Chip Shots by Chip Griffin

Coming August 1: StartRocket


I’m launching a new venture.  Let me tell you about StartRocket and why I’m doing it.

Lots of great web entrepreneurship happens in Silicon Valley.  There are tons of successful companies, aspiring startups, ambitious entrepreneurs, and savvy investors.  Most tech conferences are easy to get to, just a short car or plane ride away.  High-tech journalists abound.  Bloggers?  Can you really drive down the road or walk the streets of San Francisco without running into one?

After Bubble 1.0, however, the level of attention paid to East Coast web entrepreneurship diminished.  Gone were the NYC conferences and publications.  Silicon Alley Reporter disappeared.  The Javits Center in New York was no longer the home to the massive Internet World conference.  And those of us back East find ourselves forced to trek cross-country for many interesting conferences.   We have far fewer parties and networking events to attend.

These aren’t complaints, and it’s not all bad.  Indeed, in some respects it signals what I think is a natural tendency of those of us on this side of the country.  Certainly up where I live in New England there’s a reluctance to be flashy or toot one’s own horn.  But sometimes it’s necessary.

A Thriving Web World Exists Outside of the Bay Area

Great things are happening outside of Silicon Valley.  Chicago-based FeedBurner was recently acquired by GoogleCBS picked up New York’s WallStrip.  The innovative incubator/investment fund Y Combinator has had great initial success, as well, though it straddles the coasts with operations in Cambridge, MA as well as out West. 

VC David Beisel operates a successful every-other-month-or-so event known as the Web Innovators Group that hosts huge gatherings of entrepreneurs to sample startup activity in the Boston/Cambridge area.  Frank Gruber, Eric Olson, Nick O’Neill and others introduced TechCocktail to the Washington, DC community recently and it was a great success from what I understand.  And that very event started in Chicago, not on the Left Coast.

Brad Feld seems to be at the hub of the activity in Colorado, where he is involved with TechStars (similar to Y Combinator)  and is working with Eric Norlin to start what should be a great tech conference away from the West Cost in defrag which will take place this December in Denver. Fred Wilson champions the startup community in New York City, just recently hosting a Facebook developers meetup.  Also based in New York, Greg Galant has done a nice job interviewing entrepreneurs for his Venture Voice podcast, though he does seem to do so with less frequency than he used to, and I’m sure many miss it.

Obviously there’s much more, but you get the idea.

Non-SV Entrepreneurs Aren’t Ignored, But…

Despite all of this activity — and perhaps in part because of it — there remains a void.  Mike Arrington has always seemed to make a real effort to cover non-Silicon Valley startups, and as his team has expanded, they’ve done a pretty nice job of it.  (Disclosure: TechCrunch profiled CustomScoop when the blog was still a newborn.)  Robert Scoble of PodTech interviews and videotapes demos from some companies not on the West Coast, but for the most part he covers that which is close to home, and that’s understandable.  TechCrunch and the ScobleShow (as well as others, of course) provide great opportunities for exposure for web entrepreneurs.  StartRocket is inspired by those two but will complement, not compete with, their efforts.

Here’s Where StartRocket Comes In

There’s really no substitute for “local” coverage of local talent.    This media site will focus on web entrepreneurship outside of Silicon Valley, and especially East of the Rockies.  It won’t ignore innovation in California, it will just be more of an East Coast/Midwest perspective on the industry.

It’s more than a blog.  The future of online media involves the dismantling of artificial silos that segregate text, audio, and video.  StartRocket will use the right medium for the content being delivered.  In addition, the plan calls to roll out applications related to the editorial mission (details to come in due course).

StartRocket isn’t about me or any one person.  It’s about information.  I will continue to maintain my own blog and podcast that provides a venue for me to share my opinion, discuss my vision for the future, and other topics.  Indeed, I expect that soon I will not be the only voice sharing information at StartRocket.

Some of the things you can expect to see at StartRocket in the future include:

  • entrepreneur interviews,
  • company profiles,
  • conference coverage,
  • VC and angel information,
  • product demos, and more. 

It will be a gradual evolution.  StartRocket itself is a startup activity and will follow the same evolutionary path of any startup.

Here’s Where You Come In

To make this launch successful, I need to ask you to do a few things:

  1. Sign up to be notified when the site launches,  
  2. Tell your friends about StartRocket, and
  3. Email me with ideas for companies to profile and other story tips and ideas.

Together, we can make this project a success and shine a brighter spotlight on “outside the Valley” web entrepreneurship.

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