A Great Place to Learn (and Maybe Find a Co-founder) for your startup
by Linz Craig
I made a widget and it’s pretty awesome. Next I have to make 100 more widgets and tell everyone how awesome they are.
I look back at that sentence and it almost sounds like I’m going around telling people that they themselves are awesome. In a way I am. At my startup, QuestBotics we believe that the more people who understand the technology in their life the better off the world will be decades and centuries from now. So we believe in people and the good of people. Who knows what that three year old will grow up to be? But with a little help we do know that she can take her first steps towards understanding programming and advanced mathematics today. We think it’s important that everyone tells her how awesome she is on that day.
On some days at QuestBotics we are buried up to our armpits in PCBs and electronics. On other days we get to tell that kid and the rest of the boys and girls at the workshop or event that they are officially robot programmers after using our bots. Kids don’t control a lot, but giving them the knowledge that they can control a robot opens up a door to a whole new reality and lifelong perspective. It’s pretty empowering. Their little eyeballs tend to pop out of their heads a little bit, in a good way.
I wrote that first sentence about our widget in the comment section when I signed up for twenty minutes with an industry mentor at Longmont Startup Week just now. I’m at that weird point where our QuestBots are 99.99% done and now we’re wondering how many late nights we have to spend hunched over a soldering iron. I’m talking to people about proving traction and using fancy terms that I hope make me sound like I know what I’m doing, all while well aware of just how much work it will take to put together those first one hundred units.
The only thing that breaks with the stereotypical image I’m conjuring is that neither of us drink coffee. For the last year and a half I’ve work out of my house writing firmware while giving the occasional workshop to make ends meet and working a part time job keeping a testing and prototyping lab tidy. Sometimes they let me break stuff in a scientific manner and wave a soldering iron around like I know what I’m doing. They’re great people and they’ve been giving me advice about QuestBotics which has proved to be really useful. I started my part time job about six months after starting QuestBotics. And nine months previously I attended the first Longmont Startup Week, which was also my first big networking event as a solo entrepreneur. If you poke around there’s bound to be some sort of entrepreneurial near you as well. They are a wealth of information for people who want to start their own businesses.
Wide eyed and hopeful (but definitely not having a clue in the world what I was going to do) I tried to soak up as much information as I could. After returning from teaching in Africa for four months I had returned to Longmont and built three different prototypes, one of which I hoped to take to market. The people at the Startup Week were incredibly helpful. I signed up for mentor sessions then just as I do now. I explained to everyone where I was trying to go, listened to others explain their own visions and tried to remember as much of the advice as I could.
I met a multitude of people and thankfully continue to stay in touch with many of them. I distinctly remember an older gentleman ask me what in the world had happened to my cell phone on the roof of a Longmont brewhouse. (I had broken it in Uganda.) I still run into him occasionally at things like the local Smart City Initiative meetup. Some of the people I met at the first Longmont Startup Week have done more than stay in touch. There was one Peruvian gentleman I met that week who became my partner at QuestBotics. The other guy who doesn’t drink coffee on these late nights and early mornings.
The QuestBots aren’t one of the three products that I talked about at that first Longmont Startup Week, but the point is that I learned a lot during that week. I’ve tried my hardest to put it all to use but I am well aware that I need a lot more guidance as I charge headlong into marketing and sales for my widget. I hope to see you at some of this year’s entrepreneurial education offerings if you live in Colorado. (If you live some where else here are some events for you to check out.) I’m looking forward to asking different questions, meeting new people, catching up with those I know and telling everyone how awesome they are.
Longmont Startup week is happening July 24-28 2017 in Longmont CO. Check out the schedule here.