Bar Camp Comes to Bradenton

Sara and Stan of Bar Camp checked out Bradenton’s new Riverwalk Park and immediately saw its potential for constant growth. When they saw the brand new Performing Arts Center the envisioned more than a standard Bar Camp meeting. Their imaginations were loosed. Bradenton’s business, government, and arts community embraced them. I am now a member of Bar Camp Sarasota/Bradenton.

Stan and Sara formed a new organization, called Spark Growth, to complement and build upon the Bar Camp “unconference” experience with some powerful new community events. Riverwalk 2013 was born.

On day one, 25 coders and programmers gathered at the offices of Realize Bradenton, to create a management website for Bradenton’s new Riverwalk Park. Soon, city administration, public works, public safety and the arts community will be able to manage its magnificent new park from the desk top. The replacement cost of this software platform exceeds $50,000. Get this: It is all free, courtesy of Microsoft Corporation, Dot Net Nuke Corporation, and 25 professional coders. They all joined to make this contribution to the Bradenton Community without any reimbursement—for the good of the community—a concept that just repeats and repeats in this entrepreneurial crowd.

On day two, The Spark Growth Economic Summit brought together a team of successful entrepreneurs, financiers, educators and civic leaders, who presented four separate forums of wonderful education for entrepreneurs and civic leaders from all over the State of Florida. There were no paid speakers. Everyone paid his/her own way to share with the entrepreneur community. Check the program: It was a huge success. Seasoned entrepreneurs shared their experience in market development, fund raising, growth strategies for the love of it. Educators and government officials pitched in with their support.

On day three, the Bar Camp Spring Un-Conference opened at The Manatee Technical Institute. MTI has performed, year after year as the top technical school in our nation. This spring, MTI opened a brand new $44 million facility to teach technical trades of every kind. Bar Camp entertained and educated around 350 entrepreneurs with fantastic sessions from SEO, marketing, software development, virtual offices, transformational entrepreneurship, genomes, management, finance and on and on and on. It was a learning feast. Once again, attendance was free and lunch was on the house.

ComCenter is delighted to help sponsor these events because there is something unique here that surpasses all other business forums and network events. Community Sharing is what Bar Camp is about. Personal Growth is the result. Business development is the byproduct. People who love business learn to work and share together for everyone’s sake.

Can and Should ComCenter emulate Bar Camp? Why not?

We understand the sharing part. For twelve years, we have been providing shared staffing, technology and space in order to help clients control overhead. We have served more than 750 small businesses. Ideally, the clients start small with ComCenter and move to larger facilities. We have lost far more clients to success than failure.

So, what’s missing? It’s shared knowledge! We want to attract our client to join with us in The ComTank. When we first opened ComCenter, the contraction was for “Communications Center”. Communication services are still an important part of our product offering. But we want to raise the bar a bit and focus on “Community Center”

ComTank is a contraction for “Community Think Tank.” Our goal is high. We want to help our clients to

  • Grow Personally
  • Strengthen their Business
  • Share Beneficial Experience with fellow team members
  • Make some friends

Here is our plan. ComCenter will retain a Strategic Leader who will guide our clients in their own personal and business development; team members will learn by sharing experience. We won’t be spoon feeding information by lecture.

  • ComCenter and The Leader will produce a Growth Strategy Series of topics each Clients can apply to his/her own business. The master will either make a kick-off presentation of each topic, or will invite a market place expert to do so.
  • The Leader will assign small teams to meet and share useful experience within this topic over a mutually agreed period (two to three weeks). Teams will be small enough to allow deeper exploration. Teams will set their own meeting schedules. Team members will share experience and knowledge on each topic.
  • Teams will reconvene to share their findings with the entire group.
  • We will start with the following Topics:
    • My business purpose. Why have I started this company? To work for myself? To have it work for me? To sell it? To pass to my family?
    • My product/service. What is special about it? Is there effective demand? Is it proprietary? Can it be easily duplicated/matched?
    • My business structure. Is it organized to achieve the purpose?
    • My banking relationship. Local bank or national. Is relationship banking dead? Cash Management support? Lending policies?
    • My attorney. Commercial specialist or generalist? Is my structure right? Don’t wait til you get sued.
    • My accountant. Am I profitable or do I just have a job? Would someone buy my company?
    • My marketing/advertising consultant? Do I run impulse ads, do I have a plan? Do I have internet savvy? Coordinated Message?

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