Coming off successful events in Denver, The IA made its way to Boulder to tour and learn about its thriving start-up community. But, first– the unveiling of the Internet 2012 bus! The bus’s half-red/half blue-colored exterior with QR code logo accents looks spectacular and is rivaled by the interior which is decked out with couches, tables, recliners, a kitchen, and big screen televisions. This set up allows for people on the tour to continue the discussion of entrepreneurship, innovation, and the significance of the Internet as we move from stop to stop.
After settling into the bus and a short-trip to Boulder, we set off on our stops for the day.
Stop #1 – Modular Robotics (“MR”): MR is a quaint, robotics toy manufacturer that makes construction kits for children. The kits encourage children to form an interest in engineering by learning how to create, revise, and innovate. These toys also known as “Cubelets” allow for a unique user experience because users may build robots that respond to light and movement and may be remote-controlled via smartphones. The MR staff or “elves” gave us a tour of their facility. Though MR’s facility is small, its engineers’ ingenuity, intellect, and passion for their work operates on a global scale, as their toys are available worldwide. MR’s CEO [insert name] commented on Internet Freedom and even analogized MR’s operations to the Internet when he said, “We can make top down solutions … to change features of the Internet or to change the behavior of the Internet, but it’s rare that [it] works. Or, we can let the Internet be a bottom up system that is sort of self-regulated and manages itself. The same is true of robots.”
Stop #2 – The Local Motors: LM developed a streamlined process for car manufacturing in less than 18 months. LM accepts car designs via the Internet, orders car parts via the Internet, and consumers may ultimately purchase the car via the Internet. This is a prime example of how the Internet can play a significant role in the automotive industry.
Stop #3 – The Foundary Group (“FG”): From MR, we headed to meet one of the leaders at FG. This election season, investing in America is a key issue. FG, a venture capital firm focused on investing in early-stage information technology, Internet, and software startups, does just that by investing in North American companies. FG’s Managing Director, Ryan McIntyre believes that every town in America has the potential to become a successful startup community like Boulder with the help of government and community.
Stop #4 – Simple Energy (“SE”): Our last stop for the day is Simple Energy, a company that uses the Internet and social media to alter the way people and utility companies view energy conservation. SE also used the Internet as a tool to how utility companies engage with consumers. Here, we participate in the meetup.com panel called, “Politics and the Internet: why you should give a sh*t.” Panelists included Yoav Lurie (founder of Simple Energy), representatives from both Senator Udall (D-CO) and Senator Bennet’s (D-CO) offices, and Reddit’s Erik Martin and Alexis Ohanian, which made for and interesting and engaging conversation.
Despite growing cynicism about Washington, The IA reassured the audience that we working to empower users. Ohanian suggested a potential “Geek Day” to advocate for Internet Freedom. Overall, a great conversation to start bridging the gap between Washington and the startup community.
With all this talk of startup communities, have you ever thought of forming your own startup? Is the fear of failure preventing you from moving forward? Do you think you’d need governmental or community support to move forward? Let us know what you think!
Special thanks to Grubwithus for treating us to a delicious meal.
Next Stop: Lincoln, Nebraska.