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Hack To Start
Episode 75

Fred Dixon

Serial entrepreneur, open source developer, and project manager for @bigbluebutton.

Listen to this episode on iTunes, Stitcher, & Google Music

Fred Dixon is the CEO of Blindside Networks and the Product Manager at BigBlueButton, an open source web conferencing platform for online learning. Fred had previously worked for Bell Northern Research which merged with Nortel before starting his own tech startups. In 2007, Fred met Richard Alam, a student at Carleton University who started working on an open source web conferencing software that was trying to solve the problem of distance education. A year later Richard & Fred officially launched this project as BigBlueButton. Fred is going to share tons of insights around raising money, building an open source company, how to build an awesome community and more!

Main Objectives For This Episode

  • Learn more about Fred
  • Learn what it was like building web startups before the dot com bubble
  • Learn more about building open source startups
  • Learn more about community building
  • And more!

Episode Overview

Fred Dixon is the CEO of Blindside Networks and the Product Manager at BigBlueButton, an open source web conferencing platform for online learning.

Fred had previously worked for Bell Northern Research which merged with Nortel before starting his own tech startups.

In 2007, Fred met Richard Alam, a student at Carleton University who started working on an open source web conferencing software that was trying to solve the problem of distance education. A year later Richard & Fred officially launched this project as BigBlueButton.

Fred is going to share tons of insights around raising money, building an open source company, how to build an awesome community and more!


What You'll Learn In This Episode

  • How Fred got involved in startups.
  • What it was like raising money before the dot com bubble.
  • How to build an open source startup.
  • How to build a strong community.
  • And more!

Some Of The Questions We Ask

2:08
Where are you from, what did you study and how did your passion for entrepreneurship start?

2:51
After University you spent approximately 4 years working at Nortel as a Researcher. From there, you decided to build and co-found your own company, DataBeacon. For those who may not know, what was DataBeacon and what motivated you to start it?

3:58
During your time at DataBeacon, you helped raise a total $4.3 million dollars. What was it like to raise money before the “dot.com bubble”? And can you share part of the process you used?

7:58
So DataBeacon was later acquired by Cognos as you were starting your second startup OpenLava. What was that process like and what were some of the motivations behind starting your second company?

9:56
Today, you’re currently working on a really cool project called BigBlueButton, where you’re the Product Manager. What is BigBlueButton and how did you get the opportunity to help create this project?

13:20
How did you come up with the name?

20:16
How do you approach building a community around an open source project?

29:31
Any recommendations on some great content that you’ve come across lately? - books, videos, blog posts, etc.


Here are some of the most important links and resources mentioned throughout the show.

Twitter Handles & Websites

Fred on Twitter
Blindside Networks
Big Blue Button on Twitter
Big Blue Button on the web
Tyler Copeland on Twitter
Franco Varriano on Twitter

Devices, Apps, and Books

The Hard Thing About Hard Things
Y Combinator

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