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Business Plans and Angel Investors

Another Interrelativity Milestone: Helping People Relate at a Holiday Party

Washburn Communication invited Interrelativity to deploy a proactive display at their holiday party at the Civica Office Commons in Bellevue yesterday.  I live (and work) for these deployments -- it was great to have an opportunity to insert this social technology into a fabulous place like Civica and among so many interesting people!  About 25 of the 40 or so guests created a profile before the party, another 5 created profiles at the party, and from what I could see and from what I heard (and acknowledging my biased perspective), the technology helped facilitate a number of social interactions throughout the evening.

I heard [of] conversations about minks vs. weasels, salmon and scuba diving, all triggered by images appearing on the proactive display.  Two people, who had known each other for 30 years, had independently (i.e., unbeknownst to each other) uploaded photos to their respective profiles that showed each of them dressed up as Albert Einstein at different costume parties [update: I just found out that one of them had spied the other's profile image before creating his own profile].  Several people expressed positive impressions about the technology and its impact, and a few had interesting and helpful suggestions for how to improve it, and/or extend it into new types of contexts.

The main application ran without any problems all night.  Due to some local networking challenges, there was a problem in uploading images into profiles directly from the web, but we could save them locally to the laptop I was using as a profile registration kiosk and then upload them into profiles on the server from there.  There were also some issues that arose due to the fact that the kinds of plastic name badge sleeves into which we typically insert the RFID tags aren't a typical feature of a casual holiday party.  Fortunately, people were willing to stick the tags into their pockets, and women with no pockets were willing to insert the tags into their handbags (or simply carry then for a bit until the RFID reader first saw their tags).

It was pretty challenging to independently handle most of the logistics (pack up, transport, set up, assist with profile modifications during the event, tear down, pack up, transport ... sleep).  I was fortunate to have the assistance of a neighbor for loading and unloading here at the house, and of Mark Manca and his extremely helpful catering staff at Seastar Restaurant (who also provided excellent food, drink and service throughout the event) for moving equipment into and out of Civica.  I have an even greater appreciation for all the hard work that others who have worked with me at earlier events have contributed ... and it's time to start thinking about -- and doing something about -- involving others [again] (I met someone at the party who may be able to help).

Now that the technology is fairly stable, and I have enjoyed a successful deployment, I intend to turn my attention to business planning again (particularly with respect to the financial aspects -- the holiday party was a promotional opportunity, for which I am very grateful, but I want to get much clearer about the costs and pricing that will support the growth of Interrelativity).  I attended two very helpful -- and mutually reinforcing -- presentations on this topic (an NWEN Business Plan Writing workshop and an MIT Enterprise Forum seminar on An Entrepreneur's Perspective on Angel Investing) last Thursday, and am finally ready to break through my resistance to engage in this increasingly important aspect of the business.

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