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Olson’s Observations

Technology. Innovation. Science. VC. Media. :: by Eric Olson

Archive for the ‘TECH cocktail’ Category

Update: TECH cocktail Conference

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TECH cocktail ConferenceJust wanted to post a quick update on the TECH cocktail conference that is coming up on Thursday, May 29th. Frank and I recently finalized the schedule and posted it on the site. We really have a fantastic speaker line up if I do say so myself. We’re really psyched and appreciative that so many top notch folks were willing to give up time in their day to come and talk.

If you have been thinking about buying a ticket but haven’t yet here is your chance to get $25 off the already low introductory rate of $225. Just use the promotional code olsonsobservations when you register and you’ll be $25 richer (or I guess you could say $200 poorer but I really think the content we put together is worth much more than $200 - the glass is half full people!).

I look forward to seeing everyone at the conference. (Oh, and I really do have some more “real” posts coming up soon. I swear… Stay tuned!)

Side note: We even have “Attending” and “Speaking @” TECH cocktail Conference badges for your site. Snag one and add it to your site when you have a chance. Attending & Speaking

Written by Eric Olson

April 14th, 2008 at 10:39 am

Posted in Chicago, TECH cocktail

TECH cocktail takes home the 2008 ITA CityLIGHTS Award

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ITA CityLIGHTS AwardWow. Twelve hours later I still don’t really know what to say. For people who know me well they know that says something (yeah, I talk a lot).

Frank and and I were nominated for the Illinois I.T. Association CityLIGHTS award along with some truly incredible people last night (my friend Brad Spirrison and super angel Bob Geras among them) who all deserved the award as much if not more than we did. Winning this award is a huge honor and incredibly humbling. I can’t stress that enough. I was simply stunned we took it home.

As I said in my short speech last night TECH cocktail has really been a story of community. Frank and I look at ourselves as facilitators but the tech community here in Chicago is where the magic is and always was. We just brought it into the light.

Another key point to note is that the tech community here will grow much faster if we all work together. Every chance we get we help other events, startups and people because we need an ecosystem. Other organizations, the ITA being one of them, feel the same way and always try to help others. Bottom line: we need to work together. TECH cocktail certainly can’t do it alone (nor has it - we’ve had a lot of help in the last two years) and it will be much more powerful as part of a larger whole.

I am excited for the future of Illinois technology and for the Midwest overall. I think we’re heading into a new age where we can become the technology center we deserve to be. Do we want to be Silicon Valley? No, I don’t think we do. We want to solve real problems with solid technologies in order to create real revenues and long term sustainable value. This isn’t to say that Silicon Valley doesn’t do that as well but I do think that we tend to escape some of the irrational exuberance that is prevalent in the Valley and that should be looked at as a strength not a weakness.

Here’s to the future. Onward!

Written by Eric Olson

April 4th, 2008 at 10:16 am

TECH cocktail Boulder Wrap-up

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TECH cocktail Boulder MarqueeTECH cocktail Boulder has been a long time in the making. In fact, my friends at lijit have been nudging me for a while and I am glad they did because TECH cocktail Boulder was a blast. Everyone here has been so welcoming that I honestly wish I had another week or two to spend in Boulder to see all there is to see and to hang out with all the awesome folks I met. There is a thriving tech community here as is evidenced by all of the great web apps coming out of the Boulder area.

Speaking of web apps, four local companies were on hand last night showing off what they have been working on. Here are some brief descriptions of the companies so you can see which ones you may like to try:

Filtrbox: Business grade content monitoring and filtering for professionals and small businesses.

Newsgator: Consumer and enterprise feed reading and collaboration software.

SocialThing!: Digital life manager. Get all of your online “stuff” in one place.

SurveyGizmo: Survey creation tool.

Of course we wouldn’t be able to put on these events without the help of great sponsors and we had two outstanding ones for TECH cocktail Boulder.

First up was lijit. I am lucky enough to be able to call some of the lijit folks friends and they certainly made things happen in terms of helping us get TECH cocktail Boulder off the ground. If you’re looking for a great search widget for your blog please check them out. I love my lijit wijit. It is probably the most useful widget out there.

Second, last and certainly not least was skinnyCorp (threadless). These guys are friends from Chicago and they decided to not only make the trek down to Boulder for the event but also to sponsor the event for the benefit of the Boulder tech community. If you’re a t-shirt junkie like me make sure to check out threadless if you have a chance.

Along with these great sponsors we also had the benefit of some helping hands from DEMO. These guys helped us out with some logistics which made it much easier for us to plan the event from afar.

If you want to learn more about any of sponsors please head to their websites or check out our write up on them from a little while back.

Thank you again Boulder for having us. Frank and I had a great time and we hope to be back soon.

Written by Eric Olson

March 7th, 2008 at 1:41 pm

Posted in TECH cocktail

TECH cocktail on Metroproper’s Metroblurb

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Didn’t get to see some of the demos or talk to all the folks at TECH cocktail Chicago 7? Check out the video below created by Metroproper to catch some of the demoers elevator pitches.

Written by Eric Olson

March 1st, 2008 at 3:20 pm

Posted in TECH cocktail

Quick Wrap-up: TECH cocktail Chicago 7

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TECH cocktail Chicago 7TECH cocktail Chicago 7 went well last night. We ended up having over 500 of Chicago tech’s finest at the event (despite the cold temps outside) and, for me, it was great connect with everyone that I hadn’t seen for the past five months.

It’s great to be back.

Unfortunately Frank and I were so consumed with some last minute event details and with our two big announcements (new site & new conference) we didn’t get to the venue early enough to spend enough time with our demoers and sponsors.

However, from what I heard today all of the demoers and sponsors really got a lot out of the event as did the attendees which is all I could ask for.

I just want to take a quick second to thank all of the TECH cocktail Chicago 7 sponsors because without them TECH cocktail wouldn’t happen. A big thanks to Google, Imprint Enterprises, Mullen Law, Chicago Micro, Fiodan, Saper Law, Fitzgerald and Hewes, Hubbard One, Interactive Mediums, Forbes Technical Consulting, LiquidTalk and Sun Trading.

Also, make sure to check out the awesome new companies that demoed at TECH cocktail Chicago 7.

hoodFind: Find stuff in your neighborhood.

ContextMedia: Content solutions for the health care field.

TransFS: Comparison shopping for small business financial services.

MetroProper: Localized citizen media.

TextAdapt: Ad optimization for publishers.

Thanks again for a great night Chicago. Looking forward to the conference and TECH cocktail Chicago 8 on May 29th!

Click Here for the Official Wrap-up Post at

Written by Eric Olson

February 23rd, 2008 at 1:03 am

Posted in TECH cocktail

Big TECH cocktail News: New Site and a Conference

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TECH cocktail CONFERENCEWith our seventh Chicago event happening tonight Frank and I felt that announcing a couple of big things we have been working on made sense.

The first of our announcements relates to our new website. The new site has taken about a month to get together and it is a significant step forward for TECH cocktail’s web presence and the user experience on our site.

The new site most notably looks like a website, as opposed to a blog, but it is still powered by WordPress. The media around TECH cocktail’s past and present is now broken into separate pages (i.e. video, photos, etc.) and we also have separate pages for jobs, past demos and much more. Check it out and let us know what you think.

This new site will allow us to scale further and it provides a better place for our other announcement…

Frank and I will be putting on a one day conference on Thursday May 29 at Loyola University’s Water Tower Campus (Kasbeer Hall to be exact). We felt that a conference was the next logical step we needed to take to continue with our mission of getting Chicago noticed on a national stage and bringing the community here together.

There are only room for about 200 folks at this first conference so you should register as soon as you can. We already have a ton of great speakers lined up including Mike Domek (CEO TicketsNow/Aquired by Ticketmaster), Dick Costolo (CEO FeedBurner/Acquired by Google), Jason Fried (Founder 37signals), Gary Vaynerchuk (Wine Library/Wine Library TV) and Adrian Holovaty (Founder EveryBlock/Creator Django).

It should be a great day and we’ll be closing it out with TECH cocktail Chicago 8 (same time, same place as always).

Big things are happening at TECH cocktail and Frank and I are very excited for the rest fo 2008 and beyond. Thanks again to all of you for all of your support. We couldn’t do it without you. Onward!

Written by Eric Olson

February 21st, 2008 at 5:47 pm

Posted in TECH cocktail

TECH cocktail Spreads its Wings: DEMO, TECH cocktail Boulder and Beyond

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TECH cocktail Boulder in partnership with DEMO

It seems like only yesterday Frank and I were hanging out on Wacker Drive eating some potbelly sandwiches and dreaming up what would become known as TECH cocktail. Now, about two years later we are starting to see our idea blossom into something we never would have expected in our wildest dreams.

However, with all of that blossoming comes a lot more work. Frank and I were on the verge of getting addicted on caffeine due to our efforts to avoid sleep. Avoiding sleep, it seemed, was the only way we could continue to grow TECH cocktail both in Chicago and outside of Chicago to other towns and cities that are asking for an event. Let me tell you, the whole “sleep when you’re dead thing” is pretty much bull. Turns out you need sleep to function. Who knew?

After being perpetually tired for a while Frank and I began to discuss how we could continue taking TECH cocktail to the next level while still holding down full time gigs and sleeping at night. At that point in time we were introduced to the folks over at DEMO by our friends at Sun Microsystems. We then started talking to DEMO about their goals, beliefs and values and it seemed like there was a partnership opportunity there. We just had to find it (my specialty!).

For the past couple of months we have been working with the DEMO folks to see what a possible partnership would look like and we have finally emerged with our pilot event, TECH cocktail Boulder, which will be held on March 6 (RSVP here - can’t wait for my first trip to Colorado and to see all my Boulder based friends!).

DEMO brings a full-time experienced event planning staff to the table which is a huge help to us. Their staff will help us with event logistics and even with selling sponsorships (although Frank and I will still sell them directly as well) which takes a huge weight off of us.

With this weight lifted we are now free to continue to push TECH cocktail to the next level while, of course, maintaining its’ grassroots base and feel. After all TECH cocktail is all about the people and the communities in which it operates. We’re just here to amplify the technology signal in underserved markets and have fun doing it!

That said I want to extend a thank you to all of you who have helped Frank and I to make TECH cocktail into what it is today. There are a lot of people out there that really stepped up to help us and we owe you all big time. You know who you are.

Also, thank you to all of the TECH cocktail attendees - aka TECH cocktailers - who have supported us over the past couple of years and who really make the events what they are.

Last, but certainly not least, thank you to all of our sponsors past and present who foot the bill for everything we do. As we say in Massachusetts - you guys are wicked awesome!

We have some more big ideas planned for 2008 so stay tuned to to be the first to know about what we’re cooking up.

Oh, one more thing, our events rely on the support of top notch sponsors. If you are interested in sponsoring one of more of our events please contact us at cofounders [at] techcocktail [dot] com.


Current Press for the DEMO Partnership & TECH cocktail Boulder:

Somewhat Frank: TECH cocktail Boulder Colorado TECH cocktail Aligns with DEMO, Introduces Colorado Event TECH cocktail Boulder

Learn to Duck: The Story of the Rocky Robot Roosters or the Boulder TECH cocktail

Andrew Hyde: TECH cocktail Boulder or Andrew’s Birthday Bash

Written by Eric Olson

February 7th, 2008 at 4:55 pm

Posted in TECH cocktail