‘Minnebar’ Becoming Top Event for State’s Internet/Software Developers and Entrepreneurs

An annual Minnesota event, playfully named Minnebar — which grew out of a grass-roots tech industry initiative called Barcamp — is happening for the third year in a row here in the Twin Cities this coming Saturday, May 10, at the U of M’s Coffman Union.
Minnebar logo By 8:00 am, somewhere between 300 and 400 software developers, startup founders (and hopefuls), web designers, interactive marketers, local media reporters, angels, VCs, and other investors will start converging in one place as they seldom do in any venue in these parts, at any other time throughout the year.

Coffman Union They come to talk shop, learn, share tips, listen to presentations on the latest tech developments and tools, share war stories, listen to startup pitches, and (of course) take notes, blog, and Twitter about all the proceedings on the laptops and smart phones they never seem to have far from their sides.

The nice thing is, especially for the many self-employed among them, is that it’s all free — breakfast, lunch, a closing reception, even a free event t-shirt, and, best of all, more wi-fi bandwidth they they can possibly consume in one day — all courtesy of a bevy of sponsors that covet the attention of this highly influential and hard-to-reach group. The sponsors for this year’s event include VC firm Split Rock Partners, ipHouse, Swarmcast, SierraBravo, FindLaw, and the U of M’s Software Engineering Center (which is a special venue sponsor).

The original organizers of Minnebar — and its companion events called Minnedemo, which are evening gatherings that happen the other three quarters of the year — include three Twin Cities developer/entrepreneurs by the names of Dan Grigsby, Ben Edwards, and Luke Francl. (Edwards and Francl planned the ’08 edition of Minnebar.) The April ’07 event, held in St. Paul, had the distinction of being the largest Barcamp ever held in the U.S. to that date.

Something For Everybody

Sessions at this year’s events — all suggested by and conducted by the attendees themselves, many of them forming into panels, include such topics as these:

• The 7 Deadly Sins of Startup Marketing

• Scaling High-Traffic Web Sites

• Blogging for Benjamins: How To Turn Your Topical Blog Into Cash

• Communication For Geeks: How to Influence Your Boss, Your Customers, and Your Team

• From Programming to Profit: Skills To Pay The Bills

• Merb 1.0: Ruby on Rails that Scales

• The Mathematical Foundations of Music

• Enterprise Information Mashups: Web 2.0 + SOA + Data Visualization

• Distributed Teamwork: Managing Virtual Development Teams

• And much more…

A Soapbox for Pitching New Ideas

Minnebar even has a “Lightning Talks” session that gives anyone the opportunity to sign up to give a five-minute demo or presentation, whether it be a new technical idea or business concept, or perhaps you’re an existing startup that wants to update the attendees on your latest progress or product introductions. Anyone who wants to sign up for a Lightning Talk pitch may simply to go to the event wiki site, specifically to the Minnebar Sessions page, and look for the email link to apply. Or, to sign up for a full session (which can be 15-30 minutes or more), have your session title and description ready, then hit Edit Page and enter that information. Just be aware that time is running short, as the organizers will need to cut things off soon to publish the full schedule for Saturday’s event.

To simply sign up to attend (pre-registration is not necessary, but certainly recommended), just go to that same Minnebar wiki page, click on Edit Page at the top, and enter your name and company name or link at the bottom.

I’ll be at the event, along with the entire Minnov8 team of contributors, reporting on all the action. Watch our blogs or Twitter pages (as identified in the bios in the “About Minnov8″ tab at the top), if you can’t make it. For example, I’ll be posting at www.twitter.com/graemethickins throughout the day. But nothing beats being there in person! This is one fun, high-energy event, and really a must-attend if you’re involved in any way in Minnesota’s Internet or software industry. So, we hope to see you there!

UPDATE (5/5/08):  Forgot to mention!  Minnebar’s organizers have also mentioned there may be a “pre-event mixer” either this Thursday or Friday.  Keep watching the Minnebar site for details on where and when…

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