07.12.2009 Culture, Community, and Business

Why ThinkShout? Why Now?

A lot of people have been asking me lately why I've decided to set up my own IT company in "the worst economic downturn in modern history" [insert screams of terror]. In the interest of full disclosure, the most immediate impetus was because, like many other people these days, I was recently laid off from my more-comfortable, full-time job. But that's actually just the opportune starting point for this chapter in my entrepreneurial work with start-ups, small businesses and non-profits to make the internet a more inhabitable and productive space. The fact is, I've been promoting open source technologies to start-ups and nonprofits for much of the last seven years, and I couldn't think of a better time for me to start my own web technology business - for four key reasons:

Reason #1 - I don't see dust bowls roving through the Midwest:

This is not the Grapes of Wrath. We are not living in Cormac McCarthy's The Road. Credit might be tight. High-paying corporate jobs more difficult to find. But most people are still paying for the essentials - they are patching their roofs, fixing their plumbing, and buying new (hopefully more affordable) clothing.

Websites and small business software have become similarly essential products - businesses and nonprofits can't go without having a clear presence on the web or basic productivity and information management tools. And smart, lean teams like ThinkShout can provide these social entrepreneurs with high value at affordable rates.

Reason #2 - Open source is on the upswing:

Regardless of how few "internet mimes" you know or how little you frequent online social networks, if you have used a computer, you have used open source software. I will be writing a lot about open source on this blog - but for now, all you need to know is that there is a significant and rapidly-growing movement on the web to utilize more cost-effective, secure and innovative "community-driven" software technologies to build websites and online tools. Sound too good to be true? Well, it sort of is. And it allows small collectives like ThinkShout to leverage the work of thousands of other open source software developers to assist our clients.

Reason #3 - There is a lot of great talent available right now:

While I love geekery and the interwebs - what I really love is building teams and community. Already ThinkShout has brought together some of the most talented technologists in Portland (see our team page), and our strategic partnerships with other innovative firms are continuing to grow. I am incredibly motivated to connect the best minds, and more importantly the best communicators, in the open source world with the most inspiring social entrepreneurs in our community.

Reason #4 - Creativity and innovation are born of challenge:

These are exciting times in web technology. Combine the need with the talent and the drive - and you can do great things. The DotCom Boom was wonderfully prolific - but it also led to a lot of dancing badgers and other forms of tackiness on the internet. As evidenced by the good folks that make up the Small Business Web, this more frugal period is challenging technology firms to look more and more at interoperability and how to build more connected suites of productivity tools.

So, why should you chose ThinkShout?

...Because let's face it, in this economy, you need value - and you don't need to pay high agency rates of large firms with high overhead.

...Because your busy staff deserves to work with the most professional service providers.

...And most importantly, because your fresh ideas should leverage the most innovative social media tools available.

In closing, I'd like to thank those friends and colleagues who have been instrumental in helping ThinkShout get off the ground. Please feel free to get in touch with us any time to talk more about what we are doing, about how we might might be able to support your business or nonprofit needs, or even just about the current state of social media technologies.

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