Author Archives: stroupaloop

TeamPassword

As the dust settled from the euphoric experience of Startup Weekend Baltimore, everyone returned to their jobs and reflected upon the future milestones for their startups. For me, I was eager and looking forward to continuing with TeamPassword. Unfortunately, over the past couple of weeks, the follow on discussions did not carry the same tone. Pending an official signed agreement to occur this week, I’ll be departing TeamPassword. Although disappointed by not being able to find a resolution on a mutual path forward on my contribution to TeamPassword, I consider this turning point an opportunity to explore new outlets and grow within the startup community. I look forward to collaborating with members of TeamPassword in the future and wish them the best of luck.

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Baltimore Innovation Week and Startup Weekend Baltimore

Over the past month or so I have started increasing my time dedicated to my project and general interest in the technology industry. A couple of months ago I met one of my neighbors on my block who is deeply entrenched in the Baltimore tech  community and recommended I check out a few events and resources. One of the events was Baltimore Innovation Week, a week filled with tech focused events and ended with Startup Weekend Baltimore, an event concurrently hosted in numerous cities around the world.

Attending my first event last Tuesday, I was quickly thrown into the world of tech startups, programming, and the people who actively participate in both. The event was a great way to learn about what’s popular and common resources, as well as helped me more better focus where I should be spending my time and effort.

As the week went on, I was able to participate in multiple events that provided varying perspectives on tech startup industry and a forum for varying levels of expertise to impart wisdom about their past experiences and recommendations. This is a good time to point out how different the tech startup world is from my current work environment, where openly sharing information is taboo and everyone must fend for themselves. It was rather refreshing to see a group of people willingly share ideas and engage one another for a focused cause.

All these events led up to the Startup Weekend Baltimore event, a three day event where the Baltimore startup community came together and collaborated around pitched ideas for 54 hours to be presented in front of a panel of judges and graded on various metrics. I was unfortunately unable to attend the first night due to a wedding dinner, but showed up early Saturday morning. The groups had already formed and I was rather at a lost about where to begin and who to engage. Fortunately, my neighbor was one of the organizers so I quickly linked up with him and after about 30 minutes of meandoring, found a team consisting of a couple of LocalUp guys.

Team TeamPassword hard at work

Over the weekend we worked on an idea one of the guys had and matured it out for Sunday’s presentation. The concept was called TeamPassword focused on developing an application that allowed small businesses to manage their company’s individual and shared account passwords through an easy and intuitive interface. One of the members was clearly suited as the “developer,” where he went off and focused on developing a Chrome extension and web application (built on Ruby on Rails), while the  rest of us (only 2) worked on the presentation, market research, pitch, business model, etc.

Right before the presentation

Sunday rolled around and we presented our idea along with 14 other teams. We believed we had a solid product and were able to demonstrate a working application along with a solid presentation and market feasibility. After all was said and done, we ended up first place receiving a set of prizes that further enabled the project to grow and materialize into a functional business. Here’s a little write up by TechnicallyBaltimore about the event.

Where TeamPassword goes and my level of participation is still yet to be determined, but the experiences I gained from this past week will be an invaluable resource as I continue to press on and become further involved in the tech community.

Vennd

So after some arduous conceptualization and discussions, I have finally gained some traction on an idea I have been working on since earlier this year. The startup project has affectionately been named Vennd (formerly coded as Project Silverthorne).

Vennd is focused on developing tailored interest maps through user trends, efficiently delivering relevant information from the internet.

I’ve currently been working with a couple of friends on this project. Each of us possess a different skill set to support this effort.

There’s a lot of moving parts and a lot of the concepts and approaches are still being refined, but that’s an inherent trade of exploring something ground breaking. I look forward to sharing more with everyone as the project matures.

Dan Deacon / 5k Tunnel Run Weekend

Weekend’s are for spontaneity.

Having the weekend all to myself, I was left with an open book of endless possibilities. I first addressed the pressing; hopping on my bike and heading up to JHU for a solid weekend ride. I hadn’t been on the bike for a week and a half; squeezing in a couple of runs throughout the week and a couple gym sessions. The group was small and broke up after about an hour in, leaving me and the team’s president for a nice 55mi tempo ride.

After the ride, it was time to “do work;” heading off to Patterson Perk / Starbucks to get a good 6 hours in on Vennd, a startup project I’m currently working on. Towards the end of the work session, as my mind began to wonder, I started thinking about my evening plans. I ended up hooking up with a bike buddy who was going to a sold out Dan Deacon show @ The Ottobar in Hampden. With no other plans, I decided to take my chances and headed out of bro-village Canton to hipster-town Hampden to get my PBR drink on.

Arriving to The Ottobar, the scene looked bleak, with many in line at the door and no tickets for sale. After talking to the door guy, I was able to squeeze in due to a plus one no show. Being the first time at the venue, the setup was small, but allowed the crowd to be very engaged with the stage.

September 15, 2012

Dan Deacon, what else to say. I had no idea who he was coming to the show, but after meeting up with some cycling dudes (6 pack, not racers), they informed me he was the quintessential music experience for the Baltimore scene, noted more of a performer than a musician. Once the show started, I was not disappointed. The crowd eagerly awaited his commands as he guided us through his set with careful instructions.

Keep in mind the venue was over capacity, but yet we still found ways to meet his demands. As he came onto the stage, we conducted a praise, with one finger pointing upwards and a knee to the ground, to a sacred Netflix queue (Seinfield to be specific); a clear sign this was going to be good. The music started, the crowd went crazy with non stop jumping, extreme swaying, and general insanity.

There were three unique moments during the show, where Deacon directed the crowd with explicit instructions:

  1. A giant circle in the middle of the audience w/ two people dancing their fucking pants off, and then selecting the next to do the same
  2. A divide through the middle of the audience w/ two people dancing and each side matching their moves, and then selecting the next to do the same
  3. Incorporation of a smart phone app that changed colors and used the camera flash, controlled by and matching the music

Overall, the Dan Deacon show was an impressive showing and one I’m very happy to of experienced. You know it’s a good show when you walk away drenched in sweat, some yours and likely a lot from others.

After the show, more time was spent in Hampden, hanging out with the bike kids. The fun didn’t end until 4AM. NOTE: I had apparently signed up for the 5k Tunnel Run through Bore 4 of the Fort McHenry tunnel @ 9AM on Sunday. Something agreed upon friends a couple weeks back, enticed more by the experience vice actually running.

With only a couple of hours of sleep and smelling like skunked beer and sweat. I threw on some clothes and jumped into the friend’s car at 8AM. Being my first race since high school (also 5ks), I didn’t have a reference point for expectations. After registering, taking a pre-run dump, and warming up with my friend, we made our way towards the front as people lined up for the start.

There were about a hundred (out of 900) in front of us as we entered the tunnel. We quickly maneuvered our way around runners who shouldn’t have been at the front and eventually the packs of people thinned out. My friend went off the front while I settled into my pace.

The course was an out and back, which included a decline followed by an incline rinsed and repeated via a turn around at the other side of the tunnel, making the race an uphill finish. Overall, I was satisfied with my performance, posting a 5k PR of 25:37 (~8:15min/mi). Nothing impressive, but not bad for only my 6th run over the past month, which is also when I started running again after an 11 year hiatus. I was able to put in a decent kick at the end (more than I expected), which probably means I could have ran harder.

September 16, 2012

This was all followed by a good Sunday brunch with friends at Saute, consisting of a large breakfast pizza and bottomless drinks. The weekend was productive and fun, no other way to spend it.