Episode: Episode 68—Levi Rosol of We Write Code

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Episode 68—Levi Rosol of We Write Code



Geoff Wood:    Welcome to the Welch Avenue Show, episode number 68. Today we're joined by Levi Rosol, the co-founder of We Write Code, the former co-founder of handmade goods marketplace, Goodsmiths. Levi works from Gravitate and We Write Code works with startups, helping to augment their software development strategy and implementation. And if you're enjoying the Welch Avenue show, we want to remind you that you can do us a big favor by sharing the post for this week's show on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Meerkat, Periscope, or whatever social network is hot these days. We'd love to grow our audience for the show and you sharing is a great way to help us do that.


Thanks and enjoy episode 68 with Levi Rosol.


Geoff Wood:    Yeah, I thought it went really well. I didn't know a whole lot about Grassley other than he's been ...


Levi Rosol:    Dairy Queen.


Geoff Wood:    ...around forever, but what's that?


Levi Rosol:    Dairy Queen.


Geoff Wood:    Dairy Queen, yeah. There was the Twitter stuff too, but sharp, sharp dude. Definitely knew the issue. I don't know how you stay up-to-date on all the pending legislation, so questions like, "So do you ..." like him asking, so it's really him listening to people's stories about patent reform or issues they've had with patent trolls. Then he'd bring up the House legislation, knowing that the Senate legislation would come later and he's like, "Do you agree with this provision?" He knew all that stuff. It's one thing to prep for a meeting, but I imagine that he had like 10 meetings that day.


Levi Rosol:    True.


Geoff Wood:    All on different things. I don't know how much that just gets fed to you and you're like, "Okay, here's the points you should ask about." I couldn't stay on top of it. I have trouble staying on top of what I got now.


Levi Rosol:    The number of years that he's been doing it, I'm sure it's been something that he's had practice with.


Geoff Wood:    Yeah.


Chris New:    The thing about Grassley is if you don't meet him for 5 years, in 5 years he's going to know your name, say, "Hey what's going on?" He's just got one of those memories.


Geoff Wood:    He definitely came in and he was 40 minutes early and took a tour on the 3rd floor and he's like, "Oh, so you're the one I've been reading about in the Register." I don't know if he's really read about Gravitate in the Register or if some aide just said, "This." Definitely knew what was going on. I don't read the Register that well, and I read all the startups. I was impressed. Probably won't vote for him, but it was really- That's more of a social issues thing.


Levi Rosol:    Sure.


Geoff Wood:    Although there are worse people that could be in that role, for sure.


Levi Rosol:    Sure.


Geoff Wood:    I liked that. I thought it was cool that he came.


Levi Rosol:    You had a pretty good turn-out as well.


Geoff Wood:    Oh it was packed.


Levi Rosol:    Was it?


Geoff Wood:    Yeah. We put the big tables in a square and ...


Levi Rosol:    In the bullpen area?


Geoff Wood:    In the bullpen, yeah. I think we had 20 spots around those and we had chairs all around the outside.


Levi Rosol:    Okay.


Geoff Wood:    It was packed. A lot of us, I think, were just listening. The people at the table had already identified an issue, so they all came with things prepared to chat about. One guy was from Casey's, General Counsel of Casey's came in and was like, "Patent troll have come after us for systems we've implemented and I know we have that process." And they've also said, "We can't work with startups because we require all of our vendors to indemnify us that what they're building is not going to have a troll violation in it so that that doesn't come back." And startups say, "We can't. You're too much of a target." So, it was interesting, much more interesting than I thought it was going to be, I guess.


Levi Rosol:    Well good, I'm glad the conversation was there. I wasn't sure how it was going to turn out. I didn't know if it was going to be mostly Gravitate members, or if the community was getting very involved or not. It sounds like there was good turnout from outside.


Geoff Wood:    Yeah. It was good. Let's talk about you though, and what you've been up to. New company.


Levi Rosol:    New company.


Geoff Wood:    Maybe start there. Tell people your name and what it is you're working on.


Levi Rosol:    Sure. My name's Levi Rosol and I am building a company called Wewritecode.com. We Write Code is an IT consulting company at it's core. We build stuff and that's bottom line. What we are trying to focus on ... We got thrown into this a little sooner than I had anticipated due to some employment reasons. We've been working to narrow down the niche, and that sort of thing, but where I think our sweet spot is really is working with startups. Working with companies that aren't necessarily the "I've got an idea and a checkbook" kind of startup, like needing to prove an MVP, more so the companies that need to go from "We've identified our customers. We have product/market fit and we need to go to the next level. We need to go from 100 users to 10,000 or 1,000 to 100,000." Something like that. Where scale is an issue. Outside of the straight-on development and building of applications that we can do, the culture definition, I think, is a big part that we can help with. Actually helping find full-time employees, people that are going to be a good fit for that particular company, and their culture, and just all around getting stuff done.


Geoff Wood:    Yeah.


Levi Rosol:    You know?


Geoff Wood:    I don't know that there are a whole lot of people that have the idea and the checkbook, so probably good that you're not focusing on that niche. It would be awesome if it was.


Levi Rosol:    They're out there, trust me.  As a developer, you get approached by people quite frequently.


Geoff Wood:    They have the checkbook, though?


Levi Rosol:    That's probably 30% ...


Geoff Wood:    Okay.


Levi Rosol:    ... that actually have the checkbook.


Geoff Wood:    I feel like people that approach me with the question of, "Who do you know that can do this?" are often like, "And who can do it for equity?"


Levi Rosol:    Mm-hmm (affirmative) Right, right.


Geoff Wood:    Less so now, than five years ago when we started this, it felt like there was a glut of startups. Maybe it was the economy at the time, or what, but there were a whole lot of people out there with a startup idea, and needing someone to implement it, and no way to pay for that.


Levi Rosol:    I think after the last five years- I'll rephrase that. Five years ago, the whole idea of a startup, and,"I'm an entrepreneur", a tax start up was more of a sexy thing. You've got all these thing that are happening. Twitter is happening, and Facebook is rocketing, etc. etc. I think over the course of the last five years, especially here in Des Moines, we've gone through that, and now gotten to the phase of, "We just need to get things done".


Geoff Wood:    Yeah.


Levi Rosol:    Let's be more realistic, maybe is the way to say it, about these ideas that are out there.


Geoff Wood:    I think that's a good point. We actually met, for the first time about that time. Do you remember when we first met?


Levi Rosol:    I don't recall the first time we met.


Geoff Wood:    The reason I know it was the first time is because it was my event in Des Moines. It was the original Startup Weekend here.


Levi Rosol:    Was that the first time we met?


Geoff Wood:    Yep.


Levi Rosol:    Okay.


Geoff Wood:    I actually had not moved here yet. I was getting ready to move. We actually thought we were going to move to Omaha. I knew people in Des Moines, so I thought coming to Des Moines Startup Weekend ...


Levi Rosol:    Yep. I remember you being there.


Geoff Wood:    It would be a cool thing. In between that, which was in July- I still wear that t-shirt. Between July and August, when we moved, my wife decided rather than go back to the school at Creighton, she wanted to do Drake, so we switched to Des Moines, and got to know folks. So your frame of reference is exactly the same as mine, although, you probably have ...


Levi Rosol:    That also was probably about the start for me, as well, in regards to getting outside in the cube farm, as I like to refer to it.


Geoff Wood:    What were you doing before that?


Levi Rosol:    Before the first time we met?


Geoff Wood:    Before you started getting involved with startups?


Levi Rosol:    My tenure, my history is working for MCI Worldcom was my first corporate gig.


Geoff Wood:    Oh, really.


Levi Rosol:    I actually started in Iowa City, moved to a few other cities, and landed back here in Des Moines.


Geoff Wood:    You've got to be rich with all those stock options, huh?


Levi Rosol:    I'll clarify that the reason why I don't work for them, is because I was laid off due to their bankruptcy ...


Geoff Wood:    Oh, okay.


Levi Rosol:    ... and moved back to Iowa, honestly, to look anywhere but Iowa. We were totally Chicago, Minneapolis, St. Louis, anywhere but Iowa, and happened to end up here in Des Moines. In retrospect, I have no regrets on that. I love where Des Moines has come from and is now, and the kids are in school.


Geoff Wood:    Grew up in Iowa, or no?


Levi Rosol:    Yep, northeast Iowa.


Geoff Wood:    Okay


Levi Rosol:    Waterloo/Cedar Falls area.


Geoff Wood:    Okay.


Levi Rosol:    Yeah.


Geoff Wood:    Yeah, so you came back here. What did you do when you got back here?


Levi Rosol:    I was working for a marketing company here in town, Two Rivers Marketing, in their IT department. Again, economy hits, and they had to thin the employee base for a while. That's what got me out, and that's about, I think, when you an I met ...


Geoff Wood:    Okay.


Levi Rosol:    ... was in that time frame. I forget what year it was, but ...


Geoff Wood:    Yeah, 2009 was when that first startup weekend was.


Levi Rosol:    Yep, that sounds about right.


Geoff Wood:    You're right, the economy was down.


Levi Rosol:    Yep.


Geoff Wood:    The end of the recession, we didn't necessarily know that then, but ...


Levi Rosol:    Yep.


Geoff Wood:    At least it was tapering off. It seemed like there were a lot of people- I remember just a ton of little startups, because that was when we started doing Silicon Prairie News coverage, so ...


Levi Rosol:    Mm-hmm (affirmative)-


Geoff Wood:    ... we were hearing from everybody. Lots of them were people's part time jobs. Working full time, startup on the side. Not ever giving it the time it needed.


Levi Rosol:    Mm-hmm (affirmative)-


Geoff Wood:    You kind of knew at the time, that those were not going to, probably, shake out to be ...


Levi Rosol:    Sure.


Geoff Wood:    ... long standing things.


Levi Rosol:    Well, one out of ten succeed, right? One out of ten even continue past the first six months.


Geoff Wood:    Yeah, I would guess that number. I've heard that statistic, but I would guess that number is a lot lower if it's not a full time commitment for you.


Levi Rosol:    Sure.


Geoff Wood:    Yeah, interesting. You did that, and then you are at Goodsmith's as well.


Levi Rosol:    Yep.


Geoff Wood:    You were one of the founders there.


Levi Rosol:    Yep. The last three years spent building and growing Goodsmiths to the best of our ability. We had, at one point, a team, I believe, of nine or so full-time employees. That was a fun experience. We learned a lot during the process of Goodsmiths.


Geoff Wood:    I don't know how much you're comfortable sharing about that, and I didn't ask you before hand, but ...


Levi Rosol:    Edit button?


Geoff Wood:    Yeah.


Levi Rosol:    Just kidding.


Geoff Wood:    Online marketplace for ...


Levi Rosol:    Yep.


Geoff Wood:    ... handmade goods.


Levi Rosol:    Yep. Online marketplace for handmade goods. The comparison that was often made, and we would often make, is that we were similar to Etsy. Basically allow crafters to set up an online shop, and sell the things that they create. That's the gist of it.


Geoff Wood:    You worked on that with James Eliason ...


Levi Rosol:    Yep.


Geoff Wood:    ... who is your co-founder. I remember when that got started, there was a whole piece in there about a group buying thing too.


Levi Rosol:    Yep.


Geoff Wood:    You guys pivoted away from that. Maybe, talk about what the idea was, and what you learned through the process.


Levi Rosol:    That's really where the, I guess you would say, the hypothesis started, was with the group-buying aspect of Goodsmiths. Basically the idea was, if I make a birdhouse and I normally sell it for $75, and I sell them one at a time, if I could find ten people to buy the same birdhouse, maybe paint it differently or whatever, but ultimately the same birdhouse, then I can reduce my cost, as the maker by buying my boards in bulk, my paint in bulk, setting up a jig, and ultimately saving myself time and effort, because I'm making ten of them versus the one off. We built a platform around that to allow sellers to set up their particular deals, as well as buyers to then participate, and then they would have to get to a threshold or a tipping point. Once that was reached, then everyone would get charged. The seller would be notified that the deal was complete, and they could go off, and start building it.


Geoff Wood:    Why the decision to pivot?


Levi Rosol:    Ultimately, I think it was a tough concept to sell. It's one thing when you think about what you hear of the success stories on Etsy, and different hand-made sites, of the stay at home mom who's now making a hundred thousand a year, or this person was able to quit their job and do this full time, sort of thing. That's a fraction of the percentage of the audience. What we saw a lot of, in the case of Goodsmiths, were sellers that were selling one or two a week. We had sellers that were doing more, but on average they were only selling a couple items a week. Getting to the threshold of I need ten, or I need fifteen, twenty, whatever it is, it was difficult for the sellers to do.


Geoff Wood:    It was impractical.


Levi Rosol:    Yeah. It wasn't practical. Towards the end, before we removed that feature, we saw a lot of sellers that were just doing two. They just wanted two people to have the item.


Geoff Wood:    Oh, sure.


Levi Rosol:    They would give, like a 10% discount. Really, the community changed it more into a discount machine, than a group-buying or kick-starter type product.


Geoff Wood:    Okay, and I think that makes some sense. Built the company up to you said nine or ten, nine people?


Levi Rosol:    Mm-hmm (affirmative)--


Geoff Wood:    You guys had a nice little office in Valley Junction, won the Turnstone contest.


Levi Rosol:    Mm-hmm (affirmative)-


Geoff Wood:    I remember. That was really cool. Where did things change, or what was the realization that you came to that things were going to change, that ultimately sun-setted the company?


Levi Rosol:    Sure.  It's expensive to have ten full-time employees. That's bottom line.


Geoff Wood:    That's true.


Levi Rosol:    I think James and I both would agree, I know we both would agree, that we still really like the concept and everything that we built with Goodsmiths. We learned a ton with it. We had issues with funding, and on that side of the business, but really, bringing eyeballs into the site. We probably could have allocated more funds towards marketing, and building out that funnel of people, versus building out some of the features that we built out over the years. Hindsight is 20/20. We can look back and see those things now, but at the time, we felt like we were making good decisions. I think that ultimately answers the question.


Geoff Wood:    One thing that's nice about the startup world is that people shouldn't necessarily think of the negatives that come from shutting down a company, but more like what the takeaways are, so the hindsight is good lessons for the rest of the people, right?


Levi Rosol:    Yep, absolutely.


Geoff Wood:    What else did you learn, through that process, that you'll apply in your next company?


Levi Rosol:    I think for my side, being in the development world, and being co-founder with James. James was definitely more in the marketing and business side, and I was more on the development. Taking more of a lean startup approach, and validating ideas before we just jump right into building them. It was exciting for my team, in particular, to build out these ideas that we had come up with. Looking back, I don't know that we validated as many of them as we could have, as thoroughly. I think that's probably the number one thing that I take away from what we did with Goodsmiths. That's what I'm working with clients now, quite honestly. "Great, you've got this system in place, and you want to build this feature. Why do you want to build this feature? What's the value that it's providing? Have your customers asked for it? Have you shown prototypes to customers to validate that it actually is a need, before you go and spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars building out this particular whatever?" Yeah, I think that's the biggest takeaway.


Geoff Wood:    Yeah, and that makes sense. It was kind of a bummer that you guys did close down, because I felt like Goodsmiths was kind of- We've been in this race, this very slow race to determine who else is going to rank next to Dwolla , as these are the big Des Moines startups. I felt like Goodsmiths was on that trajectory. Maybe artificially, because you'd hired ...


Levi Rosol:    You voted us for that in an article at one point or ...


Geoff Wood:    It's the number two startup in Des Moines, yeah. There were three or four.


Levi Rosol:    Or at least in a ranking of some sort. But anyways-


Geoff Wood:    I try not to rank people, but I think what I did was like, "Here's some people who might be that," and I stand by that. Maybe got a little bit ahead on the hiring, which hurts the company funds to do some of the other stuff.


Levi Rosol:    Yep.


Geoff Wood:    I totally get that. It is interesting to see some of the folks now, two or three years later, than when I wrote that article. The companies that have gone through accelerators and things are still very slow to hire, making sure they're spending- The bots, the- I guess not so much Men's Style Lab. They've hired a lot of people, but they have a really hands-on business. NextStep in Cedar Rapids, they are still taking very analytical approaches, so I think people are learning from some of those things.


Levi Rosol:    Mm-hmm (affirmative)-


Geoff Wood:    When you talk funding, I know you guys really were vocally disappointed in funding, James probably more than you. Upset some people, maybe ...


Levi Rosol:    Sure.


Geoff Wood:    ... with that. What do you think about venture capital in this state, at this point.


Levi Rosol:    To be completely honest, from a Goodsmiths standpoint, that really was James' realm, and I really left that up to him. I don't disagree with the things that James put out there publicly, but I don't think I'm in a position to make comment of the state of funding ...


Geoff Wood:    Sure.


Levi Rosol:    ... in Des Moines or Iowa. It's tough. I will say that. It's tough for a startup to go out there, especially a startup that, in our case, we had a pretty healthy seed fund, via friends and family. Validating that was difficult. Going to additional investors and saying, "This is what we've put into the business. This is what we need to do," I think was difficult. We go a lot of, "I'm on board, but we need you to find that lead investor, we need somebody to do the due diligence and to go through all the paperwork," and really vet us. A number of investors in that scenario, but getting that lead investor was the difficulty. And it's a difficulty that I hear other startups around town, or around Iowa having the same issue.


Geoff Wood:    I do as well.  I hear that too.


Levi Rosol:    Whether it's at an angel-level seed, or whatever. Dollars are out there. I think somebody to come in and take that leap of being a lead investor would be tremendous for the state in general.


Geoff Wood:    Yeah, and companies like Next Level Ventures and folks that we've seen develop that are a great addition to the scene, don't want to do that either. They are looking for something a little later stage making money, or at least producing revenue ...


Levi Rosol:    Yep.


Geoff Wood:    ... at that point, not necessarily the early piece of that. It probably is the next step. What's missing here is, now we've got people at various levels, but there's still this initial piece that needs to be figured out.


Levi Rosol:    Yeah. I do think programs like the Iowa Startup Accelerator, and the Global Insurance Accelerator here in town are going in the right direction for that, because they are bringing people, and getting them through a program. I hope that the investors in the area have visibility into what's going on inside of these programs. It helps alleviate  the concern of being that lead investor, and jumping in. Allowing those investors to see them work through the flow of where they started on day one of the program, versus day ninety or a hundred, whichever program it is. How they utilize the funds that they were given in those programs, and ultimately help them feel more comfortable with that investment.


Geoff Wood:    Yeah, I think that could make sense. That's more educating investors on getting them comfortable and taking the leap to be lead investors than creating new lead investors.


Levi Rosol:    Correct. Taking lead on an early investment. Like you said, Next Level Venture, they're generally a further, further in the process they want to see revenue and what-not. Maybe these programs will hopefully help them feel more comfortable making earlier investments.


Geoff Wood:    With We Write Code, now ...


Levi Rosol:    Mm-hmm (affirmative)-


Geoff Wood:    You guys are not building your own product, so you guys are getting paid project by project, or hour by hour I assume.


Levi Rosol:    Correct.


Geoff Wood:    Not necessarily the funding needs that you had at Goodsmiths for this company.


Levi Rosol:    Right.


Geoff Wood:    Talk a little bit more about the types of clients that you want to work with, and ...


Levi Rosol:    Sure.


Geoff Wood:    ...who should approach you for your services.


Levi Rosol:    Sure. I'll be honest in saying, everybody has bills to pay, and I'm no different than that. From a development standpoint, our niche, or where we have a good fit, is really working with the startups that have proven themselves, that have some sort of product out there, have some sort of outside vetting. Maybe they've been through an incubator or accelerator. They have some seed funding, or bottom line, they have customers. That's really our ideal. Clients that need help with scaling, with hiring, finding the right people to flesh out there team. A company that maybe only has one or two developers that have built out their product and gotten from nothing to the bubble gum and duct tape stage, needing to take it to the next level. Something that's going to scale, and be more robust, and ultimately drive more sales, more revenue for their company.


Geoff Wood:    Cool. I think that's probably a big need around here. I don't know exactly how big the market is, but it's nice to have some folks working on that.


Levi Rosol:    Mm-hmm (affirmative)-


Geoff Wood:    Who else is on the team? Who's all involved in We Write Code?


Levi Rosol:    Sure. My business partner is Brad [Angelsick 00:20:46]. He's in North Carolina. His background is very similar to mine, in working for small companies, and having an entrepreneurial focus. We've got some developers over in Cedar Rapids that are doing some work for us now, as well as here in Des Moines.


Geoff Wood:    How did you meet Brad in North Carolina?


Levi Rosol:    Sure. Brad I met via an open source project that I started years ago. We worked on that particular project. We've worked on some other projects over the years, and that's how we met.


Geoff Wood:    Oh, cool, and just kept up through that?


Levi Rosol:    Yeah.


Geoff Wood:    There's a couple of people that have stories like that, that are working together. Some people have never met each other in person.


Levi Rosol:    We have never met each other in person.


Geoff Wood:    Oh, really.


Levi Rosol:    Correct. We've never met in person. We've just worked on a number of projects have very similar styles and goals, and how we want to approach this. We thought it was a good fit.


Geoff Wood:    Yeah.


Levi Rosol:    It allows us to cover two markets at once, both Des Moines, as well as North Carolina.


Geoff Wood:    So you are both doing the sales end of this ...


Levi Rosol:    Yep.


Geoff Wood:    ... and all that as well.


Levi Rosol:    Yep.


Geoff Wood:    Have you met the other folks? You're involved in user groups and ...


Levi Rosol:    Sure.


Geoff Wood:    ... code camps, and things like that. Is that how the other folks have gotten involved?


Levi Rosol:    Yep. The other people that are doing work with us, Startup Weekends,  as I think specifically about the people on our team right now, Startup Weekends are probably where I met the majority of them. The user groups that are around town, and different events and what-not, they're all great places to meet developers or any type of person that you're looking for.


Geoff Wood:    That's interesting. I don't know that people use Startup Weekends as recruiting very often, or even long term like that.


Levi Rosol:    Sure.


Geoff Wood:    It might be an undersold benefit for people to participate.


Levi Rosol:    Maybe I've taken advantage of that more than most then. My first startup, ScoreYard, Mike Templeton ...


Geoff Wood:    Oh, yeah.


Levi Rosol:    ... one of our co-founders, we actually met at the first startup weekend that you were at.


Geoff Wood:    I forgot about Scoreyard.


Levi Rosol:    James and I had met a couple times prior to the Startup Weekend, but I was helping to organize one, and via that process, he wasn't actually able to attend, I was like, "Hey, I've got this idea. Let's talk." That's how we met as well.


Geoff Wood:    Okay.


Levi Rosol:    Yeah. They are a great event. I love Startup Weekends. If there was a pitch that I was going to give here, Startup Weekend would be it. It's basically an extended interview with like-minded people. You've got 54 hours to sit in a room, hash out and idea, and whether it's something you're passionate about is irrelevant. It's more about getting to know people and the talents that they have.


Geoff Wood:    Yeah. I struggle with startup weekends sometimes. I've participated in two, that one that we talked about, and then one that we actually just talked about in the last podcast with Max Farrell down in Arkansas, but I've been to a bunch of them. I feel like sometimes, they just aren't- Like that very first one that we went to, I thought, the way they branded that, like you were going to walk out of there with a startup. It took away from that. They just branded it wrong. It's more like a laboratory experiment, of just, experience it, to see if it's the direction you want to go. It's a good dip your toe in the water kind of thing. I've sometimes seen them now talk about them like founder dating. My big thing at that first one, the people on my team were great, but, "I just met you, do I really want to work on a project with you?" That type of thing. In Arkansas, we did really well, but I was from Des Moines, and this girl was from Columbia, Missouri ...


Levi Rosol:    For the team you were on?


Geoff Wood:    The team, and some people were from Little Rock, and some people from Feyettville. I was like, "There's no way this team is going to,"- I don't know any of these people, so I have no way to work together. The idea was still valid, and I would still be interested in pursuing the idea someday. I struggle a little bit with it. I do think it's a good entry point for some folks. I think it's great for students.


Levi Rosol:    Yeah.


Geoff Wood:    We've always lacked on development talent at the ones in Des Moines, but it seems that that is getting corrected a little bit. We've struggled here in Des Moines too. The last couple have been smaller.


Levi Rosol:    The last one, in particular, I think we had the fewest. I mean, weren't we under thirty or something like that?


Geoff Wood:    Right around there, I think, yeah.


Levi Rosol:    The very first one had thirty-three. I remember that.


Geoff Wood:    Okay, and there was one I know that had well over a hundred.


Levi Rosol:    Right.


Geoff Wood:    I don't know if that was the peak, but somewhere in between. What do you think about Startup Weekend in Des Moines? For as big as advocate as you are, have we just done to many of them? Do we need to take a break? What's going on there?


Levi Rosol:    I don't have the answer for that. I know for a while there that it seemed like we were doing them frequently.


Geoff Wood:    Sometimes it was twice a year.


Levi Rosol:    There was twice a year. For my observation, from an attendance standpoint, started to take a dip was when it exploded, in regards to Startup Weekends in Iowa. You've got the Northwestern Iowa, you've got Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Cedar Falls I believe has one, Ames. Ames is obviously a big one for us.


Initially when Startup Weekend started here in Des Moines, I felt like we were getting a lot more people from out of town, specifically Ames, because it's so close, and the student population there. Even the other schools here in the state, we'd have people that would carpool together.  They would end up staying the night.  As they became more common in the state, it seemed like Des Moines- That's when the numbers started to come down. I don't know if there truly is a correlation for that, or if it's just event burnout. There for awhile, we had a number of events happening in town: Hackathons and that sort of thing. Maybe it was just on the organization side. I know that there was a couple startup weekends that we did that were very last minute.  Putting together getting the venue, and getting the word out there, getting tickets, everything put together. I think it's a mix of a number of things.


Geoff Wood:    As you said, it probably is a little bit of all those pieces. I think that is probably the case. It would be interesting, I think, to take a little break for ...


Levi Rosol:    Yep.


Geoff Wood:    ... sure, a year. What was it, October, when the last one was?


Levi Rosol:    I believe so.


Geoff Wood:    It feels like a long time ago. I guess it really wasn't.


Levi Rosol:    Yeah, no.


Geoff Wood:    It was three or four months ago. I wonder if there's a next tier of organizers that need to step up too. It has been a lot of the same people. I think it's easy to get tired of organizing the same event over and over again, and without new blood-


Levi Rosol:    Yep.


Geoff Wood:    I'm never going to organize a Startup again, but [inaudible 00:27:21] and some of those things, I've just had- [inaudible 00:27:23], I finally just had to say, "I can't do this anymore." I tried to bring in a couple different people and it never really took off. I still wound up doing all the organization, and then I finally just said, "I'm hanging it up." A month later Benedict McDougal came in and said, "This is fun. I'll do it." Now, it's bigger than it ever was when I was doing it. I think there's a lot of value in that piece.


Levi Rosol:    I agree with that. Over the years, since I've been here in Des Moines, I've injected myself into a number of different groups and organizations, user groups and code camps, and what not. You're absolutely right. There's no good mechanism for doing that. I think people feel, "Oh, Jeff is the one that runs this event," or, "Levi does this, and if I try to step up, then I'm somehow stepping on toes," or what-not. It is a very welcome thing in any community run event, organization, whatever it is, for new blood to come in.


Geoff Wood:    Do you know who does this better than anybody else? One Million Cups. I think they've gone through twelve organizers in two years. There's always three or four of them, and there's always somebody leaving, and always somebody joining.


Levi Rosol:    Sure.


Geoff Wood:    The people who are running it now are great, but none of them started it. It's totally turned over in two years. That's probably really beneficial, so that you always have somebody else. I think one they have struggled with, is that the people who organized it, kind of drop off then. They aren't regularly in attendance.


Levi Rosol:    Sure.


Geoff Wood:    For different reasons. They are probably legitimate, like Aaron Hoffman, and Ethan, and different people, the first ones. You really don't see them there as often as we used to.


Levi Rosol:    Jobs change, schedules change.


Geoff Wood:    Yeah.


Levi Rosol:    I'm not a fan of 8:00, by the way.


Geoff Wood:    Well, yeah, I pushed for that.


Levi Rosol:    I know.


Geoff Wood:    There are different reasons for that. I thought it was worth trying. I don't know that it's grown any bigger though, so I don't know that it needs to stay there. Part of the issue is, I think the website still says 9:00, so people always show up at 9:00 as well.


Levi Rosol:    Oh, really?


Geoff Wood:    At the end of it, but that's a whole different story. There probably is a next tier of startup community, buildery things. Like whatever event organizers- And I think it's probably been on us, the people who have been doing this for five years. I probably haven't done a good job at inviting other people, or putting succession planning in place to do that, so they kind of hit a crunch with some of this.


Levi Rosol:    Yep.


Geoff Wood:    I find it real interesting. Alright, dude, thanks for your time this afternoon. If folks want to find out more about We Write Code, where's the best place to go for that?


Levi Rosol:    Wewritecode.com or just send me an email: levi@wewritecode.com


Geoff Wood:    If we want to find out more about you? Twitter?


Levi Rosol:    Twitter is probably fair. The last couple years, I haven't used Twitter a whole lot. Send me an email, give me a call.


Geoff Wood:    Okay.


Levi Rosol:    I'll make time for you.


Geoff Wood:    Sounds good. Thanks for your time.


Levi Rosol:    Thank you.


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