Freshwater Live and TechCoffee

Last night I went to the invite-only Freshwater Live, a meeting for entrepreneurs of all experience levels put on by Freshwater Venture. FV is a neat blog that profiles Chicago tech companies and is run by consummate nice-guy Keith Schacht and Eric Antonow (who is probably also a nice guy but I don’t know him).

Around 150 people showed up, and I was the easily the most underdressed in jeans, a t-shirt, and a hoodie. Oops. So I wrote “obviously a developer” on my nametag and nobody cared except the photographers, who I suspect liked the visual of the scruffy hacker-type chatting with guys in business suits because I noticed them taking my picture at least four times and, Keith, if a ton of your pictures are me being scruffy I’m sorry.

It was easy to visually divide the crowd -- every under 35 was starting their first or second business and everyone over was either on their eighth or in finance. So I gave the Cambrian House elevator pitch about two dozen times and boy does a crowd full of entrepreneurs love the promise of CH. I also met 5 folks who’d already heard of us, three of whom had accounts on the site and submitted ideas.

After an hour of open mingling Keith and Eric presented the family tree of Chicago tech startups. The founders of three establishd local companies gave a little “if we were starting now” presentation with comments from a board of three random finance guys and Jason Fried. Then three young startups GrubHub, Inkling, and third startup doing training whose name I forgot and can’t find anywhere gave 62-second presentations to compete for a briefcase full of cash. GrubHub won handily to end the presentation and folks fraternized for a few hours longer (I wandered out at 10 PM).

All-in-all, a fun evening and a lot of neat startups. I especially enjoyed meeting the editor of the excellent Gapers Block and the CEO of Collectica, which seems like a clever idea.


This morning I hopped up bright-eyed at 6 AM to go to TechCoffee and hacked on a personal Rails project I hope to post about in the next week or two. This was the first time I’ve gone to one of these and it was a good time. A half-dozen folks also showed up to code, though I spent a bunch of time chatting with Jason Huggins about a neat Selenium project he absolutely needs to work on and if you’re reading this, Jason, then ha, I’m pulling ahead and I’ll launch my project first and win our bet so there.

So, yeah, I don’t often drink coffee but it seemed like a good idea at 7 AM. Very wired still.