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The pros and cons of Delaware’s tight-knit tech community

At a Technical.ly Delaware stakeholders meeting last week, local tech leaders weighed in.

Correction: Rob Nicholson currently works for SecureNetMD, not Inclind, as was previously reported. (8/12/16, 1:47 p.m.)
Leap into any Delaware subcommunity and you’ll quickly recognize the saying or some variation of it: We’re accessible because we’re a small state, each person is a degree or two away from knowing pretty much everyone in the state. Delaware is small enough — 900,000 people — that you can access anyone you want to. But what happens when a community’s strength is also its greatest weakness?

If you’ve been inside of Legislative Hall in Dover, you’ve seen the mural, New Castle County is on one side while Kent and Sussex are on the other side. There are divides of course. Downstate struggles to feel connected with upstate. Much of this is reflective of the tech community itself, as the bulk of the population resides upstate.
Last week we held our Technical.ly Delaware Stakeholder meeting, bringing 28 members of the state’s tech community out to JPMorgan Chase‘s Delaware Technology Center.
Rob Nicholson, Director of Business Development at Sussex County’s SecureNetMD, said, “There are a lot of things happening downstate that not many people know about in regards to farm-tech and healthcare.”
Multiple attendees agreed that the tight-knit qualities of the tech community benefits those who are in it, but for those who are outside it, it appears to be a barrier. Nick Matarese, president at design studio The Barn, mentioned the need for a monthly event for making new business connections.
There’s also desire for more urban density. Folks like Mona Parikh, community engagement liaison at the University of Delaware’s Horn Program, seemed to be excited by the recent beer garden opening up on the Wilmington riverfront.
The point is, there was interest in getting new people into the tech scene that are not already involved in it. A tough task for such a small state. Nods were made to spaces like The Mill, coIN Loft and 1313 Innovation for giving entrepreneurs places to gather and discuss ideas.
Rory Laitila of dev shop itr8Group mentioned, “Delaware doesn’t have a lot of software companies. … We close deals nationally because once we’re out [the mentality] of working with someone local, it doesn’t matter where they’re from.
As a community, we have come a long way in the past couple of years, so let’s celebrate what we’ve accomplished. We’ve covered the growth of the Wilmington technology corridor; Wilmington was also named the fifth-best community to launch a startup in.
We hope to make the tech community more accessible to Delaware, which is why we’re holding Delaware Innovation Week in a couple of months. The entire week of Nov. 11-19 will be dedicated to tech events across the state. If you’d like to get involved, applications are still being accepted for speakers and presentations.

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