Monday, May 16, 2011

Catching the Buzz at MinneBar

I travel several times each year to the San Francisco Bay Area. When I’m there I often talk to Bay Area entrepreneurs, start-ups, investors, and other lawyers who work with start-ups. Each time I sense a tremendous amount of entrepreneurial energy. Techies are cranking out code from dawn ‘til dusk in local hangouts, entrepreneurs are pitching the next billion-dollar deal on every street corner, angel investors are pulling cash from their wallets and giving it to any startup with a sweet deck, and venture capitalists are elbowing each other to fund the next cool social commerce deal.

Well, maybe things in Silicon Valley aren’t quite the start-up nirvana that I’ve portrayed, but that’s the sense you get when you walk the streets of Palo Alto and Mountain View and talk to start-ups who have spent time in Silicon Valley. In fact, things have gotten so good in Silicon Valley lately that there are concerns about another tech bubble. Software developers and engineers are becoming difficult to find and very expensive, and office space is at a premium.

Recently, I caught a Silicon Valley-type buzz in the Twin Cities. I attended MinneBar. Attendance had more than doubled since I last attended a couple of years ago. In one of the day’s sessions, Jamie Thingelstad, local tech executive and uberpromoter of the local Minnesota tech scene, showed a simple bar graph of the event’s attendance rising from around 100 five years ago to more than 1,000 this year. That’s impressive.

MinneBar is an annual “(un)convention” of Minnesota techies. The goal of the annual event is to get members of Minnesota’s tech community together to share information and experience, meet each other, and even collaborate on projects. Participation and networking are the keys to the event. Throughout the day there were more than 60 sessions about software design and development, social media, hardware, start-ups, raising capital, and improving the Minnesota tech landscape. I caught the buzz.

Turning Minnesota into Silicon Valley North has been chattered about for years, but success has been slow. The reality is that Minnesota has a large and growing community of highly skilled techies ready and willing to innovate. The challenge to creating the buzz in Minnesota is to the rest of us. To me it comes down to leadership, success, and money. Members of the tech community and tech entrepreneurs need to promote tech and launch their start-ups here in Minnesota. This will generate a more robust and sustainable tech community and oodles of profitable tech companies. This success will lead to more money in the hands of technopreneurs, angels, and VCs, which will be used to fund the next batch of tech leaders. This circle of tech success needed a catalyst. Thanks MinneBar for providing the spark.

No comments :

Post a Comment