On Thursday night, close to a thousand LA Tech scenesters are expected to join together for the first Digital Family Reunion at the Skirball Center. It's an important event that recognizes that Los Angeles, just like Silicon Valley, is a technology and internet hub.
Veterans of the local tech scene will be happy to know that Digital Family Reunion comes in the tradition of the Venice Interactive Community aka VIC.
"VIC was THE largest interactive web technology networking outfit during the dot com boom that peaked in 2002 with about 80 events that year with over 3,000 paying members and 10,000 on their mailing list," co-producer Kurt Daradics wrote in an e-mail to LAist. "It was founded in the mid 90's by Brad Nye and included board members Tony Winders (current VP. Marketing at Value Click Media) and Mark Jeffrey (CTO at Mahalo.com). Prior to VIC there was an outfit called LawNMoweR (yes that's the spelling) that long time LA tech entrepreneur Jim Jonnason founded...so the DFR is bridging the generations of tech entrepreneurs in Southern California..."
So is that where the "family reunion" comes in?
Kurt Daradics: The 'family' relates to the back story of a very rich and vibrant history of interent entrepreneurs in LA. All the way back to LawNMoweR and VIC. Plus, Brad Nye, VIC Founder, hasn't done a tech event in LA in a long time after having moved up North to the SF Bay. He was a major catalyst during the internet 1.0 in socal.
What motivated you to make it happen all over again?
Kurt Daradics: My motivation was simple curiosity and the desire to not reinvent the wheel. For the past year or so, I have been connecting the dots and following many strings when meeting folks that have been through business cycles and have the capital, experience, and connections. I did this for two reasons, one to build up my Rolodex and meet the right people, and secondly so that I could to help be a significant infomediary (connector) for my peers, all these smart and talented entrepreneurs who have the next new idea and energy to see it through.
What do you hope people get out of this?
Kurt Daradics: I've learned that if you help enough folks get what they want, that I get what I want. To be sure, I've thought about this a lot, and when you distiill it all down, I'm most interested in solving these sort of a questions, like "How do we find ways to collectively inspire and engage our culture to critically think, creatively and quickly, to solve todays critical problems, demonstrating benevolence towards future generations?" Perhaps that sounds utopian or unachievable, but in the contect of the DFR, we're asking the question, "IF we knew how connected we all are, how would that change everything?" I'm excited about the new administration and have faith in the American ideal, yes we can, right?What we're most looking forward to catalzying new and old relationships and helping set the stage for 2009...seems this sort of thing is very timely and needed.
He was a virtual unknown in the tech scene when I met him about a year ago, but this month, Kurt Daradics co-organized an event that brought together some of Southern Californias top dot com investors, CEOs, CTOs and influencer's.
I interviewed him about how he pulled off his event, Digital Family Reunion. Here are some of the steps he took. (Download the interview for more.)
Create a board of advisors
Havent you heard this before in my interviews about getting funding? The smartest entrepreneurs tell me they did the same thing that Kurt did: they gather a board of advisers. The board of advisers isnt so much about giving you advice as it is about giving you access to their contacts and reputation.
Build a site
There seems to be something magical about a web site. You and I know that it only takes a couple of hours to put together a decent site. But once your idea has a site, it becomes real to the people you share your idea with. Kurt told me that building a site for his event helped galvanize support for it.
Unite other groups
Kurt didnt know enough people to fill the Skirball Cultural Center. So he made his event about uniting other groups. He asked each of the local tech groups to invite their members and turn his party into their party.
To help others promote his event, Kurt provided them with HTML emails, web badges and other tools. Most people copied what he gave them into their email newsletters or web sites.
Get sponsorsHe managed to put together a long list of potential event sponsors. (Listen to the interview to hear how he did it.) But few of his sponsors came from that list. Almost all of them were people who knew and trusted him or his co-organizers and advisers.
Duke Stump, Principal / Chief Architect, The Northstar Manifestowas with another company when working with Kurt at Digital Family Reunion
The emerging future will bring forth a new collective spirit. Community, relationships and bold dynamic thinking will dominate the landscape. It will be as some have suggested a period in which 'the collaboration nation' moves our culture. That said the role of the catalyst, or in this case the social catalyst will be increasingly more popular and profound. In a relatively short time Kurt and the posse @ DFR have created a new platform with a new sense of purpose that seeks to optimize the possibility for the collaboration nation. The world needs new thinking, new leaders and catalysts for moving forward. Fortunately for us, Kurt and the DFR team offer just that. Good luck with the DFR bonfire! December 8, 2008
Duke has quite a track record as former CMO at Seventh Generation, and prior to that VP of Marketing at Nike (15+ years). To learn about what Duke Stump is up to now go to www.northstarmanifesto.com
"At the center of your being you have the answer. You know who you are and you know what you want"The Northstar Manifesto~