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LaunchCamp Thoughts and Thanks

LaunchCamp Boston 2010, the first in a series of events focused on connecting entrepreneurs and "intrapreneurs" with the folks who can help them launch their new brand or service, is over, and Chuck and I are exhausted but very pleased with the results.

180 entrepreneurs, marketers, speakers and volunteers convened at the Microsoft NERD Center in Cambridge -- joined by almost 100 people in the livestream room and even more on Twitter -- to share and learn together.

We kicked things off with a joint event with the Social Media Breakfast Boston group that focused on the fundamentals of social media. The goal was to get everyone on the same page for the afternoon discussions. In addition to a great kickoff presentation by John Wall (of Marketing Over Coffee fame), we saw some videos from Brett Borders, Socialnomics, David Meerman Scott and Scott Monty.

We then learned about the 3 Cs of social: Jeff Cutler shared his secrets on Content, Rachel Happe and Jim Storer gave their insights on Community from the perspective of The Community Roundtable, and Doug Haslam showed us how to engage in Conversation.

Our speakers did a bangup job, as is evidenced by the Twitterfeed. The feedback we collected from the morning event was resoundingly positive, but some folks commented that the material was a little too basic for their tastes. This is why we gave folks the option of opting out of the morning sessions, but perhaps we could have reinforced our warning that the morning goal was level setting, not breaking new ground.

I've gotten feedback from many folks about social media events in Boston saying that most of them proceeded from an assumption that everyone out there gets it, and that simply isn't true, even now. We tried to help those folks, at the risk of boring those of us in the know. It was a calculated risk, and I think it paid off. Nevertheless, it's a lesson learned: future LaunchCamps will still probably work very closely with the Social Media Breakfast folks in various cities, but we'll allow the presenters to cover more than just the fundamentals -- we weren't even taxing the brains of our great morning speakers, and we should have.

After a great lunch catered by Baker's Best, LaunchCamp proper kicked off. We heard spectacular keynotes from Mike Troiano and Dharmesh Shah, entrepreneur and PR panels led by David Beisel and Paul Gillin, and breakout sessions on topics that included exit strategies, branding, product development, search, agile methodologies and a PR improv session featuring guest journalists Wade Roush and Scott Kirsner.

Feedback from the afternoon sessions was overwhelmingly positive, especially around our two keynote speakers. In the future, we'll adjust the mix of vendors and entrepreneurs more to keep things lively. For instance, instead of an all-vendor PR panel like the engaging one we saw yesterday, we'll throw in some entrepreneurs and take a more case study-focused approach.

We were also asked to set aside more time for networking, and we'll do that as well. I'll talk a little more about the future in a second, but please feel free to share any of your thoughts and comments on Twitter using the #LaunchCamp hashtag -- we read everything, good and bad (and reply to both).

Before I talk about the future, I want to thank a few folks.

Thank Yous

First, thank you to my business partner Chuck Tanowitz, who was the glue and the steady hand throughout the planning and execution of LaunchCamp.

Next, thank you to the volunteers who offered to help out throughout the day, including Tracy Lee Carrol (who found her camera), Lisa Mokaba (who checked you in) and Stephen Sherlock (who, with his signature tricorne hat, applied his PodCamp volunteer experience to this smaller, more intimate group).

Thank you to our sponsors who made the event possible, including our own Fresh Ground Communications (how can we help your company with its launch?), Microsoft New England (thanks for sharing your space and your drinks with us), Tungle (loved the purple shirts!), Schneider Associates (the Launch PR experts), Brilliant Video (we'll share the better quality video they shot next week), and Elli St. George Godfrey (the entrepreneurial coach).

Thank you to Bob Collins and everyone else who helped us get the word out before, during and after the event. Thank you to Joselin Mane who provided the example of event management and marketing that we strove for (and -- because we followed his leadership -- whose help in promoting the event in the last few weeks we had to politely decline because of the sellout crowd). And thank you to Ja-Nae Duane, who teamed up with us and will share some of the proceeds from her book signing to offer three $100 LaunchCamp scholarships -- we'll share details on that next week.

Thank you to all our keynote speakers, session leaders, moderators and panelists: without you there would be only me up there playing videos! 🙂

There are so many other people to thank -- if I've missed you, I'm sure I'll get around to thanking you in person or on Twitter.

What's Next

As we mentioned at the event, we'll be restructuring how attendees can participate in future LaunchCamps to make sure that we get the right mix of entrepreneurs and vendors. We think this will better serve the needs of the entrepreneurs out there. We'll also be rolling out to new cities over the upcoming months -- stay tuned for more news.

But before that happens, we'll be sharing the video and slides from the event next week, as well as information on the scholarships I mentioned earlier.

One final reminder: you can automatically follow all the attendees using TweepML or the Twitter List.

See you at the next LaunchCamp!

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