Tech Month Chicago 2016: Humble Beginnings, Big Plans

Tech Month Chicago started out as an idea, and in June 2016 we realized that idea in the first month ever in the city of Chicago to honor our diverse technology culture and ecosystem while sharing it with all Chicagoans.

To put in perspective how we feel about accomplishing our launch, in the beginning, when we first started, it felt like a small child throwing stones at a large tank, like in the picture shown here.

Boy with tank

Why did if it feel that way, you ask? The tank in the photo, to us, represents all of the obstacles and challenges we faced and problems we wanted to solve. Those problems include lack of diversity in the tech industry and the tech industry’s lack of advocacy and outreach to the public. On a local level we also wanted to provide a solution for what we view as draining Chicago politics that consolidate prestige and power into a few select venues downtown resulting in exclusion of aspiring technology entrepreneurs and tech venues in other neighborhoods.

Despite these overwhelming problems, we had passion, courage, and conviction, like the little boy throwing stones at the tank. We felt we had to take action, and to us, trying was better than doing nothing. It was not always easy. People ignored us.People called us up to ask why we needed to exist, while still others arrogantly asked us what our “value prop” was. In case you had to ask, the status quo in tech is alive and well in Chicago. We had the courage to try to put a dent in it.

Lots of boys with tank

What gave us our courage? The community. There was an outpouring of support from grassroots tech event coordinators around the city who all listed their events on our calendar. As well, ten tech and business venues donated their spaces for free to people who wanted to hold events for Tech Month Chicago in June. In a strong show of solidarity unseen before in the Chicago tech industry, over 100 event coordinators and venues, all of whom normally operate independently, came together for one month and supported our platform to help Chicago learn about technology. We all found courage to step up and make real change because suddenly we weren’t alone anymore.

We are proud of everyone who participated in Tech Month Chicago this year and look forward to doing even more next year. Our proudest moments were the tech companies who presented seminars to segments of the public, members of the tech community who had the opportunity to step up and give a presentation for the first time, industry focused events that opened themselves up to curious non-techies, the events that helped children, and events that helped the economically challenged. We’ll write more about these in the months to come. We are so grateful to all of the organizations and venues who participated this year, we are in the process of creating a whole section of our website dedicated to them. Be on the look out for that in the weeks ahead.

Thanks for reading!

Sincerely,

Melanie Adcock, President of Tech Month Chicago

This is intended to be a community platform, so how do you feel about the state of Chicago’s tech industry? E-mail us at info@techmonthchicago.com. Let us know, and we might feature you in a future blog post!

The photos in this blog post were digitally altered to remove any reference to any particular nationality, belief system, or conflict. Our intention with using this image is to illustrate a more general metaphor of helplessness when one endeavors to solve an overwhelming problem. Also if anyone gets inspired to throw rocks at military vehicles from reading this blog post, please don’t because we’re sure it’s probably illegal. 🙂