This month, our Partner Spotlight highlights techfrederick - a local non-profit focused on fostering Frederick’s rapidly growing high tech community … and ensuring there is fun to be had along the way.
We spoke to Vaughn Thurman, a founding board member of techfrederick, to learn more about the organization, and the resources available to businesses in Frederick.
The point of all of this is to make Frederick a first choice on the national level for starting or growing a tech business. Or more simply put “techfrederick is about ‘More Tech in Frederick’.” - Vaughn Thurman
techfrederick exists to identify, highlight, support, foster awareness of, advocate for, and develop Frederick’s growing high tech community through community education and human resource development, entrepreneurship training programs and seminars, and related events.
Our top priorities are to identify, highlight, foster, and develop Human Resources to support growth of local tech companies, Infrastructure Resources (ample broadband, trusted vendors, etc), and Capital Resources for growing tech companies.
We are going to continue to focus on providing our tech community with opportunities to network and collaborate with each other, as well as, expand our offering of training opportunities through the EARN grant.
We’ve got something really great here with this community. The enthusiasm is palatable! And our efforts to connect, build, support and grow Frederick’s tech community are only going to expand in 2019. - Amy Pontius, Operations Coordinator
How it ALL started:
Much to their credit, The City of Frederick’s Office of Economic Development, and their peers in Frederick County, made numerous efforts to get the leaders of the tech community together under a banner called TechFrederick. Truly, they started this. There were some regular advisory board meetings, and some networking events, but they were struggling to take off.
I think a catalyst moment was when Nick Damoulakis (CEO of Orases Inc and a founding board member) agreed to act as a fiscal agent to help our fledgling team win a state grant to provide training services to help grow the tech talent pool. It took on a more serious tone at that point. There were a handful of tech leaders who had continued to engage more consistently and we decided that the next step we needed to take, if we really wanted to see this community grow, was to officially break out from under the wing of our government founders and create a true industry led 501c3 non-profit that we could work to fund, and thereby use as a platform for growing our industry in this uniquely wonderful part of the world.
Nick, Scott Ryser (CEO of Yakabod), and myself were the three who ultimately took up the mantle and filed with the state and the IRS first to create a true standalone corporation and then to gain nonprofit status. It’s been a handful to manage ( as we all have “day jobs” ), but we have had a lot of support from within our companies and the community at large.
People see what we are doing and want to get behind it, and that’s exciting and humbling at the same time. The three of us have always believed that Frederick deserves to be a national competitor, but to see it coming to be is still quite exciting. - Vaughn Thurman
We officially re-launched the advisory board in 2017 and quickly formed a round-table of industry leaders and solid local advisors, including representatives from our partners in local government. From that point, the progress has really taken off.
We’ve committed to rotating new leaders in and through our advisory board and from there to our board. That’s something I think is special as well. This isn’t about Scott, or Nick, or myself. We’re just the fortunate ones who got to help launch this. It’s about the community. They’ve always been the focus, and they will be the drivers as we continue to grow and succeed.
ASPIRE Training Initiative:
The mission of the ASPIRE training initiative is to recruit and retain top talent IT professionals in Frederick. Our training, funded by the EARN Grant through the State of Maryland, has trained over 150 IT professionals to-date. Participants learn new skills that contribute to raises, and in some circumstances, new job titles. In 2019 ASPIRE is launching new training opportunities including AWS, Photoshop, SQLskills Performance Tuning and Optimization and Agile Project Management Training.
What’s Up next?:
techfrederick just wrapped up its hugely successful Third Annual techfrederick Games on October 5th. Bringing over 200 tech professionals from the area together for a day of olympic-style games, techfrederick holds the Games every year to build community and comradery through fun, friendly competition. You can check out all the fun at https://techfrederick.org/techfrederick-games/
Additionally, techfrederick will officially launch its Membership Program in January 2019, offering participation to Frederick’s tech community at both an individual and company level. Stay tuned to www.techfrederick.org for more information.
Finally, techfrederick holds Quarterly Informative Networking Breakfasts and Quarterly Evening Networking Events. Our next Quarterly Breakfast is on October 18th at the Delaplaine. It is open to those in the tech industry, or anyone looking for a job in tech. Our next Quarterly Evening Networking Event will be held on December 12th.
Go to www.techfrederick.org for more information and to register for these events.
Connect with techfrederick:
Address: 118 N. Market Street, Suite 303, Frederick, MD