It Takes a Village to GROW and Nurture Innovation

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GROWSince landing in LA five years ago I’ve had countless conversations around what it takes to build a tech scene. It’s not often that one gets to see a community emerge from the ground up, but it’s happening more and more in smaller cities across the U.S. and around the world.

Why, you ask?

Some say it’s sparked by economic downturns. Or having the best computer science grads. Others still focus on the right balance of angel and venture investment paired with accelerators to nurture the startups. Then there are the professional service providers, the coworking spaces, and the networking events that tie everyone together.

I say it takes a village. Let me explain.

All of the stakeholders mentioned above play a role in creating a technology ecosystem. In LA’s case, numerous individuals and businesses laid the foundation that has helped our community grow and thrive.

People like Mike Macadaan, who came down from San Francisco to throw professionally-produced Twiistup events showcasing our budding startups and Francisco Dao who turned them into full-blown conferences.

Communications professionals like Nicole Jordan who tirelessly beat the drum for LA and convinced individuals like myself and Paige Craig to relocate here at a time when nobody would take it seriously. I joined forces with Efren Toscano to build TechZulu, and Craig became a prolific angel investor and community champion.

People like Peter Pham and Mike Jones who convinced Debbie Landa to throw monthly Dealmaker LA events, and Manatt, Phelps & Phillips and Clearstone Venture Partners for generously hosting them. Pham and Jones went on to create SCIENCE with Macadaan, and Landa was inspired to show how innovation can happen anywhere.

That’s right. Innovation hubs can happen outside of Silicon Valley, as evidenced by the emerging tech centers appearing in places like Chattanooga, TN; Chandler, AZ; New Orleans, LA; and Wilmington, NC. And their growth is inextricably tied to the strength of their community; their village.

This year, to celebrate the underdogs, the up-and-coming communities, the outsiders working their way in – everything and everyone that TechZulu stands for – we’re partnering with Debbie Landa on the GROW conference in Vancouver. It’s happening this August 14-16, and trust me – it’s an event you don’t want to miss.

Around 1,200 industry players are expected to attend, including 30+ of Silicon Valley’s top investment firms, and the confirmed speaker list reads like a Forbes’ Who’s Who.

TechZulu is gathering an LA crew for Geeks on Rails, the official GROW party train going from Portland, Oregon to Vancouver. It will be prepped with WiFi, food, drinks, and of course over 150 geeks from across the country. Many of the event speakers will be on board as well.

To give you a taste of what to expect, passenger’s on last year’s train included Cheezburger’s  Ben Huh;  Dave McClure of 500 Startups; Scott Kveton, CEO of Urban Airship, and Redg Snodgrass of Stained Glass Labs.

So who’s on board? Email me for the hookup and don’t forget to register for the GROW conference here. We’ll be  bringing you more updates and exclusive content as we get closer to the event.

See you in Vancouver!

Amanda Coolong

Amanda Coolong is Executive Editor and host of

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