I’m now further sub-dividing my time on this planet and I have to blame it all on being a bad board member.
I’ve been involved with the Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation in Waltham (the Birthplace of American Industry, really) for several years but when I started working for a start-up, my appearances at board meetings and my time available for volunteer work shrank. I even tried to resign but the powers-that-be refused to accept my resignation.
Now that I have a little more time on my hands, I turned my attention to reaching one of the goals I had set for the Museum several years ago — getting more people from the local high tech community aware of the museum and visiting it regularly (and OK, maybe volunteering, or donating, or whatever. Just visiting works too.)
Thus was born Mass Innovation Nights — a free monthly launch party which also happens to encompass another goal of mine, proving that social media can connect buyers and sellers and be an important part of an integrated marketing plan. I’m figuring it will make a great case study and if it helps out some of our local entrepreneurs, further raises the profile of Massachusetts innovators and maybe connects a few people with new jobs — AWESOME!
Here’s how it works: we get a bunch of cool new products together, get a bunch of social media mavens in the same room and stand back. There’s a bunch of behind the scene action but otherwise pretty simple. Things don’t have to be complex to work — in fact, simple things often work quite well.
So, I bought the domain; got the museum’s go-ahead; my friend at High Rock Media, Dan, donated his time to create the website; and I started telling people about it. Of course, my “tell people about it” is perhaps a little more sophisticated than most — I have spent the last 20+ years doing high tech PR and marketing — but primarily I am focusing on social media networking for this event. So very little in the way of traditional media — although I’ll def. do some of that too.
At first, I thought I would get mostly very small companies taking advantage of the opportunity — everything’s free as benefits a “not-profit.” That’s different from a non-profit which has to register and takes donations, etc. I coined “not-profit” but I’ll bet there are lots of other not-profits out there, just hope they want to be in the category. And so we will stay that way until someone wants to throw money at us. If you do want to throw money at us, we wouldn’t mind, of course. I’d love to get some $ in the bank, pay for hosting, the name tags, my gas money and the money I spent on the domain. I’d really like to pay Dan for his time — this is his business — and spend some money on beefing up the site. We have some great ideas on how to make it a cool destination site, focused on Massachusetts innovation, and expanding but we need to get funding before those things happen. Maybe we can get someone to sponsor the live events — and offer refreshments. Who knows? Any takers? Anyone want to donate door prizes?
So, getting back to the companies who are involved. At first I expected small companies but quickly discovered that company size is not an indicator of how innovative a company is or how open they are to trying something new. Our first event, April 8, is already completely booked and the companies introducing new products range from 1 and 2 man shops to literally one of the world’s largest IT companies. These companies will be showing new B2B and B2C innovations, green tech solutions and bio-tech, enterprise software and web-based tools. Very nifty stuff. My husband, a musician, has already been peeking at some of the products and discovered one tool that will help him with some of his projects. I personally use a tool from one of the organizations that will be involved and can’t wait to see their new product launched.
Meanwhile, people are RSVPing on the site to attend the event as guests too. It’s all free. All I ask is that people who attend committ to “telling someone” about the event and/or the products they see. See something cool? Tweet about it, blog about it, Facebook it, Digg it – whatever. Just tell your neighbor, or your friend, or your boss. Of course, Twitter is well set up for us with the hashtag system — I am hoping #MIN will be a trending topic that night, garnering more attention for the new products we’ll be showing. I am hoping there will be dozens of blog entries the next morning and that people Digg them or StumbleUpon them, or post pix on Flickr. But most of all, I hope one of our innovators can tell me “Hey, Bobbie. Guess what? Someone at MIN introduced me to a great customer for my product!” Or maybe, someone says, “Hey, Bobbie. I got a job through someone I met at MIN.” Six degrees of separation? Crowd sourcing product launches? Networking. Connections. Whatever. Let’s just make something happen.