Yesterday after we got Equity done Liza and I drove across the Providence River to a neat tech event. It was the first such happening that I’ve actually been in town for, so we went over in good spirits to check out what the local tech crew had cooked up.
Providence isn’t a major technology hub. But it does sit in between two key tech markets (Boston and New York), has a raft of great universities, lovely quality of life, an affordability factor off the charts compared to San Francisco and a lot of local folks determined to see its technology community grow.
That’s a good recipe.
Enter the shindig. Held at the District Hall, a newly-opened public space inside the also-new CIC Providence (part of the larger CIC network), Venture Cafe hosted a gathering that brought together local startups, a speaker, drinks, and what appeared to be a few hundred individuals from the Providence tech scene.
It was good fun. Liza and I listened to Rich Miner (Android, GV) talk about building startup communities, we got to see Ryan, fist-bump Adam (whose app Crunchbase News has written about ), and also meet some of the Splitwise team. (Splitwise is an app that helps friends split expenses intelligently. It has raised a little over $10 million and is proof that you can build successful tech startups in Rhode Island.)
I wanted to mention the event because it was good and fun and encouraging. I grew up in small-yet-growing tech hubs. My first real jobs in tech were in Portland, Oregon, and I became an adult in Chicago’s own tech market. I was in The Big Cold when Uber first showed up (I met Leena at that launch dinner, which put me on the course to work at TechCrunch later and thus my current job), when Groupon was blowing up, and was lucky enough to watch Sprout Social go from brand-new project to something with dozens and dozens of employees (Liza and I went to a Sprout get together back in the day, I now recall; we got to drink with Justyn in the sun. Good times.)
Providence is a city that has surprised me. I thought that I wasn’t going to like it. Not the weather, not the people, not the tech scene. In every category I’ve been wrong. Providence is a delight.
And lucky for me I seem to have shown up when the local tech community is doing perhaps its best yet:
(And if you are a tech or venture person in PVD, hit me up on Twitter or via email. Hi!)