I grew up in Las Vegas and consider myself a STEM advocate and a workforce champion and actively promote careers in technology and building talent pipelines. Though I've started a few companies in my lifetime, I see myself as a newcomer to entrepreneurism. Currently, I'm the CEO of three organizations that I've either founded or co-founded. One of those organizations is Tech Alley, a non-profit with a mission to strengthen communities by bringing people together, fostering a creative class, and creating an inclusive, diverse, and innovative technology and startup culture. We accomplish our mission by hosting monthly events that bring the tech and startup communities together to share knowledge, networking, and welcome folks to the entrepreneur ecosystem. It has been quite the adventure!
The idea of Tech Alley came from my first meeting with Joseph Haecker, who I now consider a great friend. At the time, I was the director of a coding school in Las Vegas. To support the meetup community, I would happily open the campus for meetup groups to host their events. By doing this, the coding school gained a reputation as the local tech scene. One day, Joseph came by the campus looking to engage the scene. I told him about the meetups that got together throughout the month and that he was welcome to attend. Taken aback, he said that he was looking for a more active place to exchange ideas. And that was the moment that sparked the idea of creating a tech and startup scene in Las Vegas.
Tech Alley follows three principles, that the tech and startup community is inclusive, accessible, and consistent. These principles were inspired by Brad Feld's book Startup Communities. By sticking to these principles, Tech Alley events have become community led and void of competition and patriarchs. It's created an environment where information flows freely, making it possible for ideas to make it market. It has also created a unique opportunity for Tech Alley to be a leader in the community by introducing new technologies, motivations, and creatives ways to tackle challenges. Plus, Tech Alley events have inspired more activity within communities and momentum in the entrepreneur ecosystem.
The team that I have depended upon include mentors willing to take my call and share their insights, volunteers that dedicate time to promote the events and act as ambassadors that connect people to resources, meetup organizers and others that share knowledge with the community, and Tech Alley's board of directors. There is always so much to learn and mistakes to make that having a diverse of people available to point you in the right direction is invaluable and a treasure I happily share.
Though I like hearing success stories, it's learning about the troubles and failures in business that fascinate me the most. That's because starting a business is full of hills and valleys. From my experience, the crisis seems happens just when things start going right. Like many things, businesses have a lifecycle. Though Tech Alley is expanding to new areas, we're still trying to navigate the launch stage of the lifecycle. Increasing revenue has become a priority in order to support current and future events. There is also the need to start delegating operational responsibilities, which can be tough for founders (refer to the book E-Myth). Overall, I'd say we're still trying to figure things out! The organization is in a good position to help folks and fulfil our mission. We need to think smart, rely on our resources, stick to our principles, and bring communities together.
I continue to learn lessons, yet the biggest one that I learned is to be accountable to the business. That means, keeping up with responsibilities, OKR, financials, and so on. For all my businesses, I bring on advisors or boards to review the state of the business and discuss strategy. This means that every month I have the books in order and am ready to explain where we are in the market. It has been very valuable.
With Tech Alley, I am always looking for mentors. I often joke that I founded Tech Alley so that I had the opportunity to hang around and learn from entrepreneurs and other withing the tech and startup community. There is so much knowledge out there! We are currently in the middle of a sponsorship drive to raise funds for current and future events. As a 501c3, sponsorships and donations are tax deductible. Plus, the funds provide the opportunity for organizations and folks to be part of the mission to strengthen communities by bringing people together, fostering a creative class, and creating an inclusive, diverse, and innovative technology and startup culture. We are also looking for folks that would like to host Tech Alley events in the cities! We license out the Tech Alley model and support getting events started. We recognize that all communities are different in culture and needs. Which is why the Tech Alley licensing give tremendous flexibility to organizers so they can leverage Tech Alley events for their community. The big thing we require is that organizers stick to our principles, that events are inclusive, accessible, and consistent!
The best way to find out is by attending Tech Alley events! There are events in Las Vegas, Reno, and Denver. Folks can also follow us on: Instagram - @techalleyevents Website - www.techalley.org We will be starting a YouTube channel soon to share information about events and interesting topics within the ecosystems!