Jesse Learmonth, founder of Bet Smart Media, realized three years ago that many of the business conferences held in Victoria were geared toward established technology companies.
Frustrated at the lack of forum for younger companies like his own, Learmonth started a group on Meetup.com targeting technology entrepreneurs and tech businesses that were still working small and looking to expand. “I wanted to create something that gives us a chance to get together without any agenda or membership fees,” explains Learmonth. “A way to meet people like myself.”
Last Tuesday, saw Learmonth meeting and greeting approximately 85 like-minded guests at the “September Meetup,” held at the Victoria technology association’s accelerator offices. The group was celebrating its one year anniversary that has seen attendance numbers rise from 20 to 85. The growing popularity of the event is evidence to Jesse and his event co-coordinators that this type of forum is of particular importance to supporting the early stage ventures of Victoria’s now booming technology ecosystem.
One of the guests, Leif Baradoy, cofounder of Kiind, explained that it’s “a great place to meet cool people and learn about new companies.” Baradoy even admits, “I met my business partner here.”
Baradoy went on to explain that “creating a community creates softer landings for all of us”. Many other guests agreed. Misha Roberts suggested that it is also an opportunity to make strategic alliances – “otherwise, how do I meet people?”
“Government towns like Victoria can become sleepy, so it’s cool to have people come together and get motivated,” Meetup guest Stewart Randell pointed out. “Jesse always has beer, great speakers and a chance for people to talk and make connections.” While September’s guest speaker was required to remain anonymous, many guests affirmed that Jesse always brings in interesting speakers, usually local Victoria businesspeople who have made it big.
“Historically there hasn’t been an opportunity like this in Victoria,” Learmonth proudly affirms. As a result he strives to keep the group open to anyone starting out in the technology industry.
The group can be found on Meetup.com under Technology Startups in Victoria. Learmonth encourages anyone interested to join the group and RSVP to the next event.
“We have people at the idea stage, straight through to entrepreneur’s who have had successful exits,” notes Jesse. Event nights are held approximately once a month.