Kevin Berry is the technical crew chief of Racenote, a local startup that specializes in motorsports data collection and analysis. He is currently an organizer for the Omaha Mobile Group meetup and is helping co-organize the Tech Omaha event at Big Omaha this coming Thursday with Do Space Executive Director, Rebecca Stavick.
This week we caught up with Kevin at the coworking space in The Exchange building, and Rebecca over email, to chat about Tech Omaha, Big Omaha, and the local tech community.
AIM: What is Tech Omaha?
KB: TechOmaha.com has been around for a few years now. It started as a project by Ryan Stille who wanted to have a consolidated calendar of all the tech events and meetups that were happening in the Omaha area.
He also wanted to give people an idea of what was happening at these meetups, so he lends out video equipment to the different meetup groups so they can record what goes on and publish it on the site, in hopes of drawing in more people to the events.
AIM: How did Tech Omaha start?
KB: About 15 to 20 of us used to get together for a holiday party every year. We thought it would be so much better if we could get more members of the tech community involved.
So, we started throwing two parties every year, one around Big Omaha and the other around the holidays, and they just started to get bigger and bigger. We’re expecting about 400 to 500 people to be at Thursday’s party.
AIM: What’s the goal of Tech Omaha?
RS: Developers and technologists are highly inquisitive by nature, and we need opportunities to learn and take our skills to the next level. Organically, we’ve developed dozens of grassroots tech user groups in town to promote professional development by teaching each other and learning together.
Tech Omaha is all about pulling together resources to support local tech groups, support professional development for technologists, and scaling up our capacity to produce quality networking events like our Big Omaha party to grow and strengthen the Omaha tech community.
AIM: What can people expect to see at the Tech Omaha event this year?
KB: It’s really just a great opportunity to network with members in the tech community. We have free food and drinks until the tab runs out, thanks to our generous sponsors. PB Johnny’s is coming out, so there will heavy horderves. We also have a lot of great technical-oriented door prizes like Raspberry Pis and some Amazon Echos, things like that.
AIM: Why did you choose to partner with Big Omaha?
KB: This is the first year we are partnering with Big Omaha. In the past we would have an opening party before Big Omaha’s opening party just because we had friends that were coming in for the conference and we wanted them to see our community. One of our main goals is to increase networking and community spirit among the tech community, and Big Omaha helps us do that.
AIM: Where do you see Tech Omaha going in the next year?
KB: So the big thing we are working on is to become non-profit status. That way we can provide more resources to the meetup groups and more opportunities for our sponsors to get involved.
We really want to put some formal processes behind these meetup groups. Whether that means offering them a place to meet, or helping them with funding— We just want to help build meetup groups that last.
We also want to build a consolidated, single place for people to go when they are looking to get into the local tech community. We want to make TechOmaha.com sort of a one-stop shop so that they can see videos of the meetups, the schedule, etc.
AIM: What’s the importance of Tech Omaha for the Omaha community?
KB: We’re really just here to be a facilitator. The best thing we can do is to help this tech community break out of its silos.
Even the people that do get out into the community usually hang out in their own groups. You’ll see the .NET people hang out with .NET people, and the corporate developers usually hang out with other corporate developers. We’re hoping to break that down and help the community grow.
RS: Tech Omaha will enable the Omaha tech community to grow and strengthen by providing resources for local tech groups to better organize and promote the amazing things they’re doing in the community. We care about the future of this city, and we believe a strong tech community will help Omaha continue to innovate and move forward.
Did you miss out on buying tickets for Big Omaha? No worries, the conference will be streaming live Thursday and Friday thanks to the Kauffman Foundation. Check it out on BigOmaha.co/live!
Brilliant People of Omaha: A series of discovery.
Welcome to Brilliant People of Omaha. In this series we will sit down with local brilliant individuals who love their jobs, have excellent career advice and are ready to share their story about how they came into their current position.
We will talk to a variety of people in this series including: developers, designers, managers, CEOs, interns, etc. Everyone has a story, and we are here to uncover it and see what we can learn from the brilliant people around us.
Do you have someone you’d like to nominate as a brilliant person of Omaha? Drop Melanie Lucks a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you.
Tech Omaha is made possible thanks to generous sponsors like Agape Red, AIM Institute, HDC and Nebraska.Code. The Tech Omaha event on Thursday evening is free for all Big Omaha attendees; however, you must register here.