Recently, I was in the Bay Area for a series of meetings with startups and investors. During one conversation with an investor while discussing Knoxville and its future, he made a very compelling statement. He said, “ How is the computer science scene in your area? It is the cornerstone of the entire startup community in San Francisco”.
I thought about what he said for a few minutes, and I was glad I had a good answer. To say the coding community in Knoxville is one of our best assets would qualify as the understatement of the year. Already this year at KEC we’ve hosted the B-Sides conference (which sold out) and a series of “Breakout Sessions” in partnership with Codestock, which were very well attended quarterly events.
Last weekend here at KEC, we were able to pull off our first ever hackathon, and over 25 coders and designers went to bat for our 9 MediaWorks teams and they each walked out after 48 intense hours with a prototype of their ideas.
In short: 2 days + 25 developers= 9 products. Think about it for a second. This is insane. This is the speed, intensity, and talent needed to drive innovation in the area. More on this in a second.
I attended my first Codestock conference last year. 400 people from all over the country came to Knoxville to learn more about their craft. Afterwards, I approached Michael Neel (the original founder) about getting more involved. He quickly brought in Arlene Gray and the rest of the Codestock board to start talking about what is possible .
Fast forward 1 year and Codestock just sold its 900th ticket. Its focus is engineering and entrepreneurship this year. I’d tell you to come, but it’s sold out. That’s how much talent we have in the area. If you are an entrepreneur with a software idea, i’d go down there and beg for a partner. It’s the only way to succeed.
If you are coder with an idea….come see me.
Software is eating the world, and with the growth of the local development and coding community, I think Knoxville needs to have a BIG appetite.