Gwinn in MN

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Minnebar 2008

Posted by chrisgwinn on May 11, 2008

Saturday was 2008’s Minnebar. Minnebar’s the Minnesota version of barcamp, which has a bit of a complicated history – the short version is that it’s a free (un)conference, but on by and for geeks. In Minnesota, bar camp has a strong focus on people doing software as a product, instead of people building software for non-software companies. This year they were at the Coffman Union on the East Bank of the University of Minnesota, which is a nice venue for this sort of thing.

Most of the talks I went to were not particularly helpful or interesting. Free Geek Twin Cities looked interesting, although I’m skeptical of the surrounding Open Circuit organization. Otherwise, the length of the sessions (roughly 50 minutes) made it hard to get very deep into any topic. Unfortunately, Enleiten had their session in the final period and I didn’t get to see Doreen’s talk.

Side note – if you haven’t checked out Enleiten yet, and you’re interested in GTD or project management software, go take a look. It’s a number of friends of mine’s little software startup, and it seems pretty cool.

Back to Minnebar. The pre-lunch panel was the “State of the State”. Jamie Thinglestad (one day removed from Dow Jones, and my old boss), Dan Grigsby, Robert Stephens (found of Geek Squad), Michael Gorman (a VC from Split Rock) and Matthew Dornquast (code42) talked about the state of software development and entrepreneurship in Minnesota.

Their opinions seemed to track pretty closely to my feel for things. The development community is good, but we have a lack of good managers/execs. The risk-adverseness of minnesotans makes it hard to tear people away from corporate IT departments, etc. No new wisdom, but there was a sense of excitement about software entrepreneurship in the room that seems to be new and growing here. I’m not sure that was happening, say, ten years ago. When I went to MarketWatch, most of my friends were doing consulting or big company gigs. Now more and more of them are at software companies. So that’s nice.

Overall, I can’t say I found it particularly useful from a education standpoint, but it was a good community building/networking exercise. And I got to see people I haven’t seen in a while – Ira, Lou, Murphy, etc.

If you’re interested in the Twin Cities tech scene, I’d say it’s an event you shouldn’t miss.


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