TECH cocktail & CM3/I-94 Tech Community

The third TECH cocktail event happened in Chicago on 25 January 2007, with nearly 600 people participating in a casual networking event for "...bloggers, technology enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and other business professionals interested in the technology arena in Chicago..."

TECH cocktail was launched in May 2006 by two Chicago guys, Frank Gruber and Eric Olson, with the first TECH cocktail event happening in June 2006. They wanted to connect the entrepreneurial and tech community in the Chicago area and are thus far doing a great job providing events where interested people can gather and network. If you didn't make it to one of the first three TECH cocktail events, subscribe to the blog, keep an eye out for TECH cocktail 4 and show up in Chicago to meet some new people.

Because the Midwest US doesn't have a Silicon Valley or Silicon Alley, we need to work a little harder to create an innovation, technology and entrepreneur community with critical mass. Creating that critical mass and maintaining effective communication and collaboration in this region requires that a group of people passionate about building and sustaining the community work together, planning and implementing relevant events and projects.

TECH cocktails are one example of the needed community-building events. Similarly structured events in other midwest metro areas will go a long ways toward connecting people who will enjoy and get a lot out of this type of community.

There are some good reasons to develop a Midwest innovation, tech and entrepreneur community along I-94, connecting Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison and Minneapolis. The CM3/I-94 metro areas already have a good connection with the quarterly rotation of BarCamps in the four cities. The first Minneapolis BarCamp happened in the spring of 2006, followed by BarCampChicago in summer 2006, BarCampMilwaukee in fall 2006, and soon, BarCampMadison in winter 2007. Because I-94 connects these four cities, it's a relatively short trip to travel between any of the four.

Each of the CM3/I-94 cities has outstanding resources, companies, people and advantages. People in these cities have many common traits, goals and backgrounds, but they also have different ideas and approaches that will lead to innovations, new companies and new ideas when they work together and learn from each other.

Justin Kruger and I have enjoyed meeting and spending time with people from the tech communities in each of the four metro areas. We participated in BarCampChicago and a number of other Chicago area tech/innovation/entrepreneur events. We participated in BarCampMilwaukee, which Justin initiated after immensely enjoying BarCampChicago. Justin also launched Fireseed, Milwaukee's only casual think tank and a number of other Milwaukee area tech projects, with more to come. We will be participating in BarCampMadison on March 3 - 4, and hope to get involved with more events and projects in Madison. We had a great time at the Minneapolis MinneDemo in December 2006 and plan to participate in the next Minneapolis BarCamp in a few months. Another BarCamp opportunity for both Midwest people and for others around the country and around the world is BarCampUSA in August.

If you think connecting the CM3/I-94 metro areas sounds like a good idea, as well as a good time, join Justin and me, as well as others we haven't met yet who are doing the same thing. Keep an eye out for interesting events and projects in those areas. Blog about the events and projects. Participate in them. Make a conscious effort to connect with people in each of those four cities. And invite others to join in with you on your Quest.

It's not only a flat world, it's a flat Midwest. Contact me if you want to work together on this!



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