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thrice all american - software finding passion for life in tacoma tag:www.thriceallamerican.com,2005:a06200f80a3d5afe752de87383147dcf/software Textpattern 2010-12-06T00:38:21Z jamie http://www.thriceallamerican.com/ jamie 2008-10-08T20:00:26Z 2008-10-08T20:00:26Z On Tech Startups and Tacoma tag:www.thriceallamerican.com,2008-10-08:a06200f80a3d5afe752de87383147dcf/6079bd0d5d2926a02c82bdb63061dd2c Recent Seattle P-I to Puget Sound Business Journal transplants John Cook and Todd Bishop have temporarily set up home at Where Are John and Todd? while their new BizJournal site comes online. Today John writes about a recently-started Seattle angel investment group called the Founders Co-op. Their philosophy: provide limited capital (typically $50k to $200k) to seed stage tech startups, usually those still in the two- or three-employee stage, while also fostering an atmosphere of openness and support amongst their community of entrepreneurs. Similar smaller-than-VC-amounts investment groups exist in the Seattle market in the form of Curious Office and Monster Venture Partners. This all on top of a generally high level of networking and community amongst those in the Seattle startup community.

Now, what for Tacoma? We’ve got a couple of small tech companies around here, but choosing to locate in Tacoma (rather than, say, Pioneer Square AKA startup central) is the exception to the rule. There’s not a lot of networking between employees at different companies. There’s not “district” where these companies tend to locate. Programming talent is hard to find. (I’m not sure if this last thing is because programmers don’t live here, or because they’re all commuting to their jobs in Seattle/Redmond/wherever…)

But generally, the question is begged, why isn’t there an active startup community in Tacoma. We are within an hour of the Seattle market. There are all sorts of buildings with the cool loft spaces that small software firms like so much. UWT’s Tech Institute is by all indications growing, turning out both undergraduate and graduate software developers. UPS and PLU, both excellent schools, also turn out CS graduates in respectable numbers. Sure, there’s not the sexiness of being in Seattle, and I don’t have any illusions of Tacoma having as broad a tech presence as said neighbor-to-the-north, but it’s hard to see what’s standing in the way of more of a startup presence here.

I wonder if maybe the funding piece of the pie is one of the factors holding us back. Yes, there’s the Tacoma Angel Network (and non-funding-related support from the William Factory Small Business Incubator), but those are a little bit heavy on some of the details that many tech startups tend to scoff at, such as detailed business plans. In all honesty, most of these startups are coming to fruition through the efforts of programmers and designers, not MBAs and marketers, and the value is in the idea (and making it come to fruition), not long term goals and overly-thorough market analysis. Yes, there will be failures, but providing a framework for seed-funding ideas for small companies, without formal business process overhead, simply works for small tech companies. Bay Area venture firm Y Combinator has proven it with companies like Justin.tv, Loopt, and reddit. Curious Office has seen success with Imagekind (acquired by CafePress) and Shelfari (acquired by Amazon). Granted, there’s nothing precluding any of these firms from funding a Tacoma company, but to my knowledge it hasn’t happened yet.

So what if there were a Tacoma tech startup funder/incubator? It could be an extension of the Angel Network or it could be it’s own thing, but the operative thing is that it would provide relatively minimal funding (at least in the venture funding sense), and favor ideas over formal business plans. Picture a shared office of small two-to-three member teams working on a number of projects, each with just enough funding to cover equipment, salaries, and other overhead. An exciting collaborative atmosphere. Tons of new tech jobs for Tacoma residents! If it were connected or closely allied with the UWT Technology Institute (and/or UPS, and/or PLU), even better, because we can tap that talent before it takes jobs elsewhere–a great way to keep one segment of “cultural creatives” in town after they’re done with their degrees. (And the area around the UWT would be great, location-wise, for this…) Now, I don’t have the money to be a part of making this happen, but I really think it would open up some exciting potential for the future of Tacoma, downtown development, commerce, etc.

Thoughts, anyone?

Link-fest:

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jamie 2008-07-02T06:24:13Z 2008-07-02T06:24:42Z Design/UX (and Customer Service) at Shoes.com tag:www.thriceallamerican.com,2008-07-02:a06200f80a3d5afe752de87383147dcf/5310ead52feae416dc9dea0900beb453 Disclaimer: I’m not a designer or a user interface expert, by any means. Heck, I don’t even play on on the Internet. Maybe I’m just feeling extra design-observant after finishing Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind or something…

Melissa recently purchased some fine footwear from Shoes.com, and various aspects of the site left some impressions on me. Mostly positive, though I had a couple of observations of things that could be improved, too…

(more after the jump…)

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jamie 2007-06-06T19:21:08Z 2007-06-06T19:21:08Z A Day in the Sun for Skoot tag:www.thriceallamerican.com,2007-06-06:a06200f80a3d5afe752de87383147dcf/35cc964f202ffb858d9074151d8aa70f

Skoot, the large file transfer software that has essentially been the constant focus of my day job for about the past year and a half, is getting a day in the sun today with the launch of TroopSkoot, a program to allow soldiers and their families to use the service for free.

As always seems to be the case with any news coverage, I have a few quibbles with the details, but it’s nice to have it out there and see some press for something that I had a big part in creating.

Here is a bit of the coverage in the news and blogs:

I also want to plug the free trial available for anyone who wants to give Skoot a try. It is available for both Windows and Mac OS X. Just head to SkootIt.com and give it a shot.

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