In March 2013, a couple of us had an idea. Holden Bonwit and I were talking about how most of the startup events in LA are in Santa Monica. The fact is, while there is a vibrant startup community in Pasadena, as everyone knows, LA traffic is horrible, and most of us can't make the trek from Pasadena to Santa Monica by 6PM on a weeknight. This conversation sparked an idea: If we want more startup events in Pasadena, wouldn't others?
We decided to invite other people in the community to discuss this over lunch at Idealab. We had about 15 people show up, from all of the Idealab operating companies and from other startups in the area, to talk about the idea of starting a new organization that would put together events for the local startup community. From that informal lunch meeting on March 8, 2013, TechSparks emerged.
Like all great ideas, this one had a mind of its own. Soon after we decided to start TechSparks, Tom McGovern, Managing Director at Idealab, introduced to Pasadena Innovation Council, a group of entrepreneurs looking to unify the local startup community. Pasadena Innovation Council liked the idea, and we decided to form as an extension of their existing non-profit entity. Idealab also liked the idea of mobilizing our local community and jumped on as our first sponsor. The Idealab Design team helped us out with picking a name and designing a logo. A few days after our first TechSparks meeting, I serendipitiously met Media Temple's VP of Marketing, Todd Greene, in the valet parking line at the Fairmont Hotel in Santa Monica. He liked the idea, and as a result of that conversation, Media Temple became a sponsor of TechSparks. When it came to picking a venue for TechSparks events, we checked out numerous locations on Colorado Blvd and really liked the 2nd floor of Barney's Beanery in Pasadena because it could accommodate our group as it grew. As chance would have it, I already knew the owner of Barney's Beanery, David Houston. When I reached out to David, I found out he is working on a tech startup called Abicam and was excited to host the Pasadena startup community at his restaurant. We rounded out our sponsors with Signworks USA, a company started by a couple of my childhood friends and that provides printing and web services to small businesses.
I tell you this story because it's a testament to the power of an idea and demonstrates how good ideas are sparked and cultivated when people come together. That is how TechSparks came to be, and that is what we hope to accomplish by putting together these events.
We look forward to hosting all of you at our TechSparks Sparkups, a monthly mixer at Barney's Beanery. Sparkups won't have a formal agenda, but rather, we'd like you to come make it your own. The TechSparks Steering Committee will be responsible for providing the infrastructure - sponsors, venue, marketing, demo schedule, etc. - but TechSparks is about providing the Pasadena startup community a social forum to interact and collaborate, so that you may spark some new ideas that change the world as we know it.
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