We wanted to give you an overview of what we (Keith Instone & Stuart Bertsch) do as “Tech Toledo” to help connect the tech and entrepreneur communities in the region.
When we spot tech, design and entrepreneur events on meetup.com, Facebook, in a local paper, and anywhere else, we see if they are already listed on ToledoTechEvents.org. Usually they are not listed, so we add them. We let the event organizers know that we have added them to the community calendar and encourage them to do it themselves next time.
We promote community events and activities via our social media channels. Sometimes we tweet about an upcoming event more than the organizers do. We attend as many events as we can (even when we are not that interested in the topic) to learn about possible connections. We do not organize many things ourselves, but the Geek Dinner Holiday Mixer is one that we still do since it is central to our mission.
When a new meet-up or other group pops up, we attend to welcome them to the community and let them know what else is going on. Recent example: Northwest Ohio AWS and Big Data Mixologists. We try to keep the various group leaders aware of each other and suggest different ways for them to collaborate. Recent example: The Nerd Summit tour of The BiG Fab Lab. Some groups are collaborating on their own now, without our prodding. Upcoming example: TWP family picnic.
We look for organizations that are not connected and meet with them. We learn more about what they are about, they learn what else is going on. They usually are excited to start sharing what they are doing more broadly and they usually start showing up at other organization’s events. Recent example: Toledo-Lucas County Public Library Business Center.
For the larger, more strategic activities, we contribute our time on an ongoing basis to help it be successful. We require others to take the lead and “Tech Toledo” helps out quietly in the background. Examples: Toledo Startup Weekend, CoderDojo Toledo.
We visit other regions around the country to learn how they are connecting their tech and entrepreneur communities. We regularly participate in events in nearby regions, like Ann Arbor (e.g., Ann Arbor Tech Trek) and Cleveland (e.g., Startup Scaleup). We bring knowledge back and sometimes we can help a colleague in the Toledo region make an important connection to a mentor or someone else to further their business.
When they ask nicely, we assist the tech-entrepreneurial “institutions” in the region. Recent examples: Helping LaunchPad Incubation at UT, giving input into Rocket Ventures Asset Map.
We are just two volunteers who want to help as much as we can in our spare time. It is fun and rewarding, so we will keep on doing it. Thanks to everyone who has helped us out over the years.