Monday, February 20, 2006

Funding BrainJams as a Non Profit Sevice Provider

Been thinking a lot about how we are going to sustain and expand BrainJams to become the resource rich Unconference Community we envision beyond the occasional events we put together like the one coming up this Saturday at UC Berkeley. Last week in our newsletter, I relunctantly included a plea for donations as the last item - it was removed and put back about 5 times before I realized that I really had to start doing this if I was going to make our dream a reality.

Thinking like the entrepreneur I am, I came up with an idea for a service we are beginning to offer next week - wireless internet hotspot rental for unconferences. Thanks to a wonderful new technology that is called EVDO and some MIS grade routers, we will be offering a service that will allow event organizers to have relatively high speed wireless access for participants in almost any venue (within the major metropolitan areas that have the technology so far). This idea arose out of a real need we found with our BrainJams in DC since the Improv did not have wireless available. We were trying to get it together to trial there, but did not do so in time so we are hoping to try it out at our event on Saturday (in addition to the UCB wireless connectivity that will be made available through guest accounts).

This is not going to be a big money maker since we want to offer the service at a resonable rate - in fact the only reason for even considering this service is that is a critical enabling element for getting people together. Eventually, city wide free WiFi services may obliviate the need for renting this, but it is valuable in many situations today, so I figure why not? Was talking with Sean Savage the other day about how we might be able to mashup this idea with their PlaceSite software and he agreed. While not as cost effective as a $30/month DSL or Cable service connected to a $40 wifi router - it does meet the needs for several other situations where connectivity is not already present. Definitely a long tail sort of thing...

More details on the service, pricing and other extensions will be posted after the new BrainJams community site launches later in the week.

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