I usually try to avoid making one blog post about more than one thing, but I'm using the train travelling time to write this, and since it's stuff that is still floating in my mind, I guess it's better to write it down now than postpone it, perheaps forever.
Yesterday, in Coimbra, we had the second year of "TakeOff" happening. TakeOff aims to be a conference about "taking off" your idea/startup (computer-related).
This year the theme was achieved a lot better, and I liked to listen to all presentations but the last one. The event was preety good overall, but the number of folks there (more or less 130) and the tight schedule (started early, presentations of 45 minutes, only three pauses - two coffee breaks and lunch time, and had to run off after the event) made me loose half a presentation, and still I didn't manage to do not even a little part of the networking I wanted to. Lot's of conversations were left open, and other didn't even start, but I guess I'll manage to fix that in the comming weeks. This quite reminds me the importance of BarCamps, and this year I expect to see a more scheduled barcamp (even if schedules go against its rules) in order to gather people wanting to go thanks to the presentations, but giving more space for debate, socialization and networking.
About the presentations themselves, there's a lot that could be said, but I don't think it would be that relevant to say it now (or maybe I'm not just in the mood): or you were there or you weren't. So here's a really quick summary.
Mário Rela, from IPNLis, talked about IPNLis, it's relation with the University of Coimbra and how do they help new ideas and seeds evolve in a pre-incubation scenario, until it's time to the actual creation of a startup. It was really quick and not in depht, so lot's of people got the wrong idea about what IPNlis gives to this startup-wannabes (hello VD). The second part of his presentation was actualy by Tiago Serra, that made a quick presentation about one project he made via IPNlis to "Ciência Viva". I already knew a lot about that project, so I think that his video worked a lot better for me than for most of the audience. It is really interesting, in particular the issues around interaction and how did he solve them (nice playful interaction there). I'll talk to Tiago into uploading the video on YouTube or something, I really think it can be inspiring. Then, we had VD from 7syntax talking. It was a nice presentation for those wanting to know a little about the experience of creating a startup and finding out what to do and how to do it. VD uploaded his presentation here (PDF). The third presentation was a "I wanted to create my company and I did it" kind of talk, nothing really noteworthy there. Then, Bruno Pedro talked about tarpipe. It's a really really interesting project, since he's framework can be used to do lots of things, but the use case they seem to be after isn't that exciting. I already knew the project and wanted to test it, but I wasn't really excited about it before the presentation. I guess he should try to explain no tarpipe's website like he did on TakeOff, maybe with a video or something. A "developer's preview" is going to be available really soon (definively in a month's time) and I'll surely play with it.
After lunch we had a presentation of the cool "wine social network" Adegga, and it was cool to know more details of what's behind that service I use. Mario Valente, now unemployed, talked about what he wasn't going to talk and why (the past, basicly), and then told us about the three ideas he had for a startup - he's choosing from one of those. This description might seem like "boooring", but it was quite the opposite. Presentation here (PDF). Oh, and I've learned to quit that silly idea of opening a live music pub :-). Then, Celso - the creator of the biggest Portuguese web portal Sapo - talked about his experience (basicly the history of Sapo). It was quite fun actually, he gave some good tips (about which I took some notes for the "to think about" list) and he ended with a cool video showing how is it like to work on an ISP... To end the day, a VC talking. If this could be the cherry on the top of the cake (better a slice of the chocolate cake, right?), it was... disappointing - and boring. I guess that those nowadays actively looking for a VC it might have been interesting, but not for most of the people, if you take in account the public reactions. End of TakeOff.
From TakeOff we headed to a restaurant, had dinner and rushed off to FNAC, where a debate about Artists Promotion was about to start. Curiously I met an old friend, and I'm sorry I hadn't much time to talk with him. But talking with him led me to some thoughts about something really wrong going on in the Portuguese computer science marketplace. But I'll leave that to the "to blog about sometime" list.
The debate was about how to do music artists promotion, and was headed by the folk behind "Santos da Casa", a Portuguese radio show dedicated to Portuguese music, the guy behind Rastilho Records, a Portuguese indie label that has acts like Dead Combo or Linda Martini, and Miro Vaz representing his new (little more than one year old) indie label "rewind music", a Portuguese indie label that releases more "radio-friendly" bands (he has several acts playing in soap operas and such). I took a lot of notes and learnt a lot, even if in the begining the event was being quite boring. I'll apply several of the things I learnt there in the future, so you'll surely read about that later. For now it's suffice to say that what shocked me the most is that this labels are working in the same way that they would do ten years ago, with the only exceptions of having a myspace for all their bands, uploading the video-clips some of their bands do up there on YouTube, and - in Rastilho's case - they also have an "online store" selling their CDs, vinyls and merch on their website. They should know better by now, even if their business isn't suffering with the loss of sales majors have to deal with.