The Durango Tech clubs morning get-together started out simple enough with basic introductions and talk of a show-and-tell time. But when the discussion turned to bandwidth, HTML and mobile platforms, it became clear that this meeting was for tech heads.
The group started in November and meets every other Thursday over coffee or beer. Its open to anyone. The idea is to provide an informal way for people in the technology industry to get together, network, trade information and share ideas, said Jim Mackay, who founded the group with Walker Thompson, vice president of sales and marketing at WhenToManage and co-owner of the Rock Lounge.
What I really wanted this to end up being was people being able to lean on each other to make their businesses better and make their ideas stronger, Mackay said.
After seeing similar technology groups blossoming in Boulder and Denver, Mackay and Thompson decided to start the group in Durango.
Mackay said he hopes the group can help people find ways to make their technology career succeed in Durango.
I dont think well ever be a Boulder. We dont have the dynamics to make it happen, he said, but I do want to get us to the point where at least people can make a living in our industry here.
As it is now, almost everyone in the group works for a company based somewhere besides Durango, he said.
Todd Bartz, a designer with a digital marketing company based in Minneapolis, Minn., is one of those people.
Its nice to see what else is going on in the community and connect with like-minded individuals, Bartz said about the group. We talk about geek stuff.
The group is a way to keep updated on local business opportunities, he said.
I would love to stay in Durango, so I always have to have a plan B, he said.
The group also could be a stepping stone for entrepreneurs looking to formalize their ideas into a business, Mackay said.
With that goal, Durango Techs next meeting will be a cool stuff showcase where group members will be able to present a cool idea, product or company theyre trying to get off the ground and then get feedback from the rest of the group.
Adam Fries is one of the group members who plans to present his idea. A custom homebuilder by day, Fries is working on a technology idea to provide information to medical marijuana patients. He said the group is a valuable place to bounce his ideas off other people, especially because he doesnt have a technological background.
More than anything, it helps people bring their ideas together, Fries said.
The group has caught the attention of the Southwest Colorado Small Business Development Center as well, said Joe Keck, the centers director. The center can help provide both business advice and access to investors for the kinds of entrepreneurs in the technology group, he said.
When such businesses ideas succeed, the benefits tend to ripple across the community, he said.
One really good success can stimulate so many jobs, he said. Like a Mercury Payment Systems, the potential return to the community can be so much greater.