Tech media star, cool companies at New Tech Meetup

Entrepreneur and pundit Jason Calacanis heads web-savvy lineup.

| Feb 3, 2010

Web entrepreneur and tech media luminary Jason Calacanis kicked off the Boulder New Tech Meetup at the CU Law School Feb. 2, telling the crowd he’s tired of people abusing startup entrepreneurs.

Jason Calacanis

Jason Calacanis

Calacanis, who’s founded and sold two Web startups and is now on his third, Mahalo (a “human-powered search engine”), said he’s been crusading against companies that charge startup entrepreneurs to present their business ideas to, and seek money from, well-heeled “angel” investors. Characterizing them, he said: “I can speak Boulder: they’re not groovy.” Going on the offensive, he’s started his own series of forums for startups to meet angel investors.

Calacanis advised the roomful of mostly young new-tech devotees that the best way to make contact with investors is to get an intro through someone they’ve already invested in. And then, he said, present them with finished work rather than tales of what you’re going to do. “Better to come with one client and a site that’s not perfect rather than with the most beautiful business plan ever.”

Calacanis is a regular feature on popular tech podcasts such as Leo Laporte’s This Week in Tech, which is available for on-demand listening or free podcast subscriptions.

After Jason, interesting companies

Among the other very interesting, rapid-fire presentations at the monthly meeting, held at the University of Colorado Law School, was Grogger, “a content management system that supports a crowd-sourced model.” The site was shown in action using a Grogger version of David Cohen‘s site, catering to startup entrepreneurs. Grogger is still in private beta.

Another crowd-pleaser was Kutenda, a software suite providing “all the pieces for online marketing success in one simple toolset,” presented by Mike Cooch. It seems to make it easy to produce a wide variety of marketing pieces, from web pages to information capture forms and e-mail auto-responders. The company’s supporting the product with video orientations and daily live training.

Gnip‘s founder Eric Marcoullier was back with a harrowing tale of a “reset” in which he and his startup pals stopped dead in the water, laid off seven of 12 employees, and started over, this time attempting to do it right. Gnip, viewed as “the easiest way to get social data into your business,” monitors coverage of companies on a variety of social networks. Marcoullier, rather than tout his product, launched into some advice for startup folks — things like building the product in a way that allows you to adapt flexibly, not alienating business partners, and moving quickly to remedy things when you find out they’re wrong. The crowd loved this taste of realism from the firing line of web startupland.

Meetings now webcast

A very groovy (speaking of) new feature of the Boulder New Tech Meetup is that it’s now being webcast live over Ustream, and is also available for subsequent viewing — this through the efforts of Meetup organizer Robert Reich in collaboration with videographer Brian Patrick of OnSight Media.

You can sign up to get notification of future New Tech Meetups in Boulder and Denver on their Meetup website.

And speaking of Brian Patrick’s videos, here is his video, shot the following day, of the Open Angel Forum in Boulder, which Calacanis also attended.