August 19th, 2010
Entrepreneur Camp Houston: Start Me Up – An Interview with Brian Truax
With Entrepreneur Camp Houston slated for this coming Saturday, we figured it would be a good time to sit down with one of the organizers, Brian Truax, and get an idea of what to expect. Thankfully, he took the time to answer our questions. All of you aspiring Startups out there won’t want to miss the interview or, more importantly, the camp.
The Loop Scoop: How did the idea of Entrepreneur Camp Houston come about?
Brian Truax: The idea for Entrepreneur Camp came about in early 2009 when Bridgette Penel & Travis Skweres from Werkadoo began sponsoring and attending LaidoffCamps in San Francisco and NYC. Shortly thereafter, the Werkadoo team decided that they were going to buck this recession by fostering entrepreneurship in the Houston community. They recruited their friends and fellow community advocates Paul Herndon, Barbara Brown and myself to play a key role in planning the first Entrepreneur Camp in 2009, which was a fantastic success.
TLS: What exactly is a BarCamp-style event and what are the pros of it compared to a speaker/lecture driven conference?
BT: BarCamp-style events have also been called “user-generated” conferences. Rather than showing up with your schedule in mind, ready to absorb, Entrepreneur Camp is designed to get you excited and ready to engage! At a BarCamp-style event, the attendees are also the presenters. Essentially, whoever shows up decides what happens, so attendees fill in speaking time slots, and share their information with the community in a user-generated learning environment.
TLS: Being that this is the second year of the Camp, what did you learn from last year and what differences should repeat attendees expect?
BT: A much more open space. Last year, the Houston Technology Center was very generous in letting us borrow their space, but the camp was held on a business day and created logistical issues for everyone involved. This year, the Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship secured the Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston to hold the event. One of the stars of the show last year was Start-Up Speed Dating and The Company Pitch Competition, which we are repeating in better fashion this year!
TLS: How many people are you expecting to attend?
BT: 300-400 startup warriors predominantly from Houston, but also coming in from the surrounding areas i.e. Austin, San Antonio, and Dallas.
TLS: What is the percentage of start-up owners to start-up investors?
BT: Entrepreneur Camp is for more than just owners and investors. The concept is to bring together anyone who has an interest in entrepreneurship. While the crowd will certainly include some of Houston’s most seasoned entrepreneurs and investors, it will also include talented individuals from all walks of life who are looking to get involved with a start-up. Without talented staff and partners to execute, an entrepreneur can have a great idea and all the money in the world but never get anywhere. Werkadoo will once again host a session called Start-up Speed Dating, a huge hit from last year’s camp, that intends to put these three key groups together to network and make lasting connections that will lead to a new round of Houston startups.
TLS: How long will the Camp last?
BT: Entrepreneur Camp is from 9-4.
TLS: If I’m bedridden and can’t attend the camp, is there another way to tune in?
Stephan Segraves (@ssegraves) and the Bauer College of Business Division of Technology will be livestreaming the main room. Stay tuned for the URL to be released tomorrow.
TLS: If The Loop Scoop were to pitch our idea to the panel of investors and business leaders, we would be a shoe-in. Right?
BT: If we say no, will this still get published? Just kidding! We’ve heard that The Loop Scoop crew is no stranger to the “art of the start”. Who knows…
TLS: So, let’s just skip the pomp and circumstance and you hand over the “yet to be determined… fun and beneficial prize?”
BT: Well, we really do have some great prizes lined up for our Elevator Pitch Competition winners. But we don’t want to give too much away. I can tell you that Enterprise Builders, a Houston-based consulting firm focused on mentoring Startups, has donated a consulting session designed to get the winning company lean, mean, and investor-ready.
TLS: In conclusion, what do you hope the attendees walk away with from Entrepreneur Camp Houston?
BT: There’s going to be a lot of knowledge-sharing happening, which will hopefully generate ah-ha moments. The most important thing that every attendee can walk away with is new relationships within the Houston Startup community. We want to break the silos that exist between the entrepreneurs, the investors, and the talent. Just like in entrepreneurship, and life in general, the attendees are going to walk away with what they put in.
Entrepreneur Camp is underwritten by The Wolff Center for Entreprenuership and the Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship Alumni Association
[Follow Brian Truax on Twitter - @btruax]