Canadian Web Hosting Blog and News
1Nov/110

Let’s Bring GiveCamp (@GiveCamp) to Canada!

I was tweeting with a fellow Vancouverite about an annual weekend-long volunteering event called Givecamp that occurs internationally over 15 cities. This year, the event occurred during October 21-23rd. You can follow the latest news and updates on Twitter at @GiveCamp.

What is GiveCamp?

Here's an overview of what this organization accomplishes: "GiveCamp is a weekend-long event where software developers, designers, and database administrators donate their time to create custom software for non-profit organizations. This custom software could be a new website for the nonprofit organization, a small data-collection application to keep track of members, or a application for the Red Cross that automatically emails a blood donor three months after they’ve donated blood to remind them that they are now eligible to donate again. The only limitation is that the project should be scoped to be able to be completed in a weekend."

Who should care about this event?
If you are a software developer, designer, database administrator, a project manager or even a social media consultant, you could donate some of your time for a cause that you believe in. Every event is run slightly differently, however, I was able to attend the closest one in the Pacific Northwest at the Seattle GiveCamp (@seattlegivecamp). The first night on Friday, as a volunteer, you had the chance to listen to 17 non profits go over their missions and their needs. For example, a lot of them needed website redesign, one wanted a social gaming app (one of the most rigorous project requiring the biggest team), others needed e-commerce tools added on, and some even needed some social media marketing support. The non profits ranged from health to food, from music to books and it went on. As unique as each individual is, there was a cause for everyone.

More on the agenda and event format
In the following two days, some volunteers taught some workshops throughout the day including: WordPress 101, Social Media 101 for Non Profits (which yours truly co-taught), SEO 101 for Non Profits, Using Microsoft Access Databases, and Salesforce.com/CRM for Non-Profits. In tandem, the software developers, designers, database administrators, and project managers worked in nearby conference rooms around the clock from Friday at 6 pm through Sunday at 4:30 pm when the project hand-off occured. It was a very long and fulfilling weekend to say the least.

Why should you care?
Around the office, we still talk about community very much, like during Social Media Week Vancouver or during Startup Day, and we feel that it's important to inform the rest of the community of other great events happening "close" by to home. While each of us continues to become busier and busier throughout our days and weeks, it's important to step back and think about non profits and the other organizations who are trying very hard to promote their own communities through sometimes, means that are more difficult than wanted.

Spotlight on Music for Life also known as "The African Childrens Choir."
Dawna, the Donor Relations Coordinator, was on sight and drove all the way down to Seattle from Langley to be part of this weekend. Her project workplan was to re-deploy her website using CMS and while we can all read the WIKI notes, the most amazing part is to view the before-design and most importantly, the amazing after-design work. I had the chance to chat with her about social media and it was very enjoyable to drop some Canucks commentary during my social media workshop with her. Her organization made a great effort to attend, and other volunteers like myself, cared very much to give back some of our time to the community at large. If you are interested in this local organization, you can follow them on Twitter at @acchoir or on Facebook at African Children's Choir.

As that recent conversation over Twitter came up, it would be great if Vancouver could also join this movement next year and be the first GiveCamp in Canada. Why not? On the other hand, which are your favorite non profits to follow and/or be involved with around here?

Kevin Liang
CTO / SEO Guru

20Sep/110

3 Startup Day Reflections on Community

Over 15 years ago, our co-founders, Tony Chu and Kevin Liang, decided that they would make the leap into the scary, yet exciting startup world. Over the weekend, as the newly appointed online community manager who’s interested in this new “world,” I attended my first Startup Day (Twitter: @startupday) in Seattle, WA, where I had the opportunity to hear 16 amazing 20-minute talks from extremely bright entrepreneurs including the keynote speaker, Eric Ries (On Twitter: @ericries), author of the new entrepreneur book called The Lean Start Up: How Today’s Entrepreneur Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses (2011). Eric is also known for his popular blog Startup Lessons Learned. He’s a great, charismatic guy and I even got my signed copy:

While I could spend my time going back through my own hashtag that day over at #startupday, I’d like to focus my article on a topic that’s always on top of mind here at Canadian Web Hosting Ltd.: community.

What made this event so interesting? In my opinion, it revolves around three main areas related to community:

1) People
The people are everything whether you’re looking internally within your company or externally to your peers or even competitors. This event gathered like-minded folks who either were thinking of starting their own startups or were already in business for themselves. There are already multiple commonalities that are left unsaid. Going into this event, you already know that these people are natural leaders. Let me explain: they’re extremely driven by a true passion for helping customers and solving every day problems. They don’t do it for money, they do it because they care about the end users. We care about you. Startups create and ship products every day with this hardcore mentality that the more you put in, the more rewards you’ll get it and the more your customers will appreciate it. You could feel the energy flying around the room; everyone there was so bright, sharp and intelligent – there was no doubt about that. The hundreds of attendees were restless to make a change, eager to come up with the next big idea, but also ready to help one another which brings us to our next point.

2) Peer Support
One of the benefits of attending this event as a startupper was: the advisor’s sessions. In these sessions, you could sign up for 20 quick minutes with a community leader to get more information concerning your current concerns with your already-created or soon-to-be startup. I had the chance to sit in with Berry Zimmerman, a true connector in the Pacific Northwest. He recommended a book called The Entrepreneur Equation by Carol Roth and mentioned that if you weren’t ready for the leap, you must read this book to uncover that answer. This book is it! It was almost endearing to see how supportive each leader were to openly give advice the way they did. It’s remarkable!

3) Common Goals
In the end, no matter what each startup is trying to focus on. Their products are created to help our society. This common drive in the room was apparent , not only in the lobby but even on stage, the content among side conversations or being taught to us were invaluable in understanding the do’s and don’ts when creating or leverage a startup.

GeekWire, a famous tech blog in the Seattle area, ran some great interviews asking two very blunt questions as they put it in their recent article. “What’s the biggest hurdle you face as an entrepreneur?” And: "Why did you decide to take the startup plunge?" A few entrepreneurs shared their views on camera for 20 minutes each.

To show our support to this vibrant tech startup community, we are offering discounts to any of the Startup Day attendees. This offer ends at the end of September by reaching me directly at felice@canadianwebhosting.com.

Kevin Liang
CTO / SEO Guru