For more background on why, of all things, I’m putting together a list post, see Moving on from Silicon Prairie News.
Since my time at Silicon Prairie News has (almost) come to an end I thought it would be fun to think back and identify the best memories and favorite moments of the last four years. They were not determined via a complex algorithm and I cite no sources so please give them the all the weight and attention they deserve (probably not much).
1. Dwolla, Ben Milne (and meeting Ashton Kutcher)
I met Ben Milne in a coffee shop in Windsor Heights in September 2009, a few weeks after I started writing for SPN. Dwolla was just two people at the time but his enthusiasm for the problem he was attempting to solve was evident. I wrote the first coverage ever for Dwolla and now they’re routinely covered by everyone from the New York Times to Fast Company magazine. The ability to tell the Dwolla story has been fundamental to achievements of SPN thus far and I’m glad I was a part of it.
SPN Trivia: 7 of SPN’s top 12 highest viewed posts are about or related to Dwolla.
Also, getting to meet Ashton Kutcher when he came on PrairieCast to announce his investment in Dwolla was pretty awesome.
More, SPN Trivia: this is SPN’s highest viewed post of all time.
2. The meeting at Mars Cafe where we decided to go “all in” on SPN
Throughout 2010, while SPN was a still a passion project with only Danny Schreiber in a paid role, the four of us (Danny, Dusty Davidson, Jeff Slobotski and myself) met regularly to strategize about where this company could go and what it could achieve. It was late in that year at a meeting at Mars Cafe here in Des Moines where the four of us decided to go “all in” and see if we could turn the hobby blog about startups into a startup itself. I was ready to make the commitment, pushed for it, and Jeff joined, too. That’s an exciting and memorable day in the life of any company.
3. SXSW 2012 with the SPN team
I had the opportunity to attend SXSW as part of the SPN team three times but my favorite memory was 2012. The first two years we’d been spread across two or more hotel rooms but that last year I found a house to rent allowing most of the team to stay together. Brittany Mascio, Michael Stacy, Danny and I had a blast staying there together. It was also those three that pushed us to get tickets as a team to see Jay-Z during the festival which wouldn’t have been my choice but turned out to be amazing. Dusty and I had a bet on which of the two us would know the most songs (I’m pretty sure that I won). That whole trip was just a great team experience.
4. Big Omaha 2010 & Thinc Iowa 2012
All of the The Big Series events have been great memories one way or another but the two that I’ll remember most fondly are Big Omaha 2010 and Thinc Iowa 2012. 2010 was my first Big Omaha and instantly became the measuring stick for all conference and events that I’ve attended or helped to produce since. I split a room with Ben Milne and I live blogged the session where Melody McCloskey told everyone they needed to leave the Midwest to be successful. I’ll also always remember 500+ people tearing up together as Scott Harrison introduced us all to charity: water and the water crisis.
Thinc Iowa 2012 is SPN’s best produced Big Series event to date. It was one of the highest quality speaker slates and the production elements were above and beyond anything we’ve done before or since. While The KANEKO in Omaha is my favorite host venue, this event in Des Moines was where it all has best come together (credit Brittany for making most of that happen).
5. Getting mentioned in a book and featured in a documentary
In the last year I had two special and unique opportunities related to my work at SPN. First, I had the chance to talk with Mike Draper about the book he was writing “THE MIDWEST: GOD'S GIFT TO PLANET EARTH” and point him towards some of the technology and entrepreneurial facts that he should consider including. The book is awesome and I was tremendously honored to get a “thank you” in the appendix.
The other opportunity was when Nadeem Mazem, the director of “Silicon Prairie: America’s New Internet Economy”, asked to interview me as part of his documentary cover reddit’s “Internet 2012 Bus Tour”. See the documentary at siliconprairiefilm.com (heads up: I’m at the very beginning).