Top Tech Events of Summer 2019

September 9, 2019

Cityscape of Downtown Indianapolis looking over the Indianapolis Canal

What a great Summer! These past few months have been great for professional and personal growth. Coming into the season of Summer 2019, I gave myself three specific goals:

  • Become more involved with the Indy Tech community
  • Learn new skills
  • Learn business practices

With the change of seasons, taking time to reflect on all that’s been achieved has become a ritual. In addition to guest-speaking at two tech events, I was able to attend 11 additional events over the past three months. Of the attended events, my personal favorites include a hands-on workshop with Indy Design Week, Kenzie Academy’s Innovation Series, and the Innopower Conference. 

Indy Design Week

This Summer began by attending some events that were apart of Indy Design Week. The Sketchnoting Workshop, which was led by Teddy Lu, was particularly enjoyable. Sketchnoting is the practice of combining text, pictures and symbols in place of traditional word-for-word note taking. The workshop aimed to make use find and focus on key ideas and phrases, so that we can quickly take notes and better retain the information. The workshop focused on sketching fundamentals, brainstorming, and rapid iterations. 

Board showcasing sketchnoting art

The sketchnoting workshop was enjoyable because it made me conceptualize content in a straight-forward manner. Thanks to additional practice, sketchnoting has become an enjoyable alternative to traditional note-taking.

Kenzie Academy Innovation Series

Two men and a woman sitting on stage laughing

Another enjoyable event was the Summer Innovation Series hosted by Kenzie Academy. This series featured guest speakers Eric Bahn, Venture Capitalist and CEO of Hustle Fund as well as Jeff Hoffman, entrepreneur and founder of priceline.com. Eric and Jeff were very inspirational speakers. The presentation was a panel discussion, so I had the privilege of hearing both guests offer their best advice and life experiences. A few key takeaways included how to meet people in the tech industry and how to create the ideal career path.

The whole panel discussion was inspirational. A few things that spoke out to me were the words of both Eric and Jeff. Eric Bahn spoke about the importance of building relationships. A key to his success involved planning at least one coffee date per week with a tech professional. Doing so allowed him to meet new people, gain different perspectives and keep in touch for future networking. 

Jeff Hoffman took his talk down a slightly different route. He spoke on the importance of finding a personal “why”. Along with that, he spoke on career success and how personal satisfaction plays a major role. One thing that will stay with me, is how Jeff believes that a good job and salary do not make a good life. He encouraged everyone in the room to reflect on what brings them joy, followed by thinking about current strengths within, and outside of, our current job positions. Jeff’s inspiration came from an old friend who was a daredevil and free-soloing rock climber. When asking his friend why he continued to complete dangerous climbs over and over again, his friend then replied that he would rather spend 40 years living his best life, than spend 90 years living the way everyone else is.

This can ring true in many disciplines outside of climbing, because one thing is certain: in 99% of instances, the best way is not one size fits all- it is whichever way works best for that individual.

It is safe to say that the Summer Innovation Series left everyone in the room feeling motivated to continue our paths with no limitations or self-doubt. Since the series, I have both increased my amount of coffee dates with tech professionals (many of whom have become friends and mentors) and have learned new technical skills to further my professional knowledge. I’ve also taken up some hobbies that have the potential to be applicable to my professional life, such as blogging and podcasting. Hearing Eric Bach and Jeff Hoffman speak this summer was truly a game-changer for my professional development.

Innopower Conference

Probably my favorite event of the summer was the two-day Innopower Conference. The goal of Innopwer is to create inclusive innovation ecosystems in Indiana. This conference was the largest space for people of color in tech that I have ever been apart of and it was great to experience! There were many influential speakers and panel talks taking place as well as a number of breakout sessions to choose from. My favorites included a breakout seminar entitled “Purpose Driven Business” as well as a panel discussion, “Her Business is Our Business with The Startup Ladies”.

The business model canvas is a tool to help learn about target audiences served and the value that a business could bring to them.  (source: The Strategy Group)

Purpose Driven Business was led by NaShara Mitchell and was great for learning general business practices.  Her motto is: “profit isn’t a purpose, it’s a result”. As someone who hopes to own/run a mission-driven company one day, this was promising to hear.

A significant learning process NaShara showed to us was the business model canvas. The business model canvas is a tool to help learn about target audiences served and the value that a business could bring to them. Another benefit of this seminar was that it reinforced the belief that in 2019, every company is a tech company. Products will only go as far as technology will allow them.As tech professionals, not only do we strive to create products that are current, scalable and cutting-edge, we aim to create tools to help businesses compete on a global scale.

Four smiling women sitting on stage in a line.

Another favorite of Innopower was the panel hosted by The Startup Ladies. During this, attendees were able to hear from four women all running their own startups. The discussion was full of the trials they faced, along with their successes along the way. One fact that I found interesting and alarming, was that female founders accounted for 2.9% of all venture capital funding in 2018. While we have made strides in equality for entrepreneurship and VC funding, the push for equity is far from over. Hearing women of The Startup Ladies speak about their journeys highlights the amount of skill, confidence and self-determination needed to run a successful company. 

The Innopower Conference was definitely the highlight of my summer tech events. With it being its inaugural year, I look forward to attending this event for many summers to come. 

Fall 2019

This Summer has been a whirlwind of opportunities for personal and professional growth. By immersing fully into the Indianapolis tech community, I was able to further my skills in tech, public speaking and networking while also learning the basics of business success. This Fall, I hope to continue the journey. Goals include:

  • Learning more about business practices and how they apply to tech
  • Learning UX specific technologies
  • Guest speaking at one tech talk 
  • Attending one tech conference

Fall 2019 has plenty in store. If anything like the summer, it will be time well-spent. Goodbye Summer 2019, welcome Fall 2019 and all that you have to offer!