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No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.

The 10 Best Startup Books Every Founder Should Read

Are you looking for guidance on getting your new startup off the ground? Maybe you and your co-founder need help to construct your business plan so you can pitch to potential investors?

Either way, you can never get enough knowledge and information on your course to see your startup succeed…what is one of the best ways of getting the education you need to build your business? Books, of course.

That’s why we here at Geekdom put together our list of the top 10 best startup books for any new founder.

Happy reading!

The 10 Best Books for Any Startup Founders or New Businesses

1. Mastering the Rockefeller Habits by Verne Harnish

The Rockefeller Habits or Scaling Up (as newer editions are called) are the set of guidelines, principles and systems that any business should implement for producing fast and effective growth.

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This book is the ultimate guide and reference book for setting up the “system” that is your business. Starting with Harnish’s “One Page Strategic Plan,” use the tools, resources and powerful case studies provided to begin structuring and setting up your business for optimal growth.

For me, as an entrepreneur, this is a book I keep on my bookshelf close by, as I’m constantly referencing back whenever I approach a new hurdle in my businesses.

Learn more about the book and start getting free resources at https://scalingup.com/.

2. The 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch

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Want to know the secrets of achieving more but by doing less? Yeah, sounds crazy right?

Well, through reading this epic book by Richard Koch and understanding what the 80/20 principle is all about, you and your team will be able to do more with less as you begin to identify which actions you are taking in your business are leading to the most positive outcomes.

Any successful startup founders need to learn how to do more with less. Learn about the imbalances and inequalities in cause and effects and start maximizing your output (and success).

 

3. The Goal by Eliyahu M. Goldratt

Perhaps one of the best books on systems management and improvement, The Goal, is an essential read for any startup founder.

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See the world in a different way after this read, as your focus will drive to what is called the “bottleneck” in your business. The Goal provides a formula for continuous improvement so the business you are running, all the way from sales to delivery of your product/service gets better and better over time.

4. Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne

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Want to know how to create a product that is not only innovative but highly valuable in the market? In this book, you’ll learn how to find what the authors refer to as the “Blue Ocean” space of any market, the areas that customers still find a tremendous amount of value but where the competition is limited.

With step by step processes and tools, Chan Kim and Mauborgne use plenty of real-life case studies of businesses that have found the “Blue Ocean” and thrived, making this a must-read for any startup founders as the battle the product development sphere.

5. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

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The Lean Startup is an important book for any startup team. Essentially a step by step guide to creating a sustainable business in the leanest way possible, Reis gives you all you need to know to launch a successful enterprise.

Learn what business model you need to employ to hit the market fast, share in epiphany from customer feedback and adapt your products to be more valuable.

6. Zero to One by Peter Thiel with Blake Masters9780804139298 p0 v4 s1200x630

A bold variant on the preachings of producing a “sustainable business” in Zero to One, Peter Thiel advises startup founders look to bring into existence what has never existed before.

Truly innovative (and ultimately profitable) companies Thiel believes, come from finding areas of the market where no solution existed…and now one does.

This book, originally a series of talks Thiel gave to Stanford students will surely inspire you and your startup team to wildly innovate on your course to creating a successful business.

7. The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz

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Ben’s book is an interesting take on the psychology of running a business. Throughout much of the book, Horowitz talks about the difficulties CEOs experience and how to overcome them.

Highly recommended for developing the mental toughness it requires to start and run a successful business. A business book for those looking to push their mental fortitudes.

8. Good to Great by Jim Collins

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Wondering what makes a small business great?  Good to Great, by Jim Collins is a classic business book that depicts greatness in not just business but as well in life and the roadmap to get there.

Take your business plan and turn it into an inspiring story of massive success as Collins will challenge you and your co-founder to ask not, “Why greatness?” but “What work makes you feel compelled to try to create greatness?”

9. The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber

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Does your business require you on a daily basis just to keep the lights on? The central concept of this classic by Michael Gerber is to focus on building a business that doesn’t need you to run on a daily basis. Otherwise, you are creating yourself a job. 🙂

Learn the difference, and learn how to ensure you are setting your business up in such a way that you aren’t needed to hold things together, but rather drive value, innovation and install the cultural values and story a new startup needs to thrive!

10. The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande 71CwWiCJhuL

Curious about what drives many of the issues, errors and failures in medicine? Wonder why airlines are so efficient, safe and an extremely secure way of travel? Checklists!

And while the title of this book may give you the complete message, the thoughtful and valuable data-driven case studies Gawande shares help give you the real-world examples of implementing process and procedure into your day to day.

As a startup founder you need stop wasting your mental energy on repeatable tasks and focus your critical cognitive capacities on the creative thinking it requires to run your startup!

Conclusion: Read & Achieve

Which book will you start with? Are there any books that have really helped you in your business pursuits that need to be added to our list??

Let us know in the comments below!

Top 24 Tools & Resources for Successful Startups in 2018

If you want to find the best startup tools and resources for you and your team, you'll LOVE this list.

These are all tools we've used ourselves, or our community members have used and implemented into their day to day operations.

These tools will cover; project management, marketing tools, productivity and much more.

Let's check them out!

#1 Your Local Co-Working Spaces! Duh 🙂

Given who we are we just had to mention this tip somewhere...so we thought why not first? 😉

You’ve run the numbers, and there just isn’t enough money in the budget for private office space somewhere that's convenient for you and your co-founder. Working from your house, however, is out of the question, who can stay focused with all that food in the fridge?!?

In all seriousness, a co-working space is much more than the desk (and coffee) you are paying for. It's about community! With weekly events, mentorship programs and the opportunity to collaborate with other startup founders all the while using the super high-speed internet, how can you pass that up?

 

Get Started: Hop onto sites like sharedesk.net and coworker.com to find instant office spaces in your city and around the world, if you are in San Antonio, book a tour to see us!

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#2 You Can Book Me for Easy “Calendar Juggling”

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Do you ever find yourself spending too much time just trying to schedule a meeting? I know we have...

Put an end to calendar juggling and streamline meeting management with You Can Book Me. This tool integrates with your team’s Google and iCloud calendars so that you can take everyone’s availability into consideration when scheduling meetings. The platform also works great for service businesses that take appointments from customers.

Get Started: Try out the tool’s features by signing up for a free account at Youcanbook.me.

#3 MailChimp for Email List Building & Email Marketing

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Use the email marketing tool MailChimp to stay in contact with your most engaged customers and clients. Use the free plan for a list up to 2,000 email subscribers. Their customer service is also excellent if you run into issues.

Get Started: Sign up for MailChimp’s free version to optimize your startup’s email marketing campaigns.

#4 Asana for Project Management

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Asana is a project management tool that offers a central location for your team’s requirements documents, budget data, and schedules. It’s perfect for both local and remote teams. It integrates with chat tools like Slack as well for some additional cool features.

Get Started: Visit Asana.com to see a demo of the product’s powerful features. I also like Trello and the capabilities of it's free version.

#5 Your Local Small Business Development Center!

Need access to capital or help understanding financial statements to grow your business? Your city’s Small Business Development Center has free tools, training, consulting, and informational resources to give your startup a boost.

Get Started:  Locate the nearest branch in your area, in San Antonio, go to https://sasbdc.org/.

#6 Canva for Quick, Easy & Professional Graphic Design

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Whether it's your first business card or a YouTube thumbnail to help increase the number of clicks to your company's latest video, Canva helps the non-designers "get by" with thousands of template design options. With Canva, you can get professional-looking graphics without using special photo editing skills.

Get Started: Explore Canva’s robust graphic design features for free by downloading the application at Canva.com

#7 Understand Your Website’s Performance Using Google Analytics

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How does your website traffic factor into your business plan? Seeing how your site is performing in search engines, or how users are engaging with your site is critical to seeing success online with your business.

Use detailed Google Analytics reports to develop advertising campaigns that improve lead generation, conversion rates, and sales.

Get Started: Sign up for a free Google Analytics account now and get it installed on your site ASAP! 

 

#8 Use Platforms Like Coursera to Learn New Skills & Train New Hires

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Coursera is an e-learning platform that delivers professional development and degree programs in a number of subjects. Courses are 100 percent online, and you can tailor them to match your team’s schedule. When it's hard to find the time to train employees, platforms like Coursera can be a huge difference maker in taking some of the training burden off of you.

Get Started: Register for classes at Coursera.org. You can audit a class for free, but you’ll need to pay for the course if you want credit.

#9 You Need A Budget for Managing Your Startup’s Finances (YouNeedaBudget.com)

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Many new businesses experience cash flow problems that impair growth. With the proper budget, your startup doesn’t have to be a statistic. Financial management startup tools such as You Need a Budget (YNAB) help you to create and execute a budget to meet your company’s financial goals. Of course,  more traditional bookkeeping software can be an option, Xero or Quickbooks however, YNAB is very simple, easy (and cheap) to get started with.

Just export your transactions at year end and send to your accountant to complete proper tax documents.

 

Get Started: Sign up for a free trial account with YNAB at YouNeedaBudget.com

#10 Read Business Books for Wisdom Beyond Your Years

What do you need to learn? Management? Strategy? Finance?

Whatever it is, you better believe there is a wealth a good resources on all those different subjects. Readers are leaders? Right?

Get Started: Check out the “Personal MBA” reading list by best-selling author Josh Kaufman.

#11 Use Clarity (Or Tap Your Network) for Mentors & Business Coaching

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Looking for advice for your startup?

If you don’t have the budget to retain a consultant on contract, you can get on-demand advice from seasoned experts in your field with Clarity. You can also find enthusiastic mentors and business coaches through trade associations.

Get Started: Find a Clarity expert in your field at https://clarity.fm, and start getting answers today.

#12 Use Meetup or Your Local Business Calendar for Networking Events!

While connecting on social media has its place, nothing beats face-to-face connection.  Meetup is a networking tool that brings like-minded people together for social and professional events all across the spectrum.

 Get Started: Visit Meetup.com to find out about upcoming events in your area, or if you are in San Antonio, checkout SAbusinesscalendar.com.

#13 Use Websites Like Upwork to Source Capable Freelancers

Don’t let a small team stop you from doing big things. Hiring freelancers is a way to quickly scale up when you need extra help and scale back when demand ebbs.

 Get Started: Find your next freelance team member at Upwork.com.

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#14 Use Boomerang for Gmail to Remember Sales Follow Up

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Get ahead of the game with email productivity tool Boomerang for Gmail. Use the tool to automatically send pre-scripted emails anytime in the future. Never forget to send a follow up email again!

Get Started: Get a free Boomerang for Gmail account at Boomeranggmail.com to try out the platform’s basic features. Upgrade to the tool’s professional version when you need it.

#15 Send Professional Invoices with PayPal

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Obviously we are all familiar with PayPal, but have we used PayPal’s business features? One of my favorites is invoicing. Easily create professional invoices using PayPal and send them off! PayPal charges a 2% payment processing fee. Similar to many others who offer this software service.

Get Started: Sign up for a free business PayPal account at PayPal.com.

#16 Find VIP’s Email Addresses with Hunter.io

Want the email address of the CEO who’s company needs to know about your innovative idea or product? Use Hunter.io to look them up and verify their email address. The free plan works great for people who don’t have to do too much email sourcing (up to 100 requests per month!).

Get Started: Try Hunter’s features for free by signing up for a basic account at Hunter.io.

#17 Edit Content & Copy Fast with Grammarly

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Don’t distract a new potential customer browsing your website with tipos (see what I did there?).  Automated grammar checker Grammarly proofreads your content for you, which saves you time and helps you figure out how to use a comma.

Get Started: Download the Grammarly application from Chrome here.

#18 Don’t Drop Your Video Call with Zoom

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Are you tired of Skype not working? Yes, I am too. And...I have been for years! Rant over...

For hassle-free collaboration, sales calls and teleconferencing with staff, you’ll want to use a video call platform you can count on. I love Zoom, and the free plan will get you pretty far.

Get Started: Go to Zoom.us to get a demo of the platform and to sign up for a free basic account.

#19 Use Sumo Tools to Collect More Email Addresses (FAST!)

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Sumo helps you build your website’s traffic into email list subscribers with their various strategic pop up forms and landing pages. Convert more of your traffic, now!

Get Started:The basic account for this tool is free. Visit Sumo.com to sign up and connect your website.

#20 Use Jing or Snagit to Send Screenshots & Videos

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Do you have a good tool to take screenshots or screencasts yet? Such an essential tool and a big part of clearing up communication with clients, vendors and team members.  Jing and Snagit are a couple of my favorites, and have great free options.

Get Started: Sign up with Jing or Snagit, here.

#21 Manage Your Social Media Effectively with Hootsuite or Buffer

Overwhelmed by all your social media platforms? Yes, I'm sure most people are too...but fear not! Tools such as Hootsuite and Buffer makes social media management amongst many platforms much easier. Schedule your posts a week or two ahead all at once. Anything from Twitter to LinkedIn!

Get Started: Sign up for a free account with Buffer or Hootsuite here.

#22 Build Awesome Forms & Onsite Surveys with Typeform

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A lack of feedback about your products or services can leave your business out of touch with your target customers. Typeform helps you to create conversational forms and surveys to improve the user experience.

Get Started: Learn about Typeform’s features at typeform.com, and sign up for a free basic account.

#23 Use a PageBuilder Like Divi to Build Engaging Pages ASAP

You don’t need to code to build engaging pages anymore. Great page building tools like Divi allow you to build highly engaging pages from scratch or by using templates. This is all done with the click and drags of your mouse!

Get Started: Download the Divi page builder plugin at Elegantthemes.com.

 

#24 Find Stock Photos That DON'T Suck with Unsplash

Can't get completely unique photos for your company's website or blog posts? Yeah, most people can't early on! But photos are a key to engaging and captivating your readers or audience as they work through your website.

Use Unsplash's awesome collection of beautiful photos, for free! Just show some respect to the community of photographers providing the photos!

 

Get Started: Sign up for a free account at unsplash.com

Final Thoughts

Be careful, in the world of startup tools and resources there can be certain overwhelm. While we hope our list is a helpful collection of tools and resources for you, it’s your job to filter through these and find the fewest possible set of tools to help you do your job and deliver for your customers in the best possible fashion.

But lastly...

Are there any new tools that you like that we didn't list here?

Let us know in the comments below!

Shifting into Drive: Geekdom Pre-Accelerator Announces the First Class

Last month, Geekdom announced the launch of its very own Pre-Accelerator program, designed to help organize, develop, and galvanize new startups into fully-developed business plans worthy of real investment.

Well, after a review of applications and idea presentations, today is a red-letter day for Geekdom as the pre-accelerator, in partnership with Alamo Angels, announce the first class of teams to enter the program!

“We had more than 20 San Antonio startups apply to the program,” said Luke Owen, Co-Director of the Pre-Accelerator program, “The quality of startups that applied demonstrate the demand for more programs like this to support our local tech ecosystem.”

If you want to know more about the program, click here to head over to the website and to find out more. Now, let’s meet the teams that the Pre-Accelerator is about to whip into shape:

Ryan Ward, Co-Founder

 

John West, Co-Founder

Partnering with retail software providers, Scraffic provides foot traffic counting solutions and valuable traffic data to retailers of all sizes. Looking to disrupt the traditional models of monitoring foot traffic patterns, Scraffic has created an affordable and easy to install solution to empower retailers with powerful new data.

 

Jonathan Perry, Founder

Using the latest video game engine technology on the market, Ractive develops interactive virtual reality experiences to accelerate test performance, reaction times, and decision making skills. Ractive is currently focused on developing training scenarios that teach skills for saving lives!

Alberto Pina, Founder

Devoted to making the process of buying a manufactured home faster, Braustin Docs allows a home buyer to navigate the home buying process from their mobile device. After the home is delivered, Docs allows a homeowner to generate a punch list with pictures needed to order parts and complete service all in a single trip.

Julia Bates, Founder

Posture has been one of the biggest burdens on the average working professional. Mello{be} is a more comfortable and versatile meditation cushion designed to improve balance, posture, leg strength, as well as encourage the mind-body connection.

Quentin Burke, Founder

Divvee is a corporate meal delivery service designed to make it easy for companies to order from top local restaurants using a new ordering platform. Crafted from a large variety of menus curated from dishes across the city, you’ll never have to settle for a sandwich-and-soup combo ever again.

Brett Davidoff, Co-Founder

 

Nicholas Ramos, Co-Founder

Clutche us a smartphone application that connects venue customers directly to the vendors. Using their application, user can order anything from food, drinks, and merchandise to be delivered directly to their seats! No line, no waiting, no problem.

 

Beginning April 19th and culminating in a demo day on May 31st, these six teams will meet and work with mentors and speakers to help guide them through the rigors of setting up a business structure while also developing their product for debut. At the end of the program, real investors will be able to select a winning team to invest $10,000 toward their product or service!

For more information and updates on the program, bookmark their website, and be sure to join us on May 31st to see their presentations and final products!

Beating the Grind: A Few Ways Entrepreneurs Destress At Geekdom

You’ve taken the tour, activated your FOB, signed in to our Slack channels–you’ve done it, you’re a Geekdom member!

The Geekdom motto “Find your dream, build your team” may be short and sweet, but actually achieving it is anything but. There’s a copious amount of coffee, long days, some longer nights, and tough meetings ahead of you, and that can be stressful just to think about. But you’re not alone!

First and foremost, Geekdom is a community. And a community can only thrive if the people look after it, and it looks after them. Over the years, hundreds of members have traded tips and tricks for staying ahead of the stress and anxiety that comes with entrepreneurs and startups. So we’ve chatted with some of our seasoned Geekdom veterans and have come up with a short list of ways you can keep your body, mind, and soul in a healthy and productive harmony. Read on to find out!

  1. Exercise/Physical Activity

There’s no debate that as a society, we are sitting down way too often, and for far too long at a time. Years of strain for hunching over a desk and laptop has shown direct correlation with a number of back problems and health issues appearing later in life.

To keep your body—and your mind—sharp throughout your day, you need to make sure you fit some physical activity in your schedule. For the gym-goers out there, Geekdom is just two blocks away from a Gold’s Gym location!

But you don’t need a membership to be active; Geekdom has a few outlets of our own to help our community stay healthy and balanced. Once every two weeks, Geekdom hosts a one-hour yoga session in the Event Center, free for the entire community!

In addition to that, longtime community member Julia Bates hosts a mindful meditation session every Friday at 2:45 PM that’s open to the community. She recently took her sessions public with the announcement of Mellobe!

“If you can spare the time to take six breaths, you can relax your nervous system at almost any point in the day. Bringing just an ounce of compassion to the table, you’ll be amazed how much stress you can dissipate even when the deadline is approaching. A practice becomes a habit, and a habit leads to a lifestyle filled with more mindfulness, and far less anxiety.”

  1. Find a Hobby

They say entrepreneurs are always on the clock, which means the repetitive grind can lead to some stressful emotions. Monotony is a common occurrence for many professionals, and one of the easiest and most effective ways to break up the cycle is by finding a hobby.

How does engineer and community member Rene Balderas keep things fresh in his routine? By perusing Ebay and Amazon for rare knick-knacks. Just recently, he bought a pocket square for the 1980-81 play schedule for the Spurs!

But with a limitless amount of activities to do out there, where should you start? According to recent studies, some of the most effective destressing hobbies are all hand-related: knitting, crocheting, solving a rubix cube—activities that allow your brain to activate a form of autopilot so it can rest while you stay active to keep your energy levels up.

  1. Turn off Technology

In our modern world of texts, bluetooth, facetiming, and smartphone interactivity, the average person is “wired in” for almost every minute they’re awake. With such easy access to business communications—namely email—it’s almost impossible for most people to truly leave work at work and “disconnect” from the job, which means the stress follows you everywhere.

Here at Geekdom, we understand the importance of providing a community space that not only promotes a productive work environment, but a supportive social environment as well.

Our weekly Fermented Friday event celebrates the end of each work week with a social hour where community members can close the laptops, gather in the kitchen, and kick back with snacks and beer. Letting yourself take a break in the company of friends is just as important for your mental health as it is for your physical health.

  1. Know When to Walk Away

Patterns can be great for business, but tricky for your state of being. While some may thrive in surrounding themselves with familiar sights, smells, and people, others believe fresh locales can help stir new ideas and innovations in your business.

That’s why Geekdom’s community space was designed to give you both! If you enjoy the energy of a bustling bullpen, the 7th floor community space is at the heart of the daily grind. If you’re more comfortable in solidarity, the library on the 7th floor, or Audrey’s corner on the 8th floor might be better options.

Doing something as simple as changing your physical location can help you out of a rut if you’ve hit a mental block in your daily work. Don’t forget to take a few breaks during the day; stretch your legs with a walk around the community space, start a chat with a fellow member in the kitchen, or even head down to the first floor and grab some coffee from Rosella’s bistro!

  1. Remember You’re Human

While it may not be a successful evolution for your business, there is no argument among entrepreneurs that one of the most important things that will happen in your career is failure. Some of the greatest evolutions of major companies and veteran CEOs were born out of failure in one form or another.

But if you need some advice or guidance through the mental and emotional dissonance coupled with failure, Geekdom is here to help with our mentor network. On the first business week of every month, you have the chance to meet with industry veterans, professional entrepreneurs, and other executives that can dispense vital experience from their own careers that can help you at times when you may need it the most.

At the end of the day, however, the number one thing to remember is to never, ever, lose hope—we are all human, and that means we’re imperfect. But that doesn’t mean we can’t achieve our goals, build our futures, and cement our legacies in the here and now.

These are just scratching the surface of the ever-growing world of Geekdom and entrepreneurship, but it’s a great start to your exciting journey here.

The time is now, and your next opportunity is here—are you ready to grab it?

A New Year, Your New Career: the San Antonio 2018 Tech Job Fair is Here!

It’s a new year, which means it’s the perfect time for another Tech Job Fair!

Hosted by CodeUp every year, the San Antonio Tech Job Fair is a public event where dozens of major tech companies meet up to find their next employee—and that could be YOU!

If you’re in the tech industry and looking to start the next chapter on your professional life, you don’t want to miss this opportunity to meet face-to-face with up to 40 different companies across all various fields of tech.

Ready to throw your techie hat into the ring? Here’s the details:

When: Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Where: Jack Guenther Pavilion, at the Briscoe Museum

Click here to RSVP for the event so you can check-in problem free when the doors open at 5 PM. Worried about parking downtown? No need—all city parking garages and street meters are FREE after 5pm! Plan to get downtown early though, as traffic tends to be heavy around then.

Don’t wait until the last minute to sign up; every previous Tech job fair has filled up every single one of 500 spots. So get those khakis cleaned and pressed, print out a few dozen copies of your resume, and get ready to launch your career!

Calling All Entrepreneurs: 3DS is Here!

Google, Facebook, Uber, Favor—Where did they all begin? Before the money, before the TED talks, and before the success, every single major company, service, and smart app were all the same thing: An idea.

Ideas are the true genesis of innovation. But how do they evolve from just an idea to a business plan? From a business plan to a company? From a company to a movement?

It all starts somewhere. And here at Geekdom, we want our community to have every opportunity to take their ideas to the next level, and that’s where 3-Day Startup comes in.

3DS is one of our major programs dedicated to bringing in leading mentors and new workshops meant to help every member earn how to make the journey of turning your new age ideas into new age businesses, all in three rapid-fire days.

And here’s the kicker—It’s all FREE. All you have to do is apply!! Here’s a quick rundown:

  1. Apply online right here (and quickly, spots are almost gone!)
  2. Come to the Geekdom Event Center on Friday, March 23rd at 5 pm for the kickoff
  3. Get hustling!

Over the next 54 hours, the program facilitator will lead everyone through dedicated brainstorming sessions, along with some pitch/feeback sessions and team selection (no great idea got its start going solo!).

Food, beverages, and a bottomless supply of coffee will be provided for the entire group throughout the weekend, so you won’t need to worry about dipping into your personal finances.

3DS isn’t meant to be a competition; its purpose is about learning, collaborating, and helping each other turn ideas into something real. If you’re still skeptical, here’s a healthy list of companies that were created as a direct result of participating in 3DS. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, so why not make that first step count? See you there!

Community Spotlight: MindLinx

There’s no question that mental health is a vital issue in today’s fast-paced America. As professionals work longer hours and take less vacations, mental stress and fatigue has led to a sharp decline in general mental health. Besides a social stigma that still exists with even confronting mental health issues, the process of finding someone to help diagnose and treat the problem is even worse, with appointments taking weeks to pencil in.

“Families experience great pain and stress when a family member or friend is in a mental crisis.  Then there is the frustration and drama with getting the professional help they need” writes John Scheel, co-founder of MindLinx, a new mobile app and website dedicated to helping people connect with mental health professionals and psychiatrists quickly and within their budget.

“MindLinx is the natural evolution at a time when Telemedicine, the broader field of medical services thru videoconferencing, is exploding throughout the world,” Scheel explained, “The many advances in technology makes it easier to use and own devices that can deliver doctor-to-patient care wherever they may be located, distance no longer matters.”

Here’s how it works: potential patients can download the app and click through several prompts, providing general information while also asking for what kind of help the patient might need. Common life stress and anxieties can be helped by counselors, while more serious matters should be looked at by psychologists and psychiatrists. Using MindLinx does require in-app purchases in order to process the request and find suitable matches for your needs.

“MindLinx assists them to overcome the barriers of delay, confusion, stigma and inconvenience with finding a local provider to access on-line providers with services through the use of secure and HIPAA compliant video conferencing.”

After you find a match that you like, an automatic request is sent and scheduling an appointment happens in just a few days! While the app and website are still in beta, Scheel anticipates the potential pool of professionals to grow as word spreads.

If you’re interested in learning more about MindLinx, or if you’re looking to start on your own journey to better mental health, check out their website here!

Community Spotlight: Stephanie Young

Do you know who’s viewing your website? Do you know their hobbies? How about what they’re clicking on? 

Want to know? Stephanie Young knows, and she wants to help you learn as well. Stephanie runs iNNOV8 Place, where websites of all kinds are offered to meet any budget, brand, or audience. They offer options that are tailored to your business needs while developing trending designs and function. Building custom websites is their forte and expertise!

For this community spotlight, Stefanie wrote up a blog post describing the basics of Google Analytics, and where you can go to set it up for your own website!

What is Google Analytics?

According to Google themselves, “Google Analytics gives you the digital analytics tools you need to analyze data from all touch points in one place, for a deeper understanding of the customer experience. You can then share the insights that matter with you whole organization”.

But what does that really mean?

The data that Google collects and shares with you will contain some pretty key factors. It can help you decide keywords, marketing decisions or campaigns, and predict behavioral outcomes from your website users (ie: clicking on one button more than another). It also helps you spend your marketing dollars smarter.

Some of the factors that you’ll see include:

Traffic

This tells you how many people are coming to the site, how long they stick around and if they are a newcomer or returning. You will also be able to correlate spikes in traffic with your latest social media activity, blog posts or events.

Engagement

This data will tell you which pages or posts resonate with your audience. You can find out which pages are most popular in search results as well. Using this information you can start to fix the content that may not work on other pages and push the content that is working.

Demographics

Demographics are AWESOME for building a target audience on other platforms. If you’re running Google ads, Facebook Ads, or trying to engage with users via your bog, you can find who you should target. Age and gender are the main metrics bit you can also find out locations and languages that access your site the most.

Interests

Knowing what your users like and their possible hobbies are a fantastic conversion tool. You can draw people in by tying your products and services to the common interests of your users. Give them more than one reason to come to your site and see what you have to say. This information is great for creating better content and better ads.

Getting Started

Head over to the Google Analytics walkthrough and get your account setup in minutes. You’ll need your website URL on hand and a Gmail account.

Installation Complete, Now What?

Now… you wait. Collecting data that is useful will take a few months. You want to wait until you start to see real trends and real engagement. Running content changes based on a month of data isn’t the best idea. Give your site time to be used by a large number of people over a good amount of time.  Typically, 4 to 6 months is a good span of time for collection and to start analyzing.

Community Spotlight: Samar Shah

Here at Geekdom, our community is a bustling group of entrepreneurs, start ups, and professionals from just about every industry out there. Every so often, we like to have one of our own come forward and give us some insight into their corner of business to help us better understand what they do. On this occasion, we asked Samar Shah, Managing Partner of Shah IP Law, a patent strategy firm here in San Antonio. 

For his post, Samar walks us through the subject of patenting software and describes some of the intricacies when coding meets law. 

Here is some trivia to test your knowledge about software patent eligibility: can you successfully patent a piece of software that incorporates a self-referential lookup table to improve a database system’s memory configuration?  What about a piece of software that enables a user to archive digital images over a cellular network?

The answer is (as you would expect in almost all legal contexts)–“it depends.”  Recent Supreme Court decisions and subsequent lower court opinions have introduced significant ambiguity to a traditionally straightforward analysis.  Today, we need quite a bit more information before we can make a patentability determination on the questions posed above, including more information on the underlying technology, and how the patent application is written.

If the software in question improves “computer functionality” (i.e. improves computing speeds or reduces the amount of computing resources required), or performs the computing tasks in an unconventional way, then it may be patentable.

The answer also depends on how the patent is written.  Notice how the lookup table question above describes a technical feature of software (self-referential lookup table).  Whereas, the archiving system question describes what a user is enabled to do as a result of the software (archive digital images).  The former approach is more like to be deemed patentable, while the latter approach is more likely to be deemed unpatentable.  To put it in more startup friendly terms, if your patent is focused on one way to solve a customer’s pain point, then you have a better shot at patentability.  But, if your patent attempts to claim the benefits that a customer will enjoy as a result of your software, then your invention will likely be deemed unpatentable.

Put simply, Software based inventions are still patentable in the United States.  But, in order to patent eligibly, software patent applications must meet certain technical requirements, and must be written very carefully.

Although these requirements seem straightforward, there is much confusion about how to apply these requirements to sort software inventions into various patentability buckets.  Unfortunately, the patentability question for software inventions often comes down to how the patent and the patent claims are written.

You can improve your odds of getting a patent by describing the technical (read engineering) challenges in your field of invention, and specifically describing the solutions that you have come up with to address those challenges.  Moreover, you must claim your invention very carefully.  You should not claim every method of relieving a particular pain point.  Instead, your claims should be narrowly tailored to claim only the solutions that you have come up with.

Quick Detour:
should software be patentable in the first place?

Before we jump into a discussion of software patent eligibility, it is important to at least acknowledge a viewpoint held by many developers: software shouldn’t be patentable in the first place.  Many techies argue that software patents actually impede innovation, and that 99% of software is neither “novel” nor “non-obvious” to other developers who are equally skilled in the same technical field.  (All inventions must be “novel” and “non-obvious” in order to be patentable).  (Brad Feld outlined some of these criticisms in his blog post here).

We tend to agree, and sympathize, with the anti-software-patent community, but software patents are often an important point of emphasis for some investors and large corporate buyers.  We are not taking a position on the larger philosophical debate here; we aim to simply demystify the laws around software patent eligibility based on the rules that have been promulgated by the United States Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court.

 

One for the Books: Geekdom’s 2017 in Review

Happy New Year everyone!

2017 is already over, can you believe it?! We here at Geekdom sure can’t. Like a snap of your fingers, this year went by at breakneck speed while startups, entrepreneurs, and even Geekdom itself took risks, created new innovative projects, and continued to fulfill the Geekdom philosophy of blossoming the SA tech scene here downtown.

So, with all that, let’s take a quick look back at some of this year’s highlights and toast to an even greater 2018!

Soaring to New Heights: White Cloud Drones Takes to the Skies

There’s no argument that drones have become a major player in the technology industry. Wesley Pruitt and Adam Dusenbury saw an opportunity to combine flight and preprogrammed flight patterns with HD footage to create a media company to rule the skies. Creating aerial shots that usually require helicopters to obtain, Wes and Adam quickly found business with everyone from CPS energy, to the Spurs foundation, and even the Dodge car company and their line of Vipers. Seriously, check out this video they made on Texas’ famous “Devil’s Backbone” highway!

As their business grew, so dd their need for more office space. Unfortunately, Adam and Wes had to move their operations out of Geekdom, but they continue to be active members within the Geekdom community. They recently helped Alberto Pina with a few videos and clips for his Braustin Mobile Homes business.

Head on over to their Facebook page to read more about some of the incredible things Adam and Wes have accomplished this year!

Dreaming Big: Winslow Swart Launches 1 Million Dreams

Do you have any big dreams? Travel to Europe? Start a Business? Win a marathon? Do you ever stop and think your dream might just be too big to achieve? Winslow knows that fear all too well, but he wanted to find a way to silence that doubt and create a new way to organize that dream to make it become a reality. Hence, One Million Dreams was founded.

Working with software developers both in and out of Geekdom, Winslow spent 2017 building a smartphone app that can help you set up goals, checkpoints, and milestones that help you turn your dream into a reality, step-by-step. And last month, Winslow held a launch party for the beta version of his app! Here is an article by KSAT on the Android beta version, which is currently available on the Google Play store. Go download it and start planning your next big life milestone!

Social Media Meets Local Government: Alberto Altamirano’s CityFlag 

One Million Dreams was also instrumental in helping another Geekdom member, Alberto Altamirano, with CityFlag. Coming from Austin in 2015, Alberto had the idea of creating a more intuitive, social media-friendly way of interacting with local government regarding public issues and problems. Instead of calling 311, people will post on CityFlag’s smartphone app that connects citizens to public services and local government leaders.

It was a bold enough idea that it caught Xconomy’s attention with an article here, and to make things even more incredible, Alberto was named one of the top 30 social entrepreneurs under 30 by Forbes! Congratulations Alberto!

 

These are just a few of the amazing accomplishments done this year by our Geekdom community, without which Geekdom would never exist. Every day, the 6th, 7th, and 8th floor of the Rand building bustles with our fantastic community members working toward making downtown the place to be. And Geekdom will be there to succeed along with them. As we look ahead to 2018, get ready to see Geekdom transform into an even better place to turn your startup idea into a bonafide success story. The basement of the Rand building will be totally redesigned into a new resource center for Geekdom members, while the 7th and 8t floors will also start to see aesthetic and functional improvements to better utilize the physical space to tell our story.

Lastly, we the Geekdom staff would like to thank all of you for joining us on this incredible journey. We wish all of you a fantastic New Year, and hope 2018 will be as incredible for all of you as it will be for us. Cheers!

Epic Office Hours: Investor Speed Dating with Joshua Baer

Here at Geekdom, we use every resource at our disposal to provide opportunities for members to succeed. As part of that mindset, we recognize the need for outside investment—and securing it—can be real obstacles for companies as they grow.

If you’re looking to meet serious investors, the Ask Me Anything (AMA) event with Capital Factory is the most important event of the year. Here’s what you need to know:

This coming Tuesday, December 12th, Executive Director Joshua Baer of Capital Factory from Austin, Texas, will be in the Event Center for the day hosting two events.

The first event, Epic Office Hours, kicks off at 1pm, connects you with some of the greatest influencers and investors in the state of Texas. Think of it like speed-dating for your business! Josh has been instrumental in connecting entrepreneurs with significant financial investments in Austin, and he wants to replicate that here in the Alamo City.

Later in the day, Josh will host an AMA at 4pm for the community to divulge his experience and knowledge in how to fundraise successfully and efficiently here in Texas. When it comes to scaling out your business, Josh is a crucial resource of expertise in anticipating financial challenges and knowing how to overcome them.

Click here to register for the Epic Office Hours event. It’s worth mentioning that this event is absolutely free to attend and can potentially have fantastic results for your company!

Click here to register for the AMA with Joshua Baer. Admission is $10, which includes catered food and a happy hour immediately following the presentation.

Events such as these are landmark moments for burgeoning ecosystems like ours, and it could also be a landmark moment for your company. Sign up now and let’s make this a success not only for yourself or for Geekdom, but for the future of San Antonio!

Geekdom Guest Spot: Matthew Myers

As Geekdom grows, our community’s entrepreneurial reach has expanded beyond the US borders and has gone international! We have everything from established companies to brand new start-ups from across the globe who have set up shop right here in our building.  Nevertheless, immigration can be a very complicated process. To help give us some basics, community member and immigration lawyer Matthew Myers wrote this post to help describe a basic understanding regarding the “legalese” of immigration.

When it comes to noncitizens, many people in the United States have heard generally of immigrants and undocumented aliens.  Under U.S. immigration law, there are actually immigrants and nonimmigrants and those with other legal status (i.e. DACA or asylum).

Most employment-based immigration options require employer sponsorship, and many foreign nationals actually start in nonimmigrant status as an F-1 student, H-1B specialty occupation worker, Trade NAFTA professional, etc. before obtaining an immigrant visa.

  1. Getting your Foot in the Door: Nonimmigrant Visas

Commonly referred by immigration lawyers as an “alphabet soup,” the U.S. immigration system provides for nonimmigrant visa options for almost every letter of the alphabet, with certain letters having multiple variations.  Nonimmigrant visas authorizing work may be issued for a specific duration generally between 1-5 years and at renewal require the petitioning company to prove that the foreign national still qualifies for the position in order to extend the nonimmigrant visa.

Certain nonimmigrant visas have a cap on the years that a foreign national may remain in such status, after such period the foreign national either needs to change to a different nonimmigrant visa, secure an immigrant visa, or return to their home country. For example, the cap on the number of years spent in H-1B status is seven years, and the cap on the U.S. intracompany transfer visa options of L-1A Managers and Executives and L-1B Specialized Knowledge employee is seven and five years, respectively.  Not having the same time restrictions, an alternate option available to companies may be hiring Canadian or Mexican professionals under the TN visa if the job and applicant’s credentials align with a set list of over 60 professional occupations set forth by NAFTA.

Other nonimmigrant visas, such as the H-1B Specialty Occupation visa, have a cap on the number of new visas that may be granted annually. The H-1B specialty occupation visa is the most frequently utilized by tech companies in the United States, but the annual cap on new visas is reached shortly after the beginning of the fiscal year on April 1. Companies who require specialized workers outside of the cap may choose to hire nationals of Chile, Singapore, and Australia. The U.S. signed treaties with these countries that provide for a separate visa category for U.S. companies to petition for nationals of these countries who are qualified to fill specialty occupations.

2. The Holy Grail of Immigration: the Immigrant Visa

The immigrant visa, commonly referred to as the “green card”, is the holy grail of U.S. immigration law, other than citizenship, because it allows the holder to renew permanent residency indefinitely so long as that person remains admissible and a permanent resident of the United States. The renewal process is similar to that of a passport or driver’s license and may be done routinely generally without the legal advice and substantial evidence of continued qualification necessary to extend nonimmigrant visas.

Generally speaking, there is a correspondingly higher level of scrutiny in the self-sponsored or employer-sponsored options to request an immigrant visa, relative to nonimmigrant visa options. These options include the EB-1 Aliens of Extraordinary Ability, EB-1B Outstanding Professor or Researcher, the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa who invest $500,000 or $1 million, or the National Interest Waiver for individuals whose research is in the national interest of the United States who have proven accomplishments in the field.

Community Spotlight: Folo Media

It’s no secret that the Alamo city is in the starting phases of one of the largest population and industry booms of its 299-year history. People and businesses are looking to relocate here, while major companies like Hulu are looking to grow even larger in the Bexar area.

And yet, while all signs seem to point toward a bright future for San Antonio, it might not be available to everyone.

“I’m still pretty new to San Antonio, and I don’t think I’ve ever lived in a place quite this segregated,” writes Patton Dodd, Editor-in-Chief of Folo Media, “the seams between wealthy and poor show here, if you just look out for them a little bit”.

Comprised of three veterans of the news and media industries (Patton Dodd, Alice Rhee, and Benjamin Olivo), Folo examines the growing disparity and inequality between San Antonio’s wealthiest and poorest communities. As referenced on their website, two recent studies (linked here and here) argue that San Antonio is the most unequal city in the entire nation.

“Before we started Folo, we asked a lot of locals what they thought about local inequality, and they responded one of two ways: ‘That’s not something people talk about very much’ or ‘I had no idea’” Dodd said.

It was the surprising responses that led the team to dial in to this inequality and decide to focus solely on exposing and discussing this societal elephant in the room. With the support of the Laity Renewal Foundation and the H. E. Butt Family Foundation, Dodd, Rhee, and Olivo have set out to bring much-needed attention to San Antonio’s most vulnerable and at-risk communities.

“The Foundation tasked us with developing a project that would use media as a tool to serve vulnerable families and children,” Dodd explained, “We tested some ideas that were focused on national concerns, but as we got to know and love San Antonio and understand some of the most pressing local needs locally, we felt that this topic could benefit from sustained attention.”

The downtown districts have already experienced revitalization, and when coupled with Geekdom’s budding ecosystem of professional development and supporting local businesses and start-ups, Dodd knew Folo needed to be in the center of it.

“Entrepreneurialism is absolutely part of the answer to inequality, because people need jobs, and startups tend to provide jobs that pay more and offer more opportunity than jobs from aging firms.”

Dodd continued, “We’re also keeping an eye on the flow of venture capital to see if it spreads throughout the city via things like the Investing in Opportunity Act.”

But while business growth and entrepreneurs are part of the solution, what about on an individual level? For those of us who don’t have the start-up bug, how can we help encourage this vital conversation and begin to reverse this growing inequality in our city? Dodd’s answer is simple:

“Get involved. Local nonprofits do everything from building bikes for kids to serving food and making art. If you spend part of a day volunteering, you’ll make others aware because you’ll be wanting to talk about it.”

San Antonio is currently the seventh-largest city in the country, and although growing pains are inevitable, the Alamo city has all the talent and resources it needs to reverse the trend and spread the benefit to the entire population.

“This problem–systemic inequality–was created over decades, and it will take a long span of time to make systemic progress. Folo aims to cover every aspect of it because we think local citizens and institutions are going to have to throw everything at the problem,” Dodd wrote.

For more on Folo’s philosophy, or to read some of their recent articles, check out their website here, or stop by their office on the 7th floor!

Community Update: Whitecloud Drones

Happy Tuesday everyone! This won’t be the normal community blog post as we have written about Adam and Wes at WhiteCloud Drones before, but we wanted to give everyone a quick update on their recent landmarks and show off some of their latest footage!

The San Antonio Spurs Foundation was one of the first to sign with WCD, as they were in need of footage of the Spurs Coyote at some of the Alamo city’s famous locations to use as intro footage for the Coyote during home games. It wasn’t long before they were asking the pair to film for the Silver Stars, the Rampage, and even allowing them to operate their drones inside the AT&T center during the media day to catch players in the action!

Also, check out some footage here shot with Katt Slagle about the growing importance of STEM education in our youth and adolescent educations:

Finally, Wes and Adam recently had the privilege of collaborating on a passion project with Dodge South central Texas Viper Owners Association to create a breathtaking video of some of their finest driving on Devil’s Backbone, one of the most famous roads in the entire state of Texas, and a favorite among motorcyclists!

With several other projects in the works and other contracts  about to close, Adam and Wes are acting just like the drones they operate and soaring to new heights! Congratulations guys, and keep it up!

2017 Start-Up Weekend

It’s officially the Summer season! That means it’s time to break out the BBQ, Clean out the pool, and shotgun an energy drink because it’s time for the 2017 Start-Up Weekend!!

Starting June 2 at 6:30, participants will have a total of 54 hours to take an idea for a new start-up business from conception all the way to proposal! If you’ve ever had an idea for a business that’s been nagging at you in the back of your head, this event is for you!

Beginning with 60-second pitches, a round of voting will consolidate ideas and participants into a selection of teams that go to work on their shared idea. Teams will take over the 8th floor of Geekdom and use every resource at their disposal to research, brainstorm, analyze, and formulate a business plan that is as close to launch as possible for a final presentation on Sunday.

Food and caffeine will be provided to power through the weekend to keep your mind sharp and your brain churning. Not only that, but we’ll have a team of Geekdom mentors and veterans on-hand to help each team with any questions you might have and to give advice and tips along the way.

Of course, no good idea should go unrewarded, which is why awards will be given out sponsored by companies here at Geekdom! Here’s a quick list just to get you even more excited:

  • Geekdom
  • Biltt
  • Innocenti Jones
  • Key Ideas
  • Pear Analytics
  • Ace Screen Graphics

Each of these companies will be awarding packages tailored to your start-up weekend idea to help boost your business plan even closer to a reality. So what are you waiting for? Why are you still reading this when you could be signing up!?!

Community Spotlight: BySurface (and Quadrangular)

As far as neighbors go, Mexico has no shortage of ties to Texas; whether it’s business, political, economical, or culinary (queso has become a staple of the Texan diet), you can’t argue how our cultures have drawn from one another. Here at Geekdom, those ties have begun enticing Mexican entrepreneurs across the border in hopes of expanding their base into the USA marketplace.

“In Mexico we do business as Cuadrangular, we are known as the team that handled the digital campaign of the current governor of Nuevo Leon (Monterrey),” said Ruben Morales, of BySurface. “The challenge was that we needed to use technology to do something that has never been done before, which was to help on the digital side to win an election for an independent candidate, meaning that he had no political party.”

Ruben and his team at BySurface are all about the polished, higher end web design experience. As the average Google search result rises into the quintillions, the need for delivering sharp, intuitive web products that maximize results and minimize grief.

“No matter where you go, there will always be competition. Our most important tenet is ‘We Believe in Great Software Experiences’ and that means from the moment we meet with our clients, until we deliver the final product, it is all an experience. Beautiful digital products and outstanding customer care is key to us.”

While the entire company employs nearly 30 members, only a handful made the transfer here to the Alamo city to start the expansion. It was actually the 2016 Start Up Weekend event that made Ruben and his coworkers agree that Geekdom needed to be their new home in USA.

“We spoke with some Mexican entrepreneurs that are doing business here, then we brought part of our team to last year’s start up weekend so they could hang out with locals and see how the interaction was.”

As Ruben (and others) point out, San Antonio has become a sweet-spot of sorts for Hispanic development and business. With an already established and welcoming community, coupled with much more affordability than any other major Texas city, it’s no surprise more and more Mexican companies are eyeing our city as their next major growth.

“San Antonio has the perfect conditions for Mexican tech entrepreneurs because of the culture, the growing tech ecosystem and the openness.”

For more information about Ruben and his team, check out their site BySurface, or their Mexican counterpart Quadrangular!

Company Spotlight: WhiteCloud Drones

Drones—no term is better suited for being called a “buzzword” for 2017. They soar, hover, surveil, and even deliver small packages right to your front doorstep in select cities (though it’s expected to expand here to the Alamo city very soon). But a lot of people don’t know that drones are having a much more influential use outside of their military connotations.

“Drones have been a huge part of my life,” said Wesley Pruitt, co-founder of Whitecloud Drones, “I operated UAV’s/ Drones in the Navy [from 2007 to 2013] as mobile UAV operator for the SEAL Teams. I deployed numerous times to Iraq and Afghanistan flying for them.”

Whitecloud Drones recently moved into Geekdom late in 2016, but they’ve been putting their aerial skills to good use for years. San Antonio has been a major hub for drone technology for more than a decade now, so it stands to reason that their commercial abilities are finding solid footing here first.

“Aside from the USS San Antonio having a UAV Site onboard at all times the city of San Antonio has supplied updates to drone autopilots, as well as produce some awesome autopilots for the commercial markets.”

Of course, no good area of expertise goes unpoliced. Considering the already growing amount of aerial traffic occurring above San Antonio (and the bustling expansion of our international airport scheduled to be completed by 2018), it’s no surprise there are some significant laws regarding civilian drone operation.

“The new license is the Part 107 license that requires a person to take a knowledge test and pass with a score of at least 70%. The red tape list is large, such as operations near an airfield, 400 feet above ground level, filming historic locations [such as the Alamo], flight over people, and flight at night.”

But this hasn’t stopped White Cloud from droning ahead of the game and gaining all necessary permissions to film in places no one else is allowed to.

“We are the only company in San Antonio that can legally film Historic Locations.”

From a technical standpoint, when an operator can utilize heights unachievable with a crane camera, and couple that with programmable flight paths and camera angles that can’t be done by human means, the results are truly one-of-a-kind.

“Our ability to capture some amazing angles has led us to work with a lot of media production companies. We have a platform that allows us to fly around any camera and still be able to utilize all of the camera functions.”

Although they’re keeping a tight lip on what’s in the pipeline for 2017, they can tease us with one major client the entire city knows and loves.

“The San Antonio Spurs and the AT&T Center hire us to capture stunning images and video clips that they play on ESPN/CBS and NBC.”

So if you happen to look up one day while leaving the downtown area or perusing the farmer’s market at the Pearl and see a drone buzzing it’s way slowly across the sky, you don’t need to fret over a surveillance scare; in fact, you should throw your hands up and wave, and there’s a chance you might be able to spot yourself on Whitecloud’s next big commercial. Until then, check out this highlight reel they recorded out on Medina lake!

The Contagion of the SA Tech Community

Every now and then, Geekdom likes to reach out to some of our alumni and fellow alamo city techies to hear their thoughts on our burgeoning culture in the downtown area. Jessica Hernandez from Grok Interactive wanted to share her perspective on this “epidemic” that everyone should want to catch!

 

I am not talking about an infectious disease. I am talking about the infectious entrepreneurial spirit. The “let’s lift each other up” culture that has developed as a result of Geekdom’s efforts. If you are a part of this growing tech scene, you know the energy, the spirit and have grabbed on tightly to see how you can be a part of this vibrant ecosystem. For those not aware of our growing tech community, let me guide you through the web of knowledge happening in this city.

The tech industry’s growth in our city has helped with job creation. The highly coveted software developer job is most often discussed, but there are also opportunities in other key areas to include sales, marketing, and customer support. Remember that business degree you paid for and don’t know what to do with it? Well, tech companies need business minded individuals to help with day to day operations. Those skills are needed for strategic initiatives to help small tech companies grow.

Geekdom member and WordPress expert, Stefanie Young, from Grok Interactive gave a great example of her experience downtown. “I can walk down the street and ask any developer a question on any topic. Everyone is ready to help each other and provide support when we are looking for help.” Stefanie has also given back to the community by speaking at many engagements to share her knowledge with up and coming WordPress developers. She is a graduate from Codeup and is one of many Grok developers actively mentoring students. This is one small example of the open sourcing of information that is happening right now in our city.

If you are a current or former Rackspace employee, a short stroll down Houston street during a lunch hour will most likely lead you into a conversation with someone you used to work with and is now telling their story about their transition from a big tech company to a smaller start up environment reminiscent of Rackspace’s earlier years. For those not familiar with the Rackspace family and friends culture, you will be delighted to find many former Rackers who are willing to mentor and share their knowledge with others interested in this tech community.

Did I also mention that local downtown businesses are benefiting from the tech community’s growth? We are a group of hungry folks and we like to be fed good food. Pinch Boil House is an example of one of the eateries that will be opening due to demand and growth from this ecosystem.

Our collective community challenge in the coming years will be how will we allow this fostering of knowledge and information between each other to continue without allowing agencies to monopolize the community and make money off the values that we hold in high regard. You could be a Grok Interactive developer, a support team member of WPEngine, a database engineer at JungleDisk, a Codeup student, or working with one of the many startups at Geekdom, but our goals and aspirations are the same: continue to grow this thriving ecosystem and make it home to many of the tech companies of our time.

If you are not participating in the scene, you should be. Come downtown, grab lunch at Moshe’s, and get a membership at Geekdom. Find that energetic group of techies and ask them how to solve that business problem you have. Better yet, ask how you can contribute.

-Jessica

Company Spotlight: BILTT – Brick by Brick

Chalkboards & punk rock – that’s how projects begin to take shape at BILTT.

They are a design-first shop that specialize in helping startups and SaaS companies with logo and identity systems, marketing websites, and their digital products or applications.

BILTT was founded by Chris Welch and Josh Seltzer the beginning of 2014. Neither born and raised here, they originally met during the early days of Geekdom at the Weston Centre in March of 2012.

“It was pretty interesting meeting some rando dude in this city that matched my passion for quality work. Chris, although I don’t like to tell him, is an amazing designer and after a few quiet walks on the beach, it just seemed to make sense to work together”, said Josh Seltzer.

“Busted knuckles and broken backs are how we had food on the table every night.”

BILTT was born out of hard work and passion for delivering good design to good people. Even more impressive is the work ethic. This team is relentless at delivering something people can trust in and be proud of – and that kind of effort is home-grown.

Chris Welch puts it, “We come from blue collar families and backgrounds. Our fathers were both hammer-swinging carpenter types. Busted knuckles and broken backs is how we had food on the table every night. We wanted to build something that represented that work ethic.”

 

biltt-team-band-photo

“Aesthetics is a very small part of our job… design is about solving problems and delivering a message.”

In 2015, BILTT grew to add one more person, Claire Osburn. Prior to BILTT, Claire was working with SA2020, but took the first front-end development course that Codeup provided. It just so happened that Josh Seltzer was helping teach that course and BILTT hired her immediately.

“Claire is amazing. Her eye for detail and addiction to results is what keeps us moving forward some days. I can’t imagine a day without her around”, said Josh Seltzer. “The good thing about our team is that we overlap. We can move in and out of each others space. Claire can code and do Information Architecture, while I’m coding or working on UX, and Chris is working on UX or high-fidelity designs. I think we compliment each other and its awesome we can help each other out.”

Though small in team size, BILTT’s success and influence around these halls are bigger than you think. Between Techstars Cloud, Startup Weekend, Startup Next and even Geekdom (to name a few) they have been avid supporters of the local community.

biltt-team-3

“We consider our clients and partners to be friends. Working with people that we like, believe in and trust is huge for us. We like to say that as much as a client chooses to work with us, we choose to work with them. Getting to know the people and companies at Geekdom has played a major role in making that possible.”, said Chris Welch.

Stop by their office sometime, located on the 7th floor in the Mortal Kombat office. They may say hi or give you a “why are you bothering us look”, but truly do appreciate visitors even if they tell you to leave immediately – they’re probably just kidding – I think.

Otherwise you can find them at:
http://biltt.co
http://instagram.com/bilttco
http://twitter.com/bilttco

biltt-insta_1024

 

 

Company Spotlight: Digital Creative Institute

Graduation is as much an exciting ceremony as it is terrifying; while there’s always a lot of handshaking and picture taking and the like, there’s that subtle thought underlying everything that you can’t ignore anymore—you’re a grown-up now, time to “adult” with the rest of the world. And it can be a tough place, especially for the people who are just trying to get into it for the first time.
“I observed firsthand the challenges of finding your way as a newly minted grad,” explained Brad Voeller, founder of the Digital Creative Institute, “However, I also noticed that grads who overcame these odds and found early success had two common traits: A solid team of mentors behind them and hands-on experience in their chosen field. So I began to ask the question, why can’t we design a vibrant learning community around these two core elements?”

In order to achieve this, Brad and his team are taking the concept of apprenticeship—one with centuries of history behind many trades and industries—and digitizing it for the modern-day graduate.

“The word’s latin origin, ‘pretendere’ means to ‘grasp with the hand’. We’re re-interpreting this learning methodology for the digital age. Every skill is developed by building personally meaningful projects targeting real-world digital marketing challenges” Voeller said.

While the average graduate comes out of college with a basic understanding of marketing and advertising, most students rarely have the opportunity to get real experience with specific types of popular software or digital marketing tools that today’s companies are in demand for. At DCI, candidates will have both the time and the team to actually learn these highly sought-for skills and become adept at using them before becoming a full-blown employee.

“We work with program candidates seeking to enroll in the program to help them develop a basic understanding of analytics, PPC, and Inbound Marketing strategy,” Voeller described, “Once a candidate is successfully placed with a company and begins the apprenticeship experience, they collaborate with the other members of their cohort in strengthening the skills that are useful to all digital marketers regardless of their specific role.”

In a sense, DCI combines job training and job placement into a single entity where candidates receive guidance and the proper tools to learn what their future companies actually need from their marketing department and tailor the candidates to their strategies. So far, the results have been extremely positive and both the San Antonio and Austin markets are expanding.

“At scale, we should achieve a presence in 50+ markets with an average of 300 apprentices a year going through the program in each location!” said Voeller.

When it comes to succeeding in the professional world, you need all the help you can get, and the team at DCI is helping make that journey a lot smoother for the future of the San Antonio community. For more information or to sign up as a candidate, check out their website here!



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