In recent years, Nashville has developed a strong and growing tech community that has organized a wide-ranging series of meetups and events. One of the longest-running events, BarCamp Nashville, held its ninth annual unconference recently, featuring thought-provoking sessions and plenty of networking among different sectors of the ecosystem.
Clark Buckner, of podcasting agency Relationary Marketing, sat down with speakers, sponsors and other attendees at BarCamp and quickly encountered a passion for the local tech community that drives participation at these events. When he asked people what they liked about living and working in Nashville, the answers reflected varied aspects of a common refrain—Nashville is driven by an inclusive and collaborative mix of personalities and interests.
Describing her journey of becoming a developer Shruti said, “I’m coming from an academic world that somehow should be more inclusive, but the tech community beats it by leaps and bounds. I knew nothing about technology. I got into NSS. I started attending meetups. I started talking to people. I volunteered for BarCamp last year and Nodevember and Coder Faire. Anybody and everybody I met was so encouraging, was so supportive of my foray into technology. And for other people as well, not specifically to me, but just generally to newcomers.”
Max Stephens is a consultant with Claris Networks, an IT managed services provider across Tennessee. Max provided his insight into BarCamp and its role representing the unique technology community in Nashville saying, “I think Nashville is extremely different from other places. I think there is a level of empathy that exists inside Nashville that makes us who we are.”
Lindsey Cox is the innovation and commercialization manager at Launch Tennessee, a Heroic level sponsor at this year’s BarCamp event. Launch Tennessee is aimed at making the state one of the best places to start and grow a business from the ground up. As a member of the tech community in Nashville for the past six years, Lindsey has found the openness and inclusiveness of those working in the space to be one of the best parts of city. “I feel like that is what Nashville is all about. And I feel like that’s what our tech community is all about here, as well,” Lindsey said. “It doesn’t matter who you are or where you came from, what your background is, what you’re working on, we’re just happy you’re here and want you to be able to share in the experience with us.”
Launch Tennessee likes to welcome new neighbors with a personal delivery from Lindsey of cupcakes from the Cupcake Collection. Clark mentions his interview with Cupcake Collection founder Mignon Francois at the recent Girls to the Moon camperference for 8-14 year-old girls. That sense of neighborhood is integral to the culture and character that pulls people to Nashville and ties them to the community.
Kailey Faber is the Nashville director for TenantBase, a Heroic sponsor for this year’s BarCamp event. As manager of one of the first coworking spaces in Nashville, she has been on the front end of the growing technology community within the city. For Kailey, growth in office space has been a major player in enticing new technology development in the city and the neighborhood and building space that a company chooses are critical to establishing an identity. “It reflects a lot on your culture. As these Nashville neighborhoods grow—East Nashville, Germantown, 12South—all those are becoming very distinct in what they represent,” Kailey said.
Victoria Barner is the new business coordinator at Redpepper, the venue partner for this year’s BarCamp. She mentions that one of her favorite aspects of the Nashville tech community is the growth and connection that fuels events such as product meetups, conferences and smaller social gatherings to connect with local tech people. The close knit mentality is important to the continued growth of the creative class in Nashville and is, what she would call, one of the city’s best kept secrets. “The growth of the creative class here is definitely a key one. Just seeing everything from culinary endeavors to the marketing and advertising spectrum. Just seeing how that’s really blossomed; that comes with the growth of the tech community too. And then, also, Big Al’s biscuits,” Victoria said.
Daniel Green is manager of application development at Ingram Content Group and was a BarCamp first-timer this year. He says that he loves the “southern” tech perspective in Nashville that is represented at BarCamp. “Everybody is nice. They want to help you. Everyone’s approachable. I’ve got a guy that’s new to Ingram and new to town here that I just connected with another NSS grad today. He’s like, “Hey, I just need to sit down with somebody for thirty minutes. I’ve got these tests that aren’t passing and I need to talk to an engineer.’ And was just like, ‘Oh, yeah, man, let’s go take a look at it,’ Daniel said. “And that was totally cool. And I think that’s the best part about Nashville. It’s just that the community is so welcoming and so supportive of new engineers.”
Robert Dinwiddie is a senior technical recruiter for Ingram Content Group and Vital Source Technologies. Ingram is pushing to be more of a technology based company focused on digital content. Robert sees parallels in disruptions to the music and publishing industries and the benefit to partnering with the local tech community. “Just like [the music business] has changed and adapted, the publishing industry has changed and adapted. There’s a lot of smart people. Nashville was founded on the publishing industry, not just the music scene,” he said.
Zach Ford is sales team coordinator at MITech Partners, a telecom broker. As a first-time BarCamp participant, he was struck by the commitment and passion displayed by speakers and fellow attendees. Zach said, “My company helps startup companies and we believe in what we’re doing. So if everybody is out here creating, then it’s hard for anybody that comes to BarCamp to leave being stagnant.”
Tommy Norman is agile coach at LeanKit, a local Nashville technology startup and Worthy sponsor of BarCamp. Tommy was brought to LeanKit to help provide the learning required to move from a scrum background to a lean-based values company. He’s also the organizer of the local Agile user group and reflected on the number of user groups and meetups in the area saying “A lot of people are like, ‘There must be tons of open source in Nashville.’ There’s actually not, if you look. We’re a huge Microsoft town, but we have a very, very loud minority. And I don’t think they’re going to be a minority very long as those languages get more popular, but they’re doing stuff all the time. The NTC is doing stuff all the time. The Entrepreneur Center. All those guys are just… there’s event on top of event. And I always get mad when I miss one. I didn’t know that was going on. I wish I could’ve gone to that.”
Hear all of their stories and other interviews on the BarCamp Homegrown Podcast playlist where you can listen straight through or jump around to pick and choose specific interviews.
Look for the next locally-organized technology unconference in early April when Craft Content Nashville returns to encourage digital media practitioners to share ideas, engage with industry leaders and fellow community members and participate in discussions and demonstrations.
This episode was hosted by Clark Buckner. Special thanks to the BarCamp Nashville 2015 Planning Crew as well as members of the Relationary Marketing production team: Asher Morey, Jonathan Martz, Mara Hogan, Ryan Lewis, Toby Lyles and Chuck Bryant.