Early Stage Investment Firm LaunchBox Digital Opens in Washington DC

Early stage investment firm LaunchBox Digital has opened it’s doors in Washington DC.   They’re looking for new entrepreneurs who’re looking for some help make their dreams a reality.  This includes investment capital, mentoring, and help with access to the right people.  It operates much like Y Combinator.

Being someone who acts from time to time as an advocate for the DC technology community, this makes me very excited.  I can’t wait to see what kind of new ideas come out of the LaunchBox Digital 2008 program.

This has definitely gone a long way towards awakening the  entrepreneurial spirit in a lot of folks, which is exciting.

Nick O’Neill Launches A New Blog – Social Times

Washington DC’s very own Nick O’Neill has launched another blog called Social Times.  He’ll cover all aspects of social media and social networking.  His blog also has an offline component where he’ll help to promote social networking related events. Nick also writes for All Facebook and his personal blog The Webpreneur.

It’s exciting to see more activity in the DC Web scene.  I look forward to tracking Nick’s success with this blog and many others.

A Presentation on Why WCAG 2.0 Will Rock

If you’re not familiar, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) is a Web standard produced by the World Wide Web Consortium(W3C) Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) to show you how you can make your Web site accessible to people with disabilities.  Well the W3C has been working on WCAG 2.0, which is a massive improvement and will make our lives even easier.

Well, the W3C WAI has just released a presentation which goes through what WCAG  2.0 is, why it rocks, and what you can do.   If you have any questions about WCAG 2.0, I’d recommend that you check it out.  If you work in Web accessibility and you were looking for great fodder for a presentation, you’ll love this.

Check it out and tell me what you think.

Find Washington DC Metro Times via SMS

Metro Times Screenshot

Washington DC programming rockstar Zvi Band has just launched a cool new Web app called Metro Times. It allows you to send a text message (SMS) with the name of a metro station to an address and it will send back to you the times of the upcoming trains. It’s awesome.

What’d make this app even better is if it were a mobile web app and not just for SMS.

This site provides essentially the same content as the iPhone Web app Meenster. Metro Times is great for those who are iPhone-less.

Solving Problems – Another Lesson from Startup Weekend DC

Another one of the lessons I learned from my day at Startup Weekend DC is that if you’re going to create an app or do a startup it should be about solving a problem or filling a need it shouldn’t be about creating something for the sake of creating something.

We make things not because it’d be cool… but for our users.  It’s our job… it’s our responsibility if we want to be successful entrepreneurs that we have to understand people.  We have to understand people’s problems.  We have to understand the technology and how it can be used, morphed, and manipulated to meet people’s needs.

I have to constantly be asking myself… why is someone going to be using this product?  Why will they care?  How does this help them?

It’s easy to answer the who, what, when, and where but what about the the so what.

It’s easy for me to get myself stuck in my alpha geek technology never leave my computer bubble.  I’m glad that I have friends who’ll slap me upside my head when that happens.  It’s crucial that I’m out there and forming relationships and listening ot people.

Having the Right Team – A Lesson From Startup Weekend DC

I have complete and utter respect for the folks that organized and sponsored Startup Weekend DC but I have to say though that it’s just not for me. I went the first night and that was enough for me.

The premise of Startup Weekend is that a bunch of smart people get together and over the course of a weekend conceptualize a Web app, create it, and then form a business around it. For this weekend that meant 50 to 70 of Washington DC’s brightest minds in the Web industry.

But… when there is no clear leader, you have to get consensus among people who haven’t worked together before, and you have to do it in a weekend, you go a little crazy or you have to be a little crazy.

I guess for me it reenforces the idea that if you’re going to do a startup, you need to have a solid team. You need a team that you trust. You need a team that you’re going to work well with. You can’t be worrying about people’s personalities or people’s motivations. You have to be able to sit down and get stuff done together.

Every team has a good leader. The leader has a clear vision. He doesn’t lead by being high and mighty. He leads by getting his hands dirty… by setting the example.

I have massive respect for all of the startups out there who are able to do the startup thing successfully. You guys rock.

Best wishes to the Startup Weekend DC crew. I’m happy to be a beta tester of Hola Neighbor and you know i’ll blog my thoughts. 😉

More thoughts on startups and Startup Weekend DC soon.

Busy Week for the DC Tech Community

This is another week where there are a lot of great events going on for the Washington DC Tech community.  These are the ones I’m going to be at.

Copynight DC – Tuesday Oct 23rd

On Tuesday, there is Copynight DC which is hosted by Joseph Price. This month, while drinking beers at Brickskellers, a cadre of folks will discuss the current issues related to the state of online music. I’m confident it’ll be a good time.

Next DC Happy Hour – Thursday Oct 25th

Next DC Founder Moses McCall is throwing another Happy Hour at the Science Club up in NW.

DC Startup Weekend – Oct 26th-28th

Startup Weekend, an idea formed in Colorado, is where you get a group of talented folks together in one place and over the course of the weekend develop a Web app from concept to production and you form a company around it.

Well this weekend, it’s in Washington DC.  It sound be nuts. :-p

Mac OS 10.5 Leopard Install Party?

While I’m not overwhelmed with excitement with the upcoming release of Mac OS 10.5 Leopard, being an Apple fanboy, I’m sure i’ll be getting it shortly after it comes out on Oct 26th. (I may not be able to go on opening night because i’ll be at Startup Weekend DC.)

Anybody wanna have a Mac OS 10.5 Leopard Install Party? Because of DC Startup Weekend, we could have on it on Monday, Oct 29th. Everyone can come over to my apt., drink beer, and hope the update doesn’t kill our laptops.

Drop me a comment if you’re interested.

Updated: It’s 10.5 not 10.4.  Thanks.

Come hear Alex Giron of nclud and CSS Beauty at RefreshDC Tomorrow!

Alex Giron sticking out his tongue

The monthly gathering of DC Web geeks and entrepreneurs at Refresh DC has easily become one of the highlights of my month. There is consistently a great speaker to gain insight from and a great community of people to meet and get to know.

This month is no different. The speaker is famed designer Alex Giron of local design firm nclud and popular Web development community site CSS Beauty. He’s going to be talking about “ways in which you can take a website idea and bring it into fruition, from concept, to design, to code and anything in between.” I’m confident it will be great.

After the talk, we all go to the pub thats inside the Hilton in Alexandria for great conversation, more food, and beer. It’s a great opportunity to meet even more really talented people and maybe get your questions answered from what was talked about that evening.

Make sure that you RSVP for this month’s Refresh DC over on Upcoming. I’d love to pack the room.

BTW – Jason Garber is a rockstar for putting all of the Refresh DC events together. Jason, you’re awesome.

(Note: The above photo is of Alex Giron and was taken by Jeff Kubina

Facebook Developer Garage Comes to Washington, DC

I continue to be amazed by how the DC tech community is really starting to take off.  The latest twist is that there’s going to be a Facebook Developer Garage in Washington DC.  It’s on Wednesday, October 10th at 6pm at Edelman.

As you all know, I’m continually fascinated by Facebook.  I know this is going to be a great opportunity to get some of my questions answered.  It will be a great opportunity to dive deeper into the Facebook platform.

Hopefully see all of you there.