Fun on the TechRanch let’s send Jen to BlogHer; BillingsBloggerBreakfast

Montana has everything to build a great tech economy.

There's plenty of capital. Why? Because rich people love coming to the state and settling down (Bill Gates owns a home not far from Bozeman, I learned today, among other famous technologists).

I just opened a safety deposit box here in Emigrant, MT, and learned that it is a profitable bank and quickly growing because of all the big money that's moving into Montana. Lots of Hollywood types buy homes here and need some place to bank.

Then there's land. Unlike Silicon Valley, which can't build out anymore, there's plenty of open space here that can be built on.

Oh, and Montana is only a 1.5 hour flight from either Silicon Valley or Seattle.

But, what is needed? John O'Donnell, executive director of the TechRanch says entrepreneurs.

Today I met several of the companies that are working with the TechRanch to establish a foothold in Montana. I'll definitely be meeting up again and writing about them when we have some more time to spend together.

But today wasn't about them, it was about getting me among the geeks of Montana and having some pizza and have a fun discussion.

Thanks to everyone who showed up today, I definitely needed that! It's always fun to be around problem solvers (which, really, is what geeks and entrepreneurs are).

One fun entrepreneur that I met was Jen Boulden, co-founder of Ideal Bite. She wants to make the world more green, but like Treehugger blogger Graham Hill, she isn't willing to do it the hippie way. I love her tag line "a sassier shade of green."

I told her "you should go to BlogHer." Her answer disturbed me. She said she couldn't afford to go.

Hey, I have an extra $100. Can anyone else kick in some money? It costs about $700 to go Silicon Valley and stay for a couple of days.

By the way, if you wanna see who Jen is, just pick up this month's Vanity Fair magazine — she is featured there along with Graham and a few other environmentalists.

Anyway, I'm going to come back to the TechRanch. It's an interesting place with its own .NET user group, a small set of companies that are being funded and helped along (interesting discussion too that we had about getting non-tech-friendly customers to try out new Web sites and services aimed at them).

If you're considering a college to attend, by the way, you should consider Montana State University. It's in a stunningly beautiful part of the world with skiing, hiking, and lots of other activities nearby and seeing the kind of support that they are getting from the community (the governor of Montana dropped in on the .NET user group a while back) I'd say that entrepreneurs here have a high chance of success. Ted Turner (the guy who started CNN) has two sizeable buildings within sight of the TechRanch and John tells me that the TechRanch is going to be expanding soon. He says that he's well into getting funding for new buildings that they are planning.

Some other anecdotes. The other night in Livingston I talked with a city planner. He said that he's planning for really rapid growth (housing prices are going nuts in Montana, he says to expect them to triple over the next five years). Livingston was rated one of the top five places in the United States to retire. If you have an average house in California that costs $1 million, up here that'll buy you an entire ranch. Or, you could buy a very nice home like my mom has for $300k and live off of the interest from the rest.

Tonight we're driving to Billings, but my cell phone isn't working. My brother isn't feeling well, so looks like dinner tonight won't work, but I'm game for breakfast in Billings. How about at 8:30 a.m. — meet in the Sheraton lobby and we'll go head out from there?

34 thoughts on “Fun on the TechRanch let’s send Jen to BlogHer; BillingsBloggerBreakfast

  1. Hello all! First off, thanks for all your insight and generous thoughts on getting Jen (and me) to BlogHER.

    Unfortunately, we didn’t get the free Minti tix to BlogHER (most probably because, well, um, I missed the submission deadline). Shamed, I decided to suck it up just pay for a conference pass, and then saw that they are sold out (even my PAYING efforts thwarted).

    So my question for the gang is this: I can get a Tuesday-only pass that gets me into Tuesday and Tuesday’s cocktail party and another pass just to Monday’s cocktail party. Now, I do like my cocktails, as anyone who reads our blog knows, but I am wondering if you guys think I should go for it, given that I will miss the day’s events on Monday (all of which seem very hands-on and worthwhile)…

    Should I do it?

    Again – thanks for all the great thoughts and for supporting us at the Bite.

    Cheers,

  2. Hello all! First off, thanks for all your insight and generous thoughts on getting Jen (and me) to BlogHER.

    Unfortunately, we didn’t get the free Minti tix to BlogHER (most probably because, well, um, I missed the submission deadline). Shamed, I decided to suck it up just pay for a conference pass, and then saw that they are sold out (even my PAYING efforts thwarted).

    So my question for the gang is this: I can get a Tuesday-only pass that gets me into Tuesday and Tuesday’s cocktail party and another pass just to Monday’s cocktail party. Now, I do like my cocktails, as anyone who reads our blog knows, but I am wondering if you guys think I should go for it, given that I will miss the day’s events on Monday (all of which seem very hands-on and worthwhile)…

    Should I do it?

    Again – thanks for all the great thoughts and for supporting us at the Bite.

    Cheers,

  3. Rob, You’d be amazed at the talent tumbling around Bozeman. I own a marketing firm, and our senior team members have had positions with Expedia, Euro Disney, Nike, IDT Semiconductor, Ogilvy (that’s me), Fidelity Investmnts and Foote Cone Belding. Bozeman’s a tightly networked town. They say the entire state of Montana is itself a small town. You’re 2 degrees of seperation from anyone — that includes the governor, Gary Reishel, Tom Seibel, Craig Barrett to name a few. There are very influential VCs, corporate executives, film industry types who own second homes here and like staying connected during their fly-throughs. Recruiting is getting easier every day with publically-traded tech companies like Right Now Technologies, creating a larger talent pool. You’d be surprised. Get in touch with John O’Donnell at TechRanch if you’re even thinking about starting you’re tech company here. And if you know any great graphic designers who want to fly fish and ski on their off days, have them contact me.

  4. Rob, You’d be amazed at the talent tumbling around Bozeman. I own a marketing firm, and our senior team members have had positions with Expedia, Euro Disney, Nike, IDT Semiconductor, Ogilvy (that’s me), Fidelity Investmnts and Foote Cone Belding. Bozeman’s a tightly networked town. They say the entire state of Montana is itself a small town. You’re 2 degrees of seperation from anyone — that includes the governor, Gary Reishel, Tom Seibel, Craig Barrett to name a few. There are very influential VCs, corporate executives, film industry types who own second homes here and like staying connected during their fly-throughs. Recruiting is getting easier every day with publically-traded tech companies like Right Now Technologies, creating a larger talent pool. You’d be surprised. Get in touch with John O’Donnell at TechRanch if you’re even thinking about starting you’re tech company here. And if you know any great graphic designers who want to fly fish and ski on their off days, have them contact me.

  5. Rob,Thanks for visiting TechRanch. It is amazing how many great people find us and pop in to visit while checking out Montana. I forgot to give you a TechRanch hat…..We hope to see you back soon.

    John

  6. Rob,Thanks for visiting TechRanch. It is amazing how many great people find us and pop in to visit while checking out Montana. I forgot to give you a TechRanch hat…..We hope to see you back soon.

    John

  7. Robert,

    I wasn’t aware until just now that you were visiting your mother in hospice. My thoughts are with you. My mother died about three years ago. Her love stays.

    Thanks for stopping by for lunch. I learned a lot. You mentioned some meta blogosphere analysis tools, but I can’t remember their names. I’ve done some seaching and haven’t found anything. Could you help me out on this? Thanks.

    Mike

  8. Robert,

    I wasn’t aware until just now that you were visiting your mother in hospice. My thoughts are with you. My mother died about three years ago. Her love stays.

    Thanks for stopping by for lunch. I learned a lot. You mentioned some meta blogosphere analysis tools, but I can’t remember their names. I’ve done some seaching and haven’t found anything. Could you help me out on this? Thanks.

    Mike

  9. But what about local skills? Would such a tech economy be based entirely on imported people? Would enough people want to move there?

  10. But what about local skills? Would such a tech economy be based entirely on imported people? Would enough people want to move there?

  11. Robert & Elisa, thanks so much for the help in getting to BlogHer. We are all over it… Heather (biz partner) will actually be in SF during that time looking for a co-officing partner (Ideal Bite will officially be co-located in Bozeman and SF by this fall), and so I am sure Heather will attend, and we will definitely do our best to get me out there too. You all rock.. muchisimas gracias for the support… jb

  12. Robert & Elisa, thanks so much for the help in getting to BlogHer. We are all over it… Heather (biz partner) will actually be in SF during that time looking for a co-officing partner (Ideal Bite will officially be co-located in Bozeman and SF by this fall), and so I am sure Heather will attend, and we will definitely do our best to get me out there too. You all rock.. muchisimas gracias for the support… jb

  13. Looks like I won’t be able to make the brekafast. The McCormick Cafe is a couple blocks east of the Sheraton. Good food there.

  14. Looks like I won’t be able to make the brekafast. The McCormick Cafe is a couple blocks east of the Sheraton. Good food there.

  15. John O’Donnell and the folks at TechRanch do a great job. One of their incubated companies, Bacterin won the “Outstanding Incubator Graduate” award this year from NBIA.

    The incubation community is very active and vibrant around the US and the world. Incubators are everywhere and serving the full-range of entrepreneurs, from high-tech clients to micro-enterprises. The best do a great job of developing and supporting entrepreneurs, it is great to see others “discovering” them!

  16. John O’Donnell and the folks at TechRanch do a great job. One of their incubated companies, Bacterin won the “Outstanding Incubator Graduate” award this year from NBIA.

    The incubation community is very active and vibrant around the US and the world. Incubators are everywhere and serving the full-range of entrepreneurs, from high-tech clients to micro-enterprises. The best do a great job of developing and supporting entrepreneurs, it is great to see others “discovering” them!

  17. Did you get a chance to see Frank Zappa’s Dental Floss crop? :-)

    “Movin’ to Montana soon,
    gonna be a dental floss tycoon…”

    I still love that song.

  18. Did you get a chance to see Frank Zappa’s Dental Floss crop? :-)

    “Movin’ to Montana soon,
    gonna be a dental floss tycoon…”

    I still love that song.

Comments are closed.