A quest to create a vibrant tech startup scene in a traditional, conservative, hard-core rust belt town.
— By Blake Glenn
You step out of your small wooden house on the prairie and look out over the bright sunny horizon. Off in the distance you can see a person sitting tall in the saddle on a big stallion. The horse with rider atop is galloping fast and furious, as if in a real damned hurry … headed straight toward you and your small town.
This is no accident. You knew the rider was headed your way. It was your request actually. You sent word that you wanted their presence in your town. It would be a great thing, you thought, to have the rider come to your humble abode. So you and a handful of other townsfolk have been anxiously awaiting their arrival. But you’re still a bit nervous. You’re just not so sure how the rider will be welcomed by your general community of neighbors.
Will the arrival be met with open arms and a key to the town?
Or, will the arrival get a tepid response that says the town isn’t quite ready yet?
Such is the anticipation as Startup Weekend heads to Dayton, OH for June 20th thru 22nd. A local programmer named Dave Best has pulled together a hard-working team to produce the first ever Startup Weekend for the local Dayton area. There have already been a few in the nearby markets of Columbus and Cincinnati. But this will be a new experience for Dayton.
In episode 106 of the Outside The Valley podcast show, I sit down with Dave to converse about Startup Weekend and its potential meaning for the Dayton area.
The burning question is really … how will Startup Weekend be received in Dayton?
This could be a pivotal moment in the region’s attempt to launch an energetic tech startup scene. In the last year to 18 months, a few activities have been bubbling up to jumpstart the community. They include happy hours, parties (well actually one large party), pitching sessions, co-working spaces, and other entrepreneurial gatherings.
And Startup Weekend could be the next step. If this event is sold out and filled by enthusiastic idea-machines, I think it does bode very well for the future prospects of the region. It’s a distance-marker. It would mean that at least there’s good potential for a sustainable grass-roots tech startup movement.
And if there’s a tepid response … it will not be due to the efforts of Dave Best and his team. They’re working hard to make this a success. It will likely mean that there is not, at the moment, enough of a concentration of idea-machines that are passionate and ready to take the next step.
And a tepid response will certainly not doom the regional tech community. It will just mean that the region isn’t where some people think it is. And it will surely say a hell-of-a-lot about our current state if such a popular national franchise as Startup Weekend doesn’t perform fairly decently here. It doesn’t have to be a big boom … just a decent turnout.
One thing’s for sure – long dead, and greatly admired, innovators like the Wright Brothers (Airplane – no not the movie!), Charles Kettering (Delco), and John Patterson (NCR) ain’t walking thru the doors … though their ghosts still seem to haunt the memories of many long-time current residents of the region.
The question is … What new founders, or potentials, will walk thru the doors on June 20th to help ignite a brand new slew of 21st century tech startups?
Guess that remains to be seen. And on June 23rd we’ll have a pretty damned good idea!
Blake Glenn shares his looney perspectives, stories, and mis-adventures in The Looney Executive blog. He has interviewed hundreds (or at least tens) of people via The Looney Executive Podcasts and former TV show. He’s the founder of a tech group called IgniteTech, and claims to be a direct descendant of the original Looney Executive – Because there must be SOME explanation … right?).
If you dare, he can be reached the old school way … blake@LooneyExecutive.com
P.S. – If you’re really interested in growing the tech startup scene in SW Ohio, you’ll want to join the IgniteTech Meetup Group.
Join the group. Come out to our events. Bring your energy and ideas.
Build your connections.
Join us on this adventure. And help us to create a great story!