Ruby Riot #2: Lauzon & Lum Urge Partiers to Pay It Forward
For some, “pay it forward” is an old Kevin Spacey movie (and the last time Haley Joel Osment was recognizable). For others, it’s a mantra to live by. The latter camp would include Matt Lauzon and Jennifer Lum, co-organizers of the year’s first big tech party in Boston, set for next Tuesday, Feb. 21, at The Estate.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: Ruby Riot #2.
Last year’s inaugural bash in May attracted some 900 developers, entrepreneurs, investors, media, marketing and business folks, and other (mostly techie) guests. Lauzon, the founder and CEO of online jeweler Gemvara, calls Ruby Riot “ridiculously organic.” He would know, as he helped conjure up last year’s party with a few tweets and a can-do attitude. Besides Lum, his partners in crime are fellow entrepreneurs Cort Johnson and John Clark (original Ruby Riot instigators as well; the name presumably comes from the programming language).
This time the guest list could top 1,000. And, oh yeah, Governor Deval Patrick is among the confirmed attendees.
It’s not just a party, either. “The power of social and digital media is connective tissue that has greatly accelerated our path to innovation,” said BzzAgent CEO Dave Balter (a pretty decent party organizer himself). What he meant is that having parties that help lots of people connect is an important part of developing a productive and thriving entrepreneurial community.
To that end, the Ruby Riot organizers are putting together a raffle with prizes including things like mentorship time, intros to prominent people in the business community, and other entrepreneurial services. What’s more, local startup Kinvey has created a mobile app for the event whereby attendees can share who they’d like to meet or help at the event—and then find them there. Like last year, the organizers are urging party-goers to reach out to others with intros and advice.
Ruby Riot is the sort of gathering that probably wouldn’t have happened in Boston five or 10 years ago. Thanks to social media, the tech community has become much more, well, social. It’s hard to say what the payoff will be in terms of company successes, of course, but Lauzon says that last year several co-founders met and a couple dozen job connections were made at the party.
And Lum, who wasn’t involved in planning last year’s event, lends more perspective and mobile/social expertise this time. She’s an entrepreneur and angel investor who cut her teeth at Boston-area mobile institutions m-Qube (and VeriSign after the acquisition) and Quattro Wireless (and Apple after the acquisition).
You can judge Lum’s mobile tech prowess from this shot (left) she took of Lauzon and me, using CatPaint—which is neither the strangest nor the most awesome app I’ve ever seen, but it’s close on both counts.
Meanwhile, Lauzon draws his pay-it-forward inspiration from Mario Ricciardelli, a fellow Babson grad, who once sent Lauzon a check for $5,000 in a time of need and asked him not to pay it back, but to do something similar down the road for someone else.
So he and his co-organizers are trying to impress those values on all of Ruby Riot. “If everyone goes in with the attitude of ‘I’m going to help at least one person,’ good things will happen,” Lauzon says.