Start a meetup, you might be surprised what happens


Exonar ended up in Newbury, Berkshire, for carefully considered, statistically sound, scientific reasons. Company legend has it that the early employees sat round a dining table, used something like geomidpoint to figure out where was roughly in the middle and, well, Newbury was the chosen place. I’m not sure what would have happened if we had early employees in France, an HQ in the English Channel perhaps?

It’s turned out pretty well. Most people who’ve visited Exonar HQ would agree that we’ve been blessed with beautiful surroundings and an office that has a quirky, yet homely, feel to it.

Newbury promotes itself as interconnecting major regional tech hubs and whilst there is a vibrant and growing tech community, there is no doubt it lives in the shadow of its big brother, Reading (centre of the original Silicon Ditch, UK) and the 400kg tech Gorilla that is London.

Tech hubs don’t grow up by accident. They grow through smart companies, academics and enthusiasts doing great things together. At Exonar, we strongly believe that successful companies thrive in strong communities and rich ecosystems. Visionary companies help build those ecosystems.

All of this is why earlier this year we created the Silicon Canal Meetup group. This is our small contribution towards nurturing and growing a strong local technical community that attracts the world-class talent present in the area.

The recipe for our meetup is simple:

A bunch of techies, professionals or enthusiasts;

A place and time to mingle, socialise and exchange ideas. It helps if the setting is quirky and interesting;

A sprinkling of great tech talks;

A large serving of pizza and drinks — naturally!

Newbury has traditionally been a major telecoms hub (At one time, Vodafone held the lease on well over 50 buildings in Newbury) and that has helped it attract plenty of tech talent from all parts of the country and from all over the world. The town and its surrounding areas are now seeing a new wave of growth with startups springing up every other day and existing ones growing and making it big. Enthusiastic techies — check!

Exonar HQ (that’s us on the other side of the canal) is ideal for hosting small crowds and getting conversations going — check!

With the wealth of talent and huge range of cool stuff being built around here, there’s lots of topics to talk about. Exonar’s expertise in Big Data, Text Analytics and enterprise software development continue to generate a lot of interest as do similarly-fascinating topics from other members of the community. Tech talks — check!

Last, but by no means least, are pizza and drinks. Arguably the cornerstone of any flourishing tech meetup! From established big-brand pizza to authentic Italian stuff from a local pizzeria, the choice is yours. CHECK!

We were also really grateful to have some support from Reqiva, a local tech recruitment firm that we’ve worked with closely for a few years now. They picked up the tab for the pizza and beer in return for getting to meet some excellent potential local candidates.

We are thrilled by the amount of interest our relatively-young meetup has generated in Newbury’s tech community and we’re confident this group will quickly grow to become a hub for innovation and success. We’d love you at the next event!

Above all though, our top tip would be, wherever your startup is based, if you’re feeling a tiny bit “out of it” with your local tech community, get that meetup started, there are sure to be more people nearby than you expected.