Friday, May 15, 2015

Breaking Out of The Bubble

What an amazing day I had yesterday! So full of life and learning, every day of work should be this great!
How did it get to be this way? What did I do? Who did I meet? Where was I?

My day started out like any other day, get up, wake up the kids, walk the dog, drop the kids off at school and then head East for about 15 minutes to the nearby city of Modiin. Modiin is about 10 km east of Ben Gurion Airport, 35 km southeast of Tel Aviv and about 30 km west of Jerusalem and 20km from Rehovot where I live.

In Modiin some people I know set up a shared work space called MESH, the Modiin Entrepreneurs Startup Hub. There are hubs like this across the country. If you have never been to one, they are a reasonably inexpensive way to get work done outside your house. You get the basics included like network and wifi, desks, chairs, open spaces and offices, meeting rooms, printers and a fax (don't ask, but many things here need it)and drinks. There is even an onsite chef who makes lunches for those who want to pay for it.

I headed out to MESH for 4 reasons. First, having never been to it I wanted to see what it was like as each of these work spaces are very different form each other. Second, to see and meet my friend Daniel about an idea I had for camp for the kids. Third to catch up and listen to my friend Alan Weinkrantz a fellow technology evangelist who works with RackSpace, that I met early on when we moved here. Alan was having a breakfast discussion on PR for startups, his slides are here, I love slide #6, Above The Code: 10 Principles of Startup Communications. Lastly I wanted to see, and hear, what other people, there are about 30 companies there, are doing and thinking about as ideas work better when you collaborate with others and gain insights form them.

If you read Alan's slides, (you did right?) you would see that PR is a process which can be enhanced by having content accessible for your business. The focus was on blogging which many startups do not get around to doing for many reasons (an upcoming blog post). I volunteered, to those gathered, that this blog is just about to reach 1,000 posts and discussed how it has helped me, and others, in business.Someone asked how often they should be updating their website. I pointed out that if your blog is posted to your homepage, and your website, you are updating the site automatically. SEO problem partially solved. Thanks Alan for reminding me why I blog and to get back on track.

After the discussion, Alan gave out the gapingvoid  t-Shirts which everyone wants to have, and we posed for his scrapbook. 
Keith Brooks and MESH Modiin with Rackspace
Me and some of the MESH Startups
Yes, I got the t-shirt but also had some great discussions. While comparing marketing and developers with user specs and needs I suggested CRM apps suck because who wants to fill in dozens of fields when it should be a 2 or 3 field entry and finished. That discussion led to my tweeting another friend, Jon Ferrara of GoldMine fame and now CEO of Nimble. Jon and I occasionally get into deeper CRM discussions and while I really like Nimble, I do not use/need a CRM right now. I really recommend everyone look at what he is building at Nimble. Anyway, Jon agreed that the app should scour the Internet for what you need and not make you do all the work and reminded me that Goldmine was the first to populate fields for you when you entered your zip code.

Note to startups, why could we do this 25 years ago and you can't do it now? A small thing to a user maybe a big thing to a developer but it tells me the UX may not be so great. Hey it's my M&Ms tell.

Looking around the room I could see some business opportunities with everyone that are outside their comfort zones and more in mine and so a side business may get started.

My discussion with my friend Daniel and some others at MESH about camp was interesting and while it may not be feasible for this summer, I think we will do it for next year. More on this at a later time.

MESH is a great place, happy to see it was not as claustrophobic as some of the work spaces in Tel Aviv I have visited. If I had some clients there or in the nearby area, I can see working out of their spaces more regularly. The interaction everyone has makes the 30 companies feel like one big company with many divisions. While many are developers, there are sales and marketing people too and a mix of global, local, profit and non-profit companies. This is probably the one thing I miss working remotely, the open discussions that just happen and people join in. Skype chats and Twitter threads are good, but I don't always get the same excitement feelings.

After MESH I went by to see an old friend of mine from college that I found out moved here 8 years ago and since she is not a tech person basically was out of site for a long time. It was a Facebook post that we were both "Look! It's you!". Since moving here this happens quite a bit, so many people from my ancient history are here and I will get to see you all one of these days.

Went home, picked up the kids from school, they are done at 1:45 and started to catch up on emails and messages. I saw two different emails returned with good news for me. One was to meet with a company that might need my advice and the other a conference owner which I hope to help out with as an IBM Champion effort.

While I had a bunch of work to do in the afternoon and watch over a server migration at night, we had time to get out and party with our friends over bbq and drinks, which is really how every day should end.

How was your day?