The idea for the Ignite Alabama podcast emerged while I was on a plane flying to Denver for the Authority Rainmaker conference in mid-May.
A few days before the event I’d interviewed Taylor Peake Wyatt, co-founder of MotionMobs, for an episode of Birmingham Shines, a second podcast I’d launched on May 1.
MotionMobs is an software applications development company in Birmingham that Taylor started in August 2010 with Josh Grenon. Josh has since moved on from Birmingham and MotionMobs but Taylor has successfully shepherded MotionMobs to its 5th birthday.
During the interview and our conversation before and after, Taylor mentioned the need for more resources to help Birmingham startups and aspiring entrepreneurs. She also mentioned the shortage of talented software developers—which is a shortage everywhere, not just in Birmingham—and the shortage of marketing professionals with tech industry experience.
Taylor’s comments pushed my idea-generator into high gear. She had identified a specific need that meshed perfectly with the overall plan for my Shinecast® “media empire.” (I’m only slightly-joking when I call it a media empire.)
While I was immediately receptive to the idea of creating and providing resources for entrepreneurs, it was clear to me that Birmingham Shines would not be the right vehicle to deliver the type of resources that Taylor seemed to be describing.
The Birmingham Shines podcast is designed to spotlight creators, makers and innovators in Birmingham, but it’s not specifically aimed at delivering how-to information and the show’s mission is broader than entrepreneurship. I know better than to try to cover too many bases in one show—a podcast that tries to cover everything will be of interest to no one, at least not on a regular basis.
At that point, during my conversation with Taylor in early May, I was planning to launch the third Shinecast® show in June—Alabama Shines. I had planned for it to be a state-wide version of Birmingham Shines.
When Taylor suggested more shows on topics like business planning and funding options I realized that I could create these resources, but to do so I needed to postpone Alabama Shines for a few months.
My Background: Nutshell Version
I have 12 years of experience as a business transactional lawyer under my belt and I spent several years during the dot-com boom as a full-time freelance writer, mainly covering technology in manufacturing. That’s where I learned about 3D printing, robotics and the network-of-things on the factory floor.
I understand business and the world of business and I also enjoy reading and discussing science and technology. I’m a sponge for information, a curator, and I can quickly understand and synthesize ideas and information, even if it’s in an area that I previously didn’t know about. That’s what I loved most when I was writing about manufacturing technology.
The Business Model Behind the Shinecast® Brand
Early on, I decided to create multiple podcasts and video-based content that relate to those course topics to build a potential customer base for the information products and services I would offer through the Shinecast® brand.
My plan all along has been to offer online courses and training, along with ebooks and other resources, starting with narrow topics in a few areas related to the the Shinecast vision and values and expand the offerings on a rolling basis over a period of months.
I’ve also planned to offer consulting services and freelance writing on a limited basis, not in the area of law, but rather in strategic communication with an emphasis on digital content and brand storytelling for inbound marketing. On the writing side, I do a limited amount of freelance work for clients who need highly-specialized writing.
Back to Ignite Alabama
So as I flew to Denver, I decided to postpone the Alabama Shines podcast for a few months and focus on innovation and entrepreneurship in Alabama.
I sketched out ideas for a podcast and other business resources that could help entrepreneurs and start-ups achieve success, in keeping with my guiding principles for the Shinecast brand:
Discover. Grow. Shine.™
The Ignite Alabama name and tagline didn’t come to me immediately during that business trip, but within a week or so the concept began to fall into place.
I did some Google research on phrases words and while I found a lot of uses of Ignite in various contexts, I didn't find anything specific to entrepreneurship and innovation in Alabama using the word Ignite so, on June 2, I registered the IgniteAlabama.com domain.
I continued to brainstorm names thereafter, but still didn't find anything that made me uncomfortable using it. And the more I thought about it, Ignite Alabama with the tagline Sparking Innovation blended with the Shinecast branding. So I registered AlabamaIgnite.com, as well, on June 19 and began to rapidly push forward to get the show ready to launch on July 1.
At some point in June, I discovered that Innovation Depot in Birmingham has an Ignite coworking space, but that didn't turn up in my research through Google. I stumbled on the Ignite coworking space when I picked up some Innovation Depot literature during a visit.
The Mission of Ignite Alabama
The mission of Ignite Alabama is to spark innovation and grow a 21st century economy in Alabama.
The Ignite Alabama podcast will feature conversations with entrepreneurs who are growing 21st century businesses in Alabama and with technology researchers and experts who can help us discover what’s next and where we can create new opportunities.
I’ll also be offering other resources through the Ignite Alabama website to help both entrepreneurs and business advisers. Some of these resources will be free to all, some will be available through one-time purchases, others will be available through a paid subscription and/or membership model.
From Tech Startups to DIY
Although tech startups will be a big focus of Ignite Alabama, I’ll also be telling stories of all types of entrepreneurs who are taking advantage of technology to start and grow 21st century businesses.
Regardless of whether you are a DIY-er working from your living room, a visionary launching a startup that needs capital from an angel investor, or a seasoned entrepreneur looking for ways to innovate, I believe you’ll find something here at Ignite Alabama to help you.
Innovative Entrepreneurship is the Key to Your Future
I truly believe that entrepreneurship is the path to future prosperity, both for individuals and for our state and nation. That’s not an insight that came to me on a plane in May 2015. That’s a belief that I’ve had from my earliest years when I was considering possible career paths.
It’s an exciting time to be an entrepreneur, wherever you are. The internet makes it possible to start from your garage or living room and reach a global customer base.
I hope you’ll join me on this journey across Alabama to see what’s happening now in entrepreneurship and to explore what can be if we put our ingenuity to work.
The podcast is currently available on iTunes, SoundCloud and should be available on Stitcher Radio soon. You'll also be able to stream directly from this website.