What does our local tech culture need?
Our guest blogger for today is Mike Subelsky, an organizer with Ignite (which David Troy just wrote about in a BaltTech guest post) and co-founder of OtherInbox.com. Chime in with your ideas on what the Baltimore tech scene needs to thrive.
Anyone who reads this blog knows that Baltimore has a vital and thriving technology culture. We have many good companies, events and organizations in town in various stages of growth, and it's a very creative time for starting new things. The activation energy for a new tech culture project is getting lower all the time!
This is my attempt to add fuel to the fire: a list of things our tech culture would use. I don't claim ownership or authorship of any of these ideas, and I really hope someone will see one of these and get it going. If you do you'll find a great deal of support and encouragement from the whole scene!
My original inspiration is a great blog post called Nine Tips to Building a Local Tech Culture. Fortunately we are already doing many of the things Steve Spalding lists in that post, but it's a good read nonetheless.
• Office hours with investors. We should create opportunities for local, regional and national investors to meet informally with entrepreneurs to hear pitches, provide feedback and generally get to know one another. For example, every startup in Baltimore and DC should band together and invite First Round to do an office hours in this area; their managing partner lives near us in Philadelphia.
• New product contests like http://3daystartup.com - not as a way to create companies (though that would be a nice side effect) but more as a way to introduce entrepreneurs and technologists and designers. It would also be a lot of fun, and it would get new entrepreneurs a way to quickly develop their ideas into prototypes.
• Baltimore technology podcast: how about a podcast dedicated to the local tech scene? Every couple of weeks you could interview some local awesome person about their new awesome project. Or you could do wrap-up reviews of content from Refresh, SocialDevCamp, Ignite, TEDx, etc.
• Talent exchange: I once lamented on my personal blog that there were more people in Baltimore with software company ideas than there were developers interested in working for equity. Someone commented with this great idea: "Maybe we need an exchange to meet up for the sole purpose of equity projects. Business types can pitch the programmers and alternatively, programmers can pitch the business types."
• Create something like Philadelphia's Founder Factory (http://www.founderfactory.com/about-the-factory/), an "an annual event created by Philly Startup Leaders, meant to help foster growth of an ecosystem of entrepreneurs, mentors, angels, VC’s, students, schools and government groups within the Philadelphia area. As a collaborative and engaging event, the Founder Factor helps to unleash Philadelphia’s entrepreneurial potential." I think Bootstrap Maryland is headed in this direction, but it would be nice to have some more high level support for such initiatives.
• Mentoring and investment incubators a la YCombinator and Capital Factory: a great way to attract new talent to Maryland and expose people locally to the startup life
• Tech culture portal portal: if you just moved here and wanted to find other companies building tech products, where would you go? We could use a Web site that highlights all the events, the companies, and the resources we have to offer.
• Demo days: The Beehive has "show and tell" day and I'd love to see that extended to the whole region. What if we got a whole bunch of tech companies that each got 5 minutes to show off their crown jewels? I think that would be pretty eye-opening.
• Breakfast events: there's a lot going on at night in our tech culture; how about doing things in the morning? I'd love to get a "software breakfast" going where developers could get together and show off their work, exchange war stories, etc.
This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location: baltimoresun.com/balttech