A few personal experiments from 2020 that I plan to continue as 2021 projects

It’s that time of year. You know, the time of the year when we look back. When we assess. And where we try to use that assessment to plot our paths forward. And to plan for a new year. Obviously this last year — perhaps more than any other of my professional career which, mind you, includes both the dotcom crash and the mortgage crisis — is one where I was desperately searching for a bright spot or two amongst all of the heartache and weirdness. And I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to find at least a couple of positives. I mean like they say, after all, hindsight is…

Yeah. Whoa. Wait. On second thought, maybe let’s not use that phrase.

Ahem. But upon “deeper reflection,” let’s say, I did manage to admit that I had started a few pandemic projects — experiments really — that seemed like they might have some promise. And that I hope to carry on in 2021.

With that in mind, I thought it would be worthwhile to invite you to join along with me for the ride. Because while they’re definitely things I was doing for myself, I’d like to share them with you too.

At a high level, I think the most interesting part of assessing these projects as a group was that they were all clearly inspired by something I missed. Either due to the pandemic or otherwise. That’s the theme. Filling a void. Be it created by the immediate environment or a general longing that’s been building over the years.

I also found it interesting that — unlike when I started Silicon Florist or other efforts — the newer solutions with which I experimented, this year, all tended to have a revenue model baked into their platforms. It’s no longer an afterthought. Or a “maybe someday.” And I think that’s an incredibly important step forward for content creators. And an interesting way to ensure that what has, heretofore, largely been a volunteer effort — that you either eventually figure out to how to sustain or wind up giving up on — is now thinking about the financial sustainability of these kinds efforts from day one.

So there’s a couple of themes. And here’s a quick recap of a few things I started in 2020 that revealed those themes — and how you can participate if you like.

Sharing more than just Portland startup news.

Perhaps it was the disconnectedness. Perhaps it was more time to read. Perhaps it was doomscrolling. Whatever the case, I found myself regularly gathering a bunch of interesting, random content that had absolutely nothing to do with the Portland startup community. And no matter how much I tried to share the information on social, it didn’t quite scratch that itch. I needed somewhere to gather and distribute that stuff on a regular basis.

So I started In Case It Missed You, a weekly newsletter of random stuff that I found interesting that you might find interesting, as well. Currently, I’m 15 issues in and have no intention of stopping. So if you’d like subscribe, I’d love to have you.

The weekly newsletter is completely free. Or you can pay to subscribe and get a couple of additional perks. (It was an excuse to test drive Substack.) On the fence? Well, there’s still a 50% lifetime discount on subscriptions for a few more hours.

Getting into deeper startup conversations.

In the old world, where I used to sit amidst a whole bunch of startup founders, I had any number of opportunities to get into serendipitous conversations on startups, pitching, raising capital, marketing, mental and emotional health, and any number of other interesting topics. Sometimes those were with startup going through the program. Sometimes they were with folks who happened to pop by the space.

Obviously as we all went virtual, those opportunities fell off completely. And the Zoom calls I was managing to have were all fairly high level and similar. So, in an effort to encourage folks to grab some time to have deeper and more targeted startup conversations, I started test driving Superpeer, a service that lets you purchase some of my time, when and if that would be valuable.

Why charge? Well, I’ll still happily continue to have random high level meetings — those “Can I pick your brain?” sort of meetings — with anyone who wants to grab a virtual coffee or beer. But I’ve happily and somewhat surprisingly discovered that gating this type of meeting with a ticket price motivates me to quickly get deeper into a problem, to approach problems more creatively, and to roll up my sleeves to do some work — using the 25+ years of startup experience I’ve managed to collect.

And one of the beauties of experimenting on startup platforms is that they add new functionality all of the time. During the last few weeks, Superpeer released the ability to schedule and host livestreamed events on their platform, as well. I’ve had the opportunity to test one session — which focused on the dark art of writing startup press releases — and I really appreciate the potential here. So I want to keep mucking with it.

So if you subscribe to me on Superpeer, you’ll get invites to join any of my free livestreaming events. Or if you’ve got a startup problem with which you’re struggling, you can grab 30 minutes of my time. In fact, to encourage you to try this out, please feel free to take 15% off the cost by using the discount code “2021” at checkout until the end of January.

Goodbye, Patreon. Hello, Ko-fi.

A few years ago — as an experiment — I started mucking around with Patreon. Why? Well, under the auspices that it seemed like a decent “support me if you want to or don’t” sort of platform. But honestly, it still felt a bit cumbersome. Like the option of temporarily supporting someone with a tip was far overshadowed by the continual monthly payment. It felt like too much for the folks who were motivated to support my efforts. And it made me feel like I wasn’t doing enough.

Definitely not the vibe I was going for. On either side of the equation.

So I shut down my Patreon account. And this year, I started testing Ko-fi. Which seems to be over optimized for the tipping concept. Like one and done. And that’s much more my vibe. Like what I’m doing? Cool. Reward that. Once. Don’t feel like you’re on the hook for supporting me month after month.

And that “If you like what I do, buy me a coffee” seems to be resonating with folks. To the tune of more than 500 coffees purchase over the last few months — which you’ll see over in the sidebar. So I’m going to keep exploring the potential with it.

And like Superpeer, Ko-fi released new functionality while I was testing it. They call it — wait for it — a Ko-fi Shop. Where you can sell products. So I decided to test that, too. Even though my products are actually services. Because while I’m not the best writer, I’m a not-so-awful editor. And I really like doing that sort of work. So I thought it might be fun to get back into doing editing for others. Like I did, last century. When I was a literary agent. Among other things. And folks seem to be liking that, too.

So long story short, more to come. Interested to see what more I can do with this.

I blame all of the Zoom calls.

Admittedly, I have a face for radio and a voice for blogging. But something — I don’t know what — possessed me to start adding content to my YouTube channel again, this past year. I don’t know why. Probably too much time on Zoom.

But I feel like there are any number of conversations that I happily havetime and time again — that could be captured here. Canned, if you will. If only to make me more scalable.

And so I started uploading stuff to my YouTube channel again. And spent some time actually thinking about content. Like more general startup information. And community management stuff. And other topics that could be helpful to folks both inside and outside of the Portland startup community. And stuff like that.

It’s still early. But if this is even remotely of interest, it would be great to have you subscribe. Or “smash that subscribe.” Or whatever it is those YouTube kids say, these days. Whatever the case. And if you have comments for content you’d like me to work on, I’d love to hear that too.

And so those are some of the 2020 experiments. That I’m continuing.

But, of course, in 2021 I’ll still be working on PIE startup accelerator programs — including the Crowdcasts, YouTube, PIEdcast, Meetups, Silicon Florist, Built Oregon — especially the new Built Marketplace — plus TechfestNW, Portland Lunch 2.0, and collecting and connecting dots here in the Portland startup community. Among other things. So please feel free to follow along on any and all of those.

Or if you want to go really old school… feel free to follow me on Twitter or Instagram. Subscribe to the Silicon Florist newsletter. Or keep it professional and connect with me LinkedIn.

Looking forward to new experiments — and continuing these projects — in 2021. And even more than that, I’m really looking forward to learning more about what you’re working on in the new year.


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