April 2, 2009
Chris Hughes, Facebook co-founder and Obama insider is speaking at CED’s Venture Conference in April in Pinehurst. The recent announcement of Chris’ addition to the lineup makes this conference a whole lot more interesting. I’ve blocked off the dates on my calendar and will be attending now. His short bio is on the CED Venture website now. I also learned a lot more about him (his Obama campaign involvement, etc) through a quick Google search . There’s a good article on FastCompany about him as well.
The last time I attended the Venture conference with CED was a few years back when it was in Pinehurst as well. This was one of the best entrepreneurial networking events I’ve ever attended as the large porches outside of the Inn where the conference is held become crowds of investors and entrepreneurs milling around with drinks and cigars in hand in the late evening. A very neat opportunity to meet folks from all around the country. Drop me a note if you’ll be at Venture and we’ll catch up.
Pre-registration for Venture 2009 closes on 4/16 and you can register online.
June 13, 2008
Ryan and I were extremely humbled to be selected as Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneurs of the Year in the Emerging category in the Carolinas region as announced last night at a black tie ceremony that we attended at the Westin in Charlotte, North Carolina. A full list of winners was posted on the E&Y website today. Nearly 500 people were in attendance including a number of entrepreneurs, sponsors, and the folks from Ernst & Young. It was quite an event including two pre-dinner receptions, formal photo portraits, video interviews, a marching band, comedy segment, and a number of creative table accessories that kept everyone entertained.
We are extremely thankful for the nomination from our friend Laney Dale of Vaco and for the support of David Hood of Ernst & Young who visited us months back to compile the details of our profile and who was able to join us for the celebration. By way of our selection Ryan and I will now attend the national event competition in Palm Springs in November.
As I’ve mentioned in post-event media interviews I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished at iContact together. We have a world-class team that is delivering the future of web-based marketing solutions and truly empowering small businesses and entrepreneurs everywhere with a low-cost product that outperforms the competitive solutions. This comes from a team that outperforms as well.
The Emerging category finalists were all companies that call RTP home like us which was great to see. This region clearly has the people and resources required to grow many more companies like these. Finalists from some categories were much more experienced and well-known to say the least… including folks such as Matthew Szulik of RedHat and Thomas Millner of Remington Arms Company. It was flattering to just stand on the same stage as them. One was even kind enough to point out our juniority with an offer to “trade ages with us” as the group dissipated after the closing photographs.
Thanks to LocalTechWire for covering a question and answer session with Ryan and I immediately following the event.
June 6, 2008
Tonight I attended the Council for Entrepreneurial Development’s 2008 Entrepreneurial Excellence Awards in Bay 7 at the American Tobacco Campus in downtown Durham, NC along with 15 of our closest friends from iContact. We had two full tables and a few people even overflowed to join nearby groups for dinner. iContact was a headline sponsor of the event so we were able to bring a ton of people. It was great to have a great showing from our team at the dinner.
The event was as it always is, one of the best I find each year to network with business people, entrepreneurs, vendors, supporters, and friends from the Triangle who support iContact and Preation and Ryan and I personally. I mentioned to Ryan as we sat down for dinner that it was amazing how many more people among the total attendance I knew and had relationships with than just four years ago when we first began to get involved with CED and really with any people outside of the UNC community. We speculated that we could together name 50% of the people in attendance and probably had established relationships with at least half of those. There are few regions of the country that I feel are as full of people as passionate and motivated and willing to help than as in the Triangle area of North Carolina.
iContact was honored with the CED Growth Company of the Year distinction for 2008 which was truly an honor. CED’s website provides the following description of the award: “The Growth Company of the Year award is presented to an entrepreneur of a high growth company who has successfully navigated the early stage waters and had a large impact on maximizing long term value for the company. The nominee should have played a major role in the company’s success and have a large part in crafting the company’s strategic focus for the future.” It’s hard to believe that we’re being considered a Growth Company now. For five years straight we’ve been called and proudly called ourselves a startup. I guess we’ve recently grown enough to graduate to the next level. Very cool.
Ryan and I had the pleasure of accepting the award on behalf of the iContact team. Video of the award announcement is now on YouTube. In our audio presentation, that we recorded at CED in advance, Ryan and I spoke about our strategy for success, how the team has contributed (as if any of this could have been possible without an incredible team), and our unique culture that values fun. It was a nice opportunity to speak briefly about the company and hit some of the high points in front of a local crowd that’s followed our progress for many years now. It’s incredible to think that we’ve been running iContact solid for nearly five years now… although I guess it’s only been called iContact for 12 months .
May 20, 2008
Tonight with lightening striking all around I was watching weather on the local cable news station after just returning home from work when I saw a familiar interface I wouldn’t normally expect to see on TV, the Internet Explorer web browser. I snapped this picture with my digital camera while standing in front of the TV.
But what was most interesting was that it wasn’t being shown for the purpose of displaying a website but instead to display a photo that had just been submitted by a local weather spotter. The browser URL read http://webmail. at the front and it displayed a standard image expansion icon in the lower right corner which indicated that the image was being resized by the browser to fit within the window. This meant that the news station had received the photo via email and was viewing the message online through a webmail application and was then going directly to live TV from the computer screen.
I think I was even surprised at my level of excitement in seeing this. Here’s where my mind went as I immediately began to process what I was watching.
In the world of professional breaking TV news over cable networks the best technology they could use to bring real images from the front line to my TV was… email and email attachments? Somehow I felt shorthanded by WRAL. In reality, if I were just on an email list or RSS feed that was being fed content from the local weather spotters themselves I would have received an identical quality communication before WRAL could ever have hoped to show it to me on my TV. Thus, the difference in technological sophistication and speed-to-broadcast between my personal communication devices (mobile phone, laptop, etc) and WRAL news was now gone.
May 3, 2008
Last night Sarah and I attended the Jefferson-Jackson dinner of the Democratic party of North Carolina at Dorton Arena at the NC State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, NC. The crowd was very lively but the competition between candidates for the party nomination was still polite. Both candidates were smart to include their support for the other candidate were they to win the nomination and confirm that they were sure the other would do the same for them. That actually worked with the crowd pretty well which surprised me. I guess as a crowd member I’m a bit more competitive than the rest. Although Sarah and I were attending on tickets provided by the Obama campaign we remained unbranded and didn’t hold up a sign, for several reasons. Here are a few more photos of the Jefferson-Jackson Democratic Party Dinner.
Hillary gave a very Clinton-like speech, I immediately recognized the style. I saw Bill Clinton speak while on the campaign trail for President in 1992 in Fayetteville, Arkansas where I lived at the time. I was 11 years old and I remember the only glimpse I got of him in person which required a high in-place jump at the back row of the crowd. There must have been 15,000 people on the main lawn of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville at that time. The state was strongly behind him despite the promise not to seek the Presidency that he made while running for the Governorship just a few years before. Surprising to me Hillary seemed to talk more about empowering people and ensuring equality than Obama, specific talking points were the minority of her content. I guess we are still in the primaries.
Obama was classically charismatic and wasted no time in engaging the crowd in a series of rolling cheers in response to his hard hitting style. It’s fascinating to see someone so young on the podium talking about taking the position of President. His speech roared to start and then quieted for about 15 minutes as he went through a laundry-list of issues and the ways they affect average Americans. The closing involved a number of more specific actions and initiatives he would take as President and another direct but polite attack on Hillary’s plan to make the Oil companies pay the gas tax this summer. He made a great and comical point that temporary gas tax relief won’t sound like such a great idea when gas is ten bucks a gallon. The crowd loved it. Although, in concept this flies a bit in the face of his plan to provide a small cash rebate to all Americans when he becomes President. In my opinion politicians need to cut the crap on these temporary reliefs and cash bonuses and figure out real plans that provide relief over the long term while ensuring stability so that emergency relief isn’t needed. But I digress.
The event was well attended and expectedly ran way over schedule. I don’t think we left the arena until around 11PM. It was an exciting night and satisfied my need to see the democratic candidates speak in-person before making any decisions. If you’re interested which candidate I’m leaning toward now you’ll have to ask me in person.
The post above was made on 5/3/2008. It’s now 6/4/2008 and Obama has received enough delegates to claim the nomination for the Democratic party. The Wall Street Journal had a great article today graphing both candidates’ pledged delegates and superdelegates and their rank in national polls from October 2007 through today. It’s really interesting to see that the day I made this post was one of three times during the entire campaign in which the two candidates were tied in national polls and was also the single point at which Obama’s superdelegate count exceeded Clintons’… she never regained that lead.