Rust Belt Rising … An Epic Quest To Build A Vibrant Tech Startup Scene In A Traditional, Conservative, Hard-core Rust Belt Town.
— by Blake Glenn
I’m back. After a months-long break of not writing anything, I’m getting back in gear. It happens. Sometimes we must step back and take a break. We have to refresh. So many things were going on I felt the need to deep-freeze the writing for a while. But I enjoyed the holiday season and I hope you did too. Although it seems to come and go so much faster now that I’m in my middle years. I know time doesn’t change. It’s our perception of it that does.
Then again … maybe that’s not true at all. I’ve been watching the rebooted X-Flies series. Strange and unbelievable cases those FBI agents try to solve. And now that I think about it, I have a strange theory. Maybe time IS actually accelerating. It seems like just yesterday I was on a college campus partying and working through an engineering program in Norfolk, VA. But maaaybeee … it really was yesterday. Maybe someone – or some thing – did something to me to make time accelerate several years in just a few hours.
I think my DNA-embedded neutronic positrons have been activated diametrically, which causes an acceleration of the time-space continuum on an individual basis. This was thought to be complete conjecture by the established scientific community, nothing more than voodoo science. But it’s the only plausible explanation. And that would certainly explain a lot indeed. It’s a good thing I have Mulder and Scully on speed dial.
In any case, since I’ve last written, a lot has happened in the business world that, as usual, I have some thoughts on. And I have a few more stories to tell too.
One of those stories is my decision to pull the plug on IgniteTech. IgniteTech was a group I launched on Meetup.com in 2013. It was an experiment to see if it was possible to create a viable, energetic, grass-roots driven tech startup scene in the Dayton, OH region. You see Dayton is a hard-core rustbelt town. It’s also a hard-core military town, with one of the largest U.S. Air Force bases located in the region. And the culture of these two influences is very strongly reflected in the regional institutions and the population. When I returned here a few years ago, there was no movement to build a grass-roots driven tech startup scene.
So is it possible to create a dynamic tech startup scene in Dayton?
That was the question I wondered as I launched IgniteTech. Well the short answer (or the short-term answer) is … no. It’s not possible, at least not right now. There simply doesn’t exist a strong concentration of past, current and potential founders that have the motivation, the will, to make that happen. There’s just very little energy focused on building a great tech startup scene. On top of that, there’s not a dynamic support system (existing institutions) that helps to foster such ideas.
And though the regional institutions also lack enthusiasm for creating a dynamic tech startup scene, the situation isn’t primarily their fault. Grassroots is about people making things happen for themselves. IgniteTech was about building a grassroots movement. And the people it was meant to help simply didn’t demonstrate a motivation to build something. But there is an upside. There actually are a very small handful of people (2 or 3 that I know of) working diligently to make something happen. And if their enthusiasm can recruit a few more people committed to the tech startup scene, maybe in a few years we’ll see some significant progress.
In my last “Rustbelt Rising” post last November, I wasn’t sure if anyone else would step into the fray to continue IgniteTech and take it to the next level. No one did. After I sent the farewell notice, four or five people responded with nice words. But not a single person even inquired about how to keep it going. That, in a nutshell, is the story of the current grassroots tech startup movement in Dayton.
Suffice it to say I’ll have a lot more to post about my IgniteTech (mis-)adventure in the near future. Check out this interesting short piece on what it takes to create a tech startup scene.
Now I’m off on a new set of adventures:
- Developing a business game show (live event)
- Exercising my speaking chops
- Launching a new business talk show
- And starting on a scripted web series
And hopefully by the next post I’ll have connected with Mulder and Scully to solve my time-acceleration issues.
Wish me luck.
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. I’m actively recruiting test contestants for my game show experiment. Interested? Please contact me so I can add you to the pool.