Burlington Brainstorm: Friday Night | 802 Online

Burlington Brainstorm: Friday Night

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I went to the Burlington Brainstorm last night, to check out kluster, the new collaboration application from Ben Kaufman and crew.

I'm a homebody, so I went early. I was there from 7:30-8:30 p.m., so if the party got going later on, I wasn't there to see it.

But I was able to test the system, and talk to Ben and some of his design team — including the curiously named Mat Poprocki. Yes, that's really his name. The first photo is Ben, the second one shows (from left to right) designers Mat Poprocki and David Hitchcock.

This was definitely worth an hour of my time, if only because the set-up was so swanky, and I got to play with something new. Although the "free drinks" were actually drink tickets redeemable at local bars. Too bad.

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They're not launching kluster until February 18 — this was actually the first time the system was live and open to the public for testing. "Pre-beta-testing" they said. And it's true — a few things didn't work, and I found a typo, but what I saw was still pretty cool.

They asked that I not say too much about how the system works since they're not going public for a week or so, but I can tell you that it's an application that enables group collaboration around ideas. "Anything better served by asking a group," says Ben.

Ben, by the way, is 21. He dropped out of Champlain College and is working on this full-time. He's got 12 people working with him — they got funding to develop this from outfits like Vermont's own Fresh Tracks Capital. In other words, they're exactly the type of business that we saw at Vermont 3.0 a couple weeks ago.

They were asked to take kluster to the TED conference (Technology, Entertainment, Design), which I've never heard of — possibly because I'm not "one of the 1000 most remarkable people in the world." The gathering takes place at the end of the month. According the the schedule, speakers include Al Gore, Amy Tan, Dave Eggers, Samantha Powers and oceanographer Robert Ballard — the guy who discovered the Titanic on the bottom of the Atlantic.

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The kluster crew will be there to use their collaboration tool to help these thinkers and doers share their collective wisdom. It'll be interesting to see what they come up with — if it takes off there and people actually use it. Good luck, guys!

You can still get a sneak preview tonight (Saturday) starting at 5 p.m. in the offices above Stone Soup and Bueno Y Sano on College Street in Burlington (the corner of College and S. Winooski Ave.).

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