Visually, it looked like any other modern gathering. People stood around chatting and drinking beer, often engrossed in their smartphone screens. Such digital preoccupation would be a social faux pas in some situations, but it was encouraged at Tuesday’s Startup Expo, one of about half a dozen events around the Sacramento region celebrating Global Entrepreneurship Week.
The weeklong events aim to celebrate and encourage innovators and job creators across the globe, with 140 countries participating. Several Sacramento organizations joined the effort, including Health 2.0 Sacramento, Hacker Lab, Sacramento Social Media Club and the Sacramento Area Regional Technology Alliance (SARTA).
Startup Expo aimed to do just that. Attendees were encouraged to bring beer on the condition that they doled it out to someone they didn’t already know. After a period of mingling, local application developers were given two minutes to introduce the audience to their application.
“We can be more than a sleepy government town,” said Bryan Barton, who organized the event. “There are a lot of different app companies in Sacramento. This is a way to introduce them to each other.”
Attendees were encouraged to download the app, take it for a spin and review it. While tools creating applications are easy to acquire, breaking through the crowded app marketplace is a challenge.
“You could write the best app in the world, but if nobody notices and downloads it, it won’t matter,” Barton said.
While Startup Expo used beer to loosen up innovators at one centralized location, SARTA’s Entrepreneurship Week takes the Beer and Geeks party to five different networking events Thursday evening around the region: Pour House in Sacramento; deVere’s in Davis; The Fat Rabbit Public House in Folsom; The Monk’s Cellar in Roseville; and Ol’ Republic Brewery in Nevada City. Each of the events is set for 6 p.m. until 8 p.m.
SARTA’s new Executive Director Kirk Uhler said the events and energy help break the region’s “government culture mindset.”
“We have to break through this government town mindset and get us into the mindset of celebrating risk-takers,” Uhler said.
Uhler said entrepreneurs also need access to talent, mentors and capital. He hinted at SARTA taking a more direct role in helping startups find funding.
While it doesn’t have a special Global Entrepreneurship Week event, Velocity Venture Capitol in Folsom is heavily engaged in assisting young companies through its Entrepreneurs Showcase. On Dec. 5, the 15 companies that went through the organization’s 10-week incubation program will pitch venture capital investors seeking the funds that would turn them into job creators.
Jack Crawford, the managing partner of Velocity Venture Capital, said events like Startup Expo, as well as activities at Velocity’s Entrepreneurs Campus, help focus entrepreneurial activity, which needs a balance of startups, access to angel investors and an understanding of what types of innovation are likely to be acquired by existing technology players.
Valerie Spake, who works locally in public relations, may have found her second career as a techie/inventor.
After a weekend grinding as a participant in a three-day hackathon, she attended Startup Expo with pep in her step. Her nephew, who is active in the creative tech community, encouraged her to attend the hackathon – in which teams are formed to bang out an idea – rather than trying to funnel her good ideas through him. She said she pitched her idea at the hackathon, which was held at The Urban Hive co-working space, but ended up joining the winning team. She emerged empowered to keep pushing her ideas.
“I don’t want to be one of those old ladies who say ‘I had this idea,’ ” Speake said.
“I feel I found a community,” said Speake. “It’s just great to have that outlet. It’s great to come to a place and meet other creatives and share ideas.”
Call The Bee’s Ed Fletcher, (916) 321-1269. Follow him on Twitter @NewsFletch.
Entrepreneurship Week events
When: Nov. 20, 6-8 p.m.
What: Beer and Geeks
Where: Pour House, 1910 Q St., Sacramento; deVere’s, 217 E St., Davis; The Fat Rabbit Public House, 825 Sutter St., Folsom; The Monk’s Cellar, 240 Veron St., Roseville; Ol’ Republic Brewery, 124 Argall Way, Nevada City
When: Nov. 21, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.,
What: Hacker Lab Gigabit Celebration
Where: Hacker Lab, 1715 I St.
When: Nov. 21, 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m.
What: Intel Internet of Things Incubator Launch Party
Where: Hacker Lab, 1715 I St.
Sampling of Sacramento developed apps
What it does: Users can request a bargain at their favorite restaurant during off-peak hours
What it does: A new way to see and enjoy reading materials
What it does: Allows people to connect prior to travel or special events