I'm at the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council's Innovation Un-Conference today, because the previous such conferences were clearly worth it. This unconference series was the personal mission of Bill Warner and, as of today, it's grown extra layers beyond a straight unconference, including one-on-one mentoring sessions for entrepreneurs and a social networking site run by Eventvue.
Not surprisingly, my interactions have been all over the block, as there are plenty of interesting people here and zillions of ideas, entrepreneurs and those that cater to start ups (lawyers, investors, marketing and PR, consultants of every stripe). There does seem to be a preponderance of social networking businesses and/or advice on using social networking to support whatever else you are doing. While I use a variety of social networking tools, I'm more interested in infrastructure for my next company, so this is interesting but distracting.
At the last moment I decided to host a session myself (on potential business models for services delivered via wireless mesh technology). We ended up in very far away room and the session was lightly attended (5 people total) but still a good discussion. Other highlights of the day include hearing Donald Eastlake's pitch for Stellar Switches and talking with him about his recent standards work (Donald chaired the IEEE's 802.11s while at Motorola and still chair's the IETF's TRILL working group). Later sessions included two on networking ideas and entrepreneurs and networking students who want to be entrepreneurs or want to work at startups. (I expect to need partners for 1-3 different businesses by early next year...). Two people to track are Bobbie Carlton who has been running Mass Innovation Nights and Lauren Celano who is launching a biotech careers site, Propel Carrers, but is thinking more generally. At Lauren's session I also met Rick Eichhorn, a recent Babson MBA graduate. Rick appeared to have evaluated all of the potential career networking sites and several of us urged him to write a white paper or consumer reports like summary. If he does, I'll certainly point to it. Unfortunately, I missed the session where Scott Kirsner apparently listed 40+ innovation networking events that happen in and around Boston.
If you live within reach of Burlington Massachusetts, I highly recommend future Mass TLC Innovation conferences.