Welcome to Boulder, Somewhere, USA.
Is Boulder green with grass? Is it red with sand? Does it have an active nightlife, or great cuisine? I really have no idea.
I do know one thing though: Boulder is a good city for startups.
That’s the beautiful thing about the world of today. If you read it enough, you start to believe it.
Why I’ve been thinking a lot about Boulder these days though is because it is a great example on how we can brand Jordan as a thriving place for the region’s ICT sector.
It also coincides with a very hot year for us we count down to the first Tech Tuesday, an event, which according to its creators, has a very ambitious main goal of “organically fortifying and interweaving tech-ties in Amman to further our position as the region’s Silicon valley/Sahara.” It’s also in the same year where Jordan showcased its regional importance in terms of techy brain power at ArabNet, and when later on we wait to host another ICT forum in the capital come autumn.
So what can we learn from Boulder? These are quick and random thoughts, and I would appreciate any thought or idea that we can provide and document here for future reference.
1. A is for Assertive
Assertiveness is essential for branding.
It’s about saying, with a completely straight face, “Hey, man, Jordan is where the hardcore technology action is happening in the Arab world.” It’s about drilling it into everyone’s heads. It’s about getting the media to write about it. It’s about involving regional tech people in techy events in Jordan.
It’s about consistently convincing everyone that we got the shit, man.
2. Community is Love
The beautiful thing about Boulder as a case study is how the community takes matters into their own hands. They meet up, they discuss, they spread the love for tech.
That reminds me of my early days of involvement. I would have probably never become involved in this scene if I didn’t get introduced to some of the brilliant members of Amman’s tech community: Ahmad Humeid, Ammar Ibrahim, Isam Bayazidi, and many others. Connecting the community, nurturing it, and supporting it will definitely plaster Jordan’s position as an ICT leader in the industry.
Plus, Intaj can’t do miracles alone. They need the help of the community, and they need to realize that involving us to turn this initiative into a collaborative, buzzing project that is lifted by real voices and real experiences is the “key to success” (ooh, don’t you love corny phrases?)
On the flip side, we, as the community, have to realize that we need to take part of branding Jordan as well, which is why Tech Tuesday is such a cool event — it brings people together.
3. Good Design Matters
Jordan is stuck in the dark ages, design wise (and many other things wise as well, but let’s just stick to design today). The problem is not about the supply of good design, it’s much more about the demand for bad design. When demand for bad is high, why would many supply good? Demand and supply basic principles. That’s the main reason I decided to stop being a designer.
I really think that the ICT sector should be different. We should encourage the demand for good design. We should stand up to bad design. That can really set Jordan apart, as I completely believe that good design and technology revolve around each other; just think of Apple, websites like Engadget, and magazines like Wired.
Modernity and relevance in this industry are tied to aesthetics, and we can’t market Jordan globally unless the package is shiny, friendly, and fun.
Nice modern typography and pretty bright colors are effective weapons, sometimes.
Look at how nice the branding of Boulder is:
4. Wadi PHP
If the Facebook albums of my contacts say anything, then a very large portion of ICT professionals love hiking in the Wadis and mountains of Jordan.
Why not leverage this love? It would be a great marketing campaign for tech events, I can see the headline, “Jordan, where geeks face the challenges with both caffeine and nature.”
It’s easy and fun marketing: Let’s organize eco-tourism around ICT events and encourage people to both discuss the disaster of Arabic content online as well as try to brave the currents of Wadi Mujeb. You think PHP is messy? Try the regional bird poop at Dhana.
Let’s have brain-storming sessions on a visual style that would be a nice mix between technology and modernity with culture and history. Let’s use the bright blues, the warm reds, and the beiges in the branding of Jordan as a tech capital.
5. Cement the Community (Yes, that’s community twice)
Official bodies should help the community of this sector thrive. I know, I already said that, but I’m saying it again.
Yeah, it seems like everyone in this field knows everyone. That’s GOOD. Make deals with certain coffee-shops with fast, free WI-FI to provide discounts for the tech community. Let them start mingling even more, become friends.
Let’s pour effort into events like Tech Tuesday.
Invite the big players. And the small players. And the smallest players. Put them all under one roof and steer the conversations towards start-ups. Create something as simple and laid back as the Boulder Start Up Week, a mash-up of different industries that somehow have technology in common, all trying to bring ideas to life. Make it cheap, accessible to students. Make deals with hotels to provide affordable accommodation for people coming from neighboring countries.
Cut the official edge. Cut the bureaucracy. Make it fun, casual, friends-meeting-friends over coffee and nice scenery kind of event.
Those are my five cents of the day. You can google Boulder for some inspiration, and add your own thoughts and ideas below.
The goal: Make Amman the place to start a technology company. Make the rules easy, simple, publicly available to all on the Web.
Yeah, it’s a lot of work. But that’s the very essence of the tech field: Caffeine.