Straight off the boat

An introduction ..
I’m from Indiana.  I have lived the vast majority of my adult life in Lafayette.  I did the whole drop out high school to go to college and then drop out of college to start a tech business thing.  That was back in 1999 .. In 2003, I exited the company and the past five years I have been screwing off, traveling, trying to find the next venture .. alone.  I have bi-located in Chicago, Toronto, Phoenix, and Bloomington, IN.  I was only successful in screwing off.  I was unable to connect.

I came to LA for 4 days .. I stayed for a month
Thanks to my buddy @brooksbayne, I was invited to a week of tech events.  Lux hotel, Twiistup, Mashable, etc. What a eye opener.  “I started a company 8 years ago and I just sold it,” this communicates out here.  No resumes, no flashy watches, no entourage, I used to think I needed to acclimate to this definition of “successful.”  Well maybe it is success, but its never been in my book.

I find the LA tech community is about embracing, sharing, encouragement, openness, motivation, and creativity.  Find like minded people and share old and new interests?  This is what I have been looking for.  I’m not talking about academia either.  People here are not thinking, they are *acting*.  LA is growing its community.  A community of action and doing new and exciting things.

Lafayette lacks a community for innovation.  I don’t know the community in New York, I lived in Chicago and couldn’t find it there, and Toronto’s was pretentious and elitist.  Motivation for creativity, that is what the community of LA has given me.  Embracing differences and thriving in similarity.  This is the fabric of the social web.  Provide community and people network, create, motivate, build, and thrive.

I asked a guy recently at an event in LA, “hey, so what do you do?”

His reply, “I start companies.”

Oh, I get that.  I was like cool.  I love this place!  The community rocks.

Then I said,  “oh cool, what’s that mean though?”

He said, “i can’t tell you”

Huh?  Well it turns out he’s from the east coast .. No way?!

Digg on Academia
Lafayette has one of the best universities in the world, it’s not about lack of intelligence.  People come from all over the world to come study there.  It’s academia: The opposite of learning, sharing and community.  I’m not special, I’m just not a circus act.  You must create a community tolerant of n00bs. In my opinion, education should first be about encouragement, the rest will follow.  If you filter .. You lose .. Simply, Stop Filtering (thx @gregarious).  Sorry academia, but you’re broken and you’re not furthering humanity anymore.

I am putting my house on the market and moving here.  I love you LA and all the people that have embraced this n00b.

Avoid the people that “start companies and can’t talk about any of them.”  If they smell like fools .. Ask them to buy you a drink and walk away.


  • Really feeling the 'off the boat' article. I'm so tired of Indiana and I crave that 'community' of like minded individuals. Your article is inspiration that one can make it out of Indiana!! Perhaps one day we'll be able to cross paths and work together.

  • joesaid

    Small World! I know Brandon and Pamela well.

    I tried the Startupweekend in Lafayette. I unfortunately don't think ours went very well. There was little to no emphasis on business.

    I tried to help grow the community in Lafayette. Purdue being very involved is a plus, but the executive egos are a huge minus. I advised many of the startups there but again many ran into problems due to Purdue's lack of ability to execute. Oh well .. they are trying at least. Its really hard working in a vacuum.

    Keep in touch!

  • First of all Joe, thanks for the follow on Twitter. I took the link and found your blog. I too have a connection in Lafayette. My Aunt, Uncle and Cousin (Butrams) live there. I visit about once a year. My nephew is graduating from Purdue this Winter. When I visit I obviously don't get the chance to engage the tech or startup community, but I understand your perspective. i live in Central Ohio and I am involved in as many things as I can be while raising a family and working full time. In Columbus, there is a grassroots movement to draw attention to our technology community. We have a huge Twitter population, held one of the most successful startup weekend events in history. I enjoyed your post and If I could do it all over again, I would have liked to move around and find the community that had like-minded people and a community of entrepreneurship. For me, I just have to work to create that in the community I live in. It seems to be working. There is growing interest in Central Ohio, and we also have the low cost of living that helps sustain a business in tough economies.

  • welcome to lala land, meine freund.

    lol at the "i start companies" guy. he was soooo fun. negative. i wonder if he's sold any companies or generated any revenue with any companies...hmm... /plonkage


  • gammill

    welcome to the fun. glad to have you here man! lets go make some things happen.

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