Tallahassee is the capital of the state of Florida, and it’s also the home of Domi Station, Tallahassee’s business incubator, coworking space, event venue, general all-round supporter of startups in the area, and friend of this blog (they were a host for StartupBus Florida when we passed through earlier this year). Domi Station is also the home of Startup Week Tallahassee, which happens this week!
And the events are FREE TO ATTEND!
The event is the Tallahassee edition of Techstars Startup Week, a week-long event celebrating entrepreneurship and the startup community. Startup Week features speakers and events to inspire, inform, and introduce people who share an entrepreneurial spirit.
Startup Week Tallahassee 2022 takes place this week, November 14th through 18th at three locations (including Domi Station) and will have 12 tracks focused on different industries:
Oktane22 is the tenth annual Oktane conference held by Okta, where I work. Okta is in the business of digital identity — providing authentication and authorization as a service — or more simply put, giving systems the power to know who’s using them and what they’re allowed to do.
Anitra and I attended last night’s CyberX Tampa event, an conference about the cybersecurity industry here in Tampa Bay. It was an extraordinarily well-attended event, with over 170 people gathered together to talk about technology, security, and the local tech scene.
The event took place at TheIncLab’s offices, located in one of the old warehouses in Tampa’s historic Ybor City neighborhood, which is largely made of repurposed cigar factories from the late 1800s. They have a beautiful courtyard which I’m familiar with — before it was TheIncLab’s place, it was home to The Undercroft, whose UC Baseline cybersecurity course I took in 2020.
CyberX Tampa opened with drinks, snacks, and networking, followed by two simultaneous panels.
The courtyard had the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion panel, featuring:
Hey, Tampa Bay! Did we learn nothing from Fast? Are we so desperate to compete against the Miami, Florida’s so-called “next tech hub,” that we’re willing to glom onto any grifter who comes along and promises to make us the next Silicon Valley?
As the one-person show behind the Tampa Bay Tech Events List, I will continue to list crypto events — people still want to attend them, and maybe “there’s a there there,” but I cannot in good conscience not stand by and not remind people that last year’s darlings costs some people dearly.
If you feel you must attend this year’s Florida Bitcoin and Blockchain Summit, remember last year’s hype and this year’s outcome.
It’s just nice to have, and it helps make a record of the event more complete. The photo above is the post-Code Camp group photo featuring all the presenters, including Yours Truly and Anitra.
Get a venue with a big, bright gathering space.
I may have mentioned earlier that Keiser University’s Tampa campus has a great atrium lobby that makes a fantastic entry space for a conference. Thanks again to Keiser for providing us with such a nice venue!
Provide lunch at the venue if possible.
Providing lunch makes the event affordable to attendees in every economic situation, and it also keeps the attendees in one place, where they can literally break bread with each other and socialize, making the group more cohesive.
Even better, when people don’t have to go offsite to get lunch, they’re less likely to be late when the afternoon presentations start.
Have a great speaker dinner.
If the budget allows, have a dinner where the speakers and organizers get together and get acquainted (and especially this year, get re-acquainted). It helps to set a great tone for the event.
Here are some photos from the speaker dinner that took place the night before — thanks to Tampa Joe’s for giving us food, drinks, and a lovely patio on which to enjoy them!
Bring an accordion.
Because if you don’t, who will?
Have raffles if you’re an organizer or sponsor; enter the raffles and stick around for prizes if you’re an attendee!
Raffles are a great way to draw people to a conference and encourage people to interact with sponsors. If you hold the draw at the end of the conference and especially if you require the winner to be present (I know this isn’t always possible or applicable), you can encourage attendees to stick around for the full day.
Many people at conferences often decided that they’ll fill out the necessary forms or do the necessary legwork to enter a raffle “later,” and as with so many things in life, “later” often turns into “never.”
As a result, your odds of winning a prize at conferences, especially local ones, are often quite good. My general rule is to always enter the raffle — and if you read to the end of this section, you’ll see why it’s a general rule of mine!
Algorand, represented by Russ Fustino, a long-time regular in Tampa’s tech scene, provided a $100 Amazon girt certificate, which was won by Kelvin McDaniel, also a long-time regular in Tampa’s tech scene:
…me! Here’s Greg (who’s also Webonology’s CEO) and me with this sweet, sweet gaming console.
And yes, while you can download games from home now, and while we’ve got gigabit fiber at home, the download/install process is still slow, especially for games for current-generation consoles. So we made a beeline for Gamestop, and I picked up Elden Ring, where my character needs to do a lot of leveling up.
Organized by Kate and Greg Leonardo, Tampa Code Camp has been a local tech tradition for years. While it’s been the de facto local conference for people building on Microsoft/.NET/Azure technologies, it goes beyond that to include Open Source, data science, AI/ML, and soft skills sessions. (My own first presentation at Tampa Code Camp was in 2016, when I presented an introduction to React.)
Tampa Code Camp 2022 took place at Keiser University Tampa, who’ve been gracious enough to make their space available a venue for tech events with 100 people or more for the past few years, including Tampa Code Camp and the BarCamp Tampa Bay unconference. They have a spacious lobby that makes for a great reception/registration and sponsor booth hall, a good-sized auditorium for opening keynotes and lunches (made even better by a patio area), and classrooms of all sizes to accommodate all sorts of talks, each one with a reliable audiovisual setup for presenters.
Some of Tampa Code Camp 2022’s presentations
I was so busy either prepping for my presentation, presenting, or just chatting with people that I took all of two photos. Luckily, a number of people who were there took some and posted them on Twitter; I’ve shared them below and they’re linked to their source.
Here’s the opening keynote, given by co-organizer Greg Leonardo, who talked about the unexpected (and often untold) consequences of moving your back end from on-premises to the cloud, often known as the “lift-and-shift.” There are good reasons to move to the cloud, but the rationale (or more accurately, sales pitch) of cost savings has been oversold — in fact, there’s often a cost increase.
Another key message from the opening keynote: running things on the cloud isn’t simply a matter of “our old stuff, but now on someone else’s servers.” It often requires a different approach and some re-thinking about how you do implementation and architecture. Some of the things you did when your servers were on-prem can be much worse when moved to the cloud. Watch out for these “onions in the varnish!”
While I was talking about Ren’Py development, Art Garcia was a couple of rooms over, giving his presentation, Azure DevOps APIs: Things you can do with the APIs, where he covered ways to do things that you can’t do using the Azure DevOps UI, but can if you use PowerShell, the APIs, and some tricks that aren’t well-documented.
I’d like to thank Tampa Code Camp for not just providing a free lunch (and breakfast coffee and donuts — much apprecated!), but for estimating high in order to ensure that everybody could get a free lunch. It’s little touches like these that add to these events.
I don’t have a photo for Russ Fustino’s session, Web3 – Blockchain Myths for Developers, but we attended that one. Russ has been a local fixture on the tech scene ever since I’ve lived here (nearly a decade!) and we definitely want to catch him. His brother Gary (also a tech scene regular) recorded video of the session, so it should be online soon.
At the end of the day came Joey Hernandez’Cyber Incident Response Exercise – From Tech to Exec talk — an excellent topic, because so many companies get this wrong for a multitude of reasons. He talked about TTXs — tabletop exercises, which in cybersecurity are preparedness exercises where you go through the steps of a simulated security incident.
Events like this go even better when the presenters get a chance to catch up beforehand, hence the long-standing tradition of a speaker dinner. Once again, it happened at the always-reliable, always-fun Tampa Joe’s. Thanks for the food and drinks!
Starbucks was the coffee sponsor. Free coffee? Bless you.
Thanks to Pomeroy for helping make Tampa Code Camp 2022 happen, and for providing one of the raffle prizes: a Meta Quest 2 VR rig!
Pomeroy also provided some swag that I needed:
Algorand also had a table, and when Russ wasn’t giving his Algorand presentation, he was at the Algorand table, and he answered a number of my questions and hooked us up with nice T-shirts. Thanks, Algorand!
And finally, I’d like to thank Webonology — which is also Greg’s company — for being a sponsor and contributing the grand prize, an Xbox Series X!
Please check out these sponsors. They do great work, they supported this great event, and they’re helping to build the Tampa Bay tech scene!
Tech scenes don’t happen by themselves — they need YOU!
What makes a tech scene?
In the end, it boils down to a single factor: techies who take part in building a tech community. There are cities out there with sizable populations of techies that aren’t tech hubs — these are places without people who help build a tech community. There are also smaller places with smaller numbers of techies but have a vibrant tech scene, and these are the places with a handful of active organizers and people who show up for tech events.
Among these active organizers are Kate and Greg Leonardo, who’ve been consistently stepping up and doing the (often, but not always) thankless work of putting together events like Tampa Code Camp and upcoming events for 2023. Thank you, Kate and Greg, for everything you do for the Tampa Tech Scene!