Well, Chattanooga Startup Week 2015 is over.
We laughed. We cried. We danced.
And now we move back into our normal lives.
Before we do, though, let’s recap and reflect on lessons we learned this week.
There’s more going on in Chattanooga than people realize.
There is significant buzz about Chattanooga’s startup scene, which is great. We truly have wonderful talent, particularly in the tech sector, and they are building the next big technology. From 3D printing to easy-to-use routers for parents to 10 gig internet to beacon technology, Chattanooga has mad tech skillz.
But we have more to offer than that, and Startup Week gave us a peek into that. Small businesses and entrepreneurs of all types are growing and thriving in Chattanooga. Startup Week highlighted talented young up-and-coming entrepreneurs from UTC during the Elevator Pitch contest. Startup Week also got the support of several local venues and restaurants. Clyde’s held an awesome Ping Pong tournament and Camp House housed events, including the Chattanooga Startup Awards. Mindy B’s even made a special sandwich to show its support for Startup Week. Throughout the week, we were reminded that it’s about more than just tech. Startup Week is about the people who live in Chattanooga and work to make it a great place to live, work and pursue your passions.
Diversity matters to Chattanooga.
A couple of events highlighted the importance of diversity in the Startup world and beyond. These events did a great job acknowledging gaps in opportunity and inclusion and inspired all who attended to be a part of the change. The truth is, actual innovation comes from diverse minds coming together to solve problems in new and better ways. People of all backgrounds need to be a part of the growth of Chattanooga if we want the improvements made to be lasting and enjoyed by all. So, let’s keep the discussions going, open them up to new audiences, and then transform that discussion into action.
We have homegrown talent.
Of course we want to attract amazing companies and talented people to Chattanooga. That will grow our economy, which is great for everyone. But we cannot forget the homegrown talent who already live and work here. Startup Week is an opportunity for these hometown talents to shine.
Each year it will get bigger and better.
We want even more local community members to get involved next year. Something that stood out to us is what Gary Vaynerchuk said during his speech about Chattanooga remaining Chattanooga even through all of the growth and hype. Chattanooga isn’t New York. It isn’t Silicon Valley. We are Chattanooga, y’all! We are smart, savvy and down-to-earth! At our core, we must stay true to what has always made Chattanooga special: our people, our beautiful surroundings and the community we create around those two things.
So, first, let’s take the energy generated during Startup Week 2015 to grow and improve our local community. Then, let’s make Startup Week 2016 even bigger and even more representative of all the different groups that make Chattanooga great. We can serve as a model for the country on how to do big things in a mid-sized city.