Could the Midwest Use A Startup Conference? Cleveland Shows the Way

By Amanda Lewan on August 28th, 2014 / Comments

When Paul McAvinchey first moved to Cleveland he didn’t see much of a tech and startup community. Paul was working in the internet world and wanted to meet more like minded folks, so he started a mini-conference series that has now grown into a large conference for innovators in the Midwest.

On September 5th, about 400-500 people are gathering in Cleveland to learn about innovation and entrepreneurship at the Industry Digital Summit. Paul believes this conference will help unite many Midwestern cities who are headed towards a more technology based economy.

“What I haven’t been able to see yet is community of startup people in Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburg, and Buffalo come together,” said Paul. “The intention with this is to bring everyone together to create a regional conference that will attract people from all different cities.”

Local and national speakers will take the stage, but not at your average event setting. This event is located in a warehouse and will feature interesting speakers, demos of local startups, a pig roast, and live music and after parties. Did we intrigue you at pig roast?

Paul is the kind of leader we love to meet. He is passionate about bringing people together to learn about entrepreneurship and have a beer. When he started his mini-conferences called “Techpints” he was able to really start to pull together Cleveland’s entrepreneurial community, a community that may have previously been unaware of one another.

“Nobody knew how big our startup community was,” Paul said. “People would tell me I would be lucky to get 80 or 90 people but there been over 1,000 different individuals regularly attending our past events.”

Paul also backs up his estimates of the growing startup community with some real numbers. In 2013, Northeast Ohio alone predicted that startups generated $424 million in economic benefits for the state. According to the National Venture Capital Association, investors have pumped about $.14 billion of VC in the Midwest that same year.

Sounds like a conference in Cleveland, or traveling between the Midwestern cities, could really be a driving force that unites these efforts.

“I think a big problem that Midwest cities have is a density problem. We’re too spread out. It’s very hard for one guy working on his own in a bedroom to be connected with an investor on the other side of town,” said Paul. “When an opportunity like this comes around people are sucked towards it.”

Do you agree? What issues to you face connecting with your community here in the Midwest?

September 5th is the date – so don’t miss out on Cleveland’s Industry Digital SummitMichipreneur readers can receive $50 off with the code “MICH”.

If you can’t make it down to the event you can check out their live tweeting during the day by following the hashtag #INDSUM. 

About the Author

Amanda Lewan

Amanda Lewan

Editor @michipreneur. Co-founder Bamboo Detroit. Follow me @Amanda_Jenn. I love telling the story of entrepreneurs and innovators.