Top 5 Events for Startup Entrepreneurs in ABQ
By Javier Romero, Founder of Hangerang
As a lifelong resident of New Mexico, I’ve been a web designer/developer professionally for the past 20 years. Last spring, I embarked on the wondrous journey of software entrepreneur with my new company Hangerang.
I knew I needed help. So I’ve made a conscious decision to reach out to the local tech/entrepreneur community for guidance which included getting engaged with the Tech Navigator program through City Alive. Hangerang’s sole mission is to encourage and engage people in the lost art of socializing in the real world. So over the past few months I’ve done just that: I have attended countless meetings and events, and have made some great new connections along the way. What did I do and who did I talk to? Glad you asked.
Here are my picks of the top five events that helped me on my startup journey:
1MC: Wait...How many cups?
Would you enjoy free coffee (with possible donuts) and an energetic dose of business discussion and inspiration? Wednesday morning’s 1 Million Cups (or 1MC) should be right up your alley! Entrepreneurs are invited to present their experience developing their own businesses, address their wins and challenges and ask for help from the community. The organizers are very approachable and are excellent at making the presenters and attendees feel welcome. At the beginning of each session, organizers highlight other events and resources that are available in the region, which is invaluable if you are just getting your feet wet.
It took me about a month of attending 1MC to come out of my shell and introduce myself (I’m a wallflower at heart). Attending 1MC has really been the cornerstone toward broadening my horizons. Through 1MC, I’ve found mentors, collaborators, new friends, and other exciting opportunities.
Every Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. | www.1millioncups.com/albuquerque
Open Hours at the Tech Navigator
The 1MC community directed me toward City Alive’s Tech Navigators program where I could attend open office hours with a resident tech business expert. I had the privilege of meeting with Dorian Rader, the managing partner at NMA Ventures. I waited my turn at the coffee station at the back of the Fat Pipe, and when she was ready she beckoned me over to chat. She asked where I was in my process, liked what she heard and put the word out to other City Alive members to help get some beta testers for Hangerang. During our meetings, I asked Dorian lots of questions, including advice about bringing on partners, fundraising, and how to protect my own IP. She was incredibly open and helpful. Although Dorian is no longer the resident tech navigator, I’d encourage any new startup entrepreneur to contact the Tech Navigator program and ask questions to these friendly experts.
By appointment | cityalive.org/tech-navigators/
If you are in the startup space, you’ll want to know the illustrious and affable Eric Renz-Whitmore. He is the current Entrepreneur Development Manager for the City, and organizes a monthly meetup on the subject of blockchain technology. For a moment I thought Hangerang might use Blockchain for a feature, so I thought I’d attend. The special guest for June was local expert in the space, Solve Maxwell, who did a great job conveying the current state of the technology as well as highlighting some exciting local developments. One thing that piqued my interest was the idea of using Blockchain as a vehicle for crowd fundraising, with Free Range being a successful local example of this model. Blockchain wasn’t the right way for Hangerang to go just yet...but it was great to attend such an informative meet up.
Next Meetup: Monday Nov 19, 5:45 p.m. to 8 p.m. | www.meetup.com/nmtechscene/events/rvxbdqyxmbwb/
Go WESST, young man!
Next, I set up an initial consulting session Mark Gilboard, a business consultant and trainer at WESST. As they say in their tagline, WESST is a “place to start and grow your business”—even so, I didn’t really know what to expect. But my session with Mark was an absolute pleasure. Mark was full of excitement and enthusiasm, he understood the Hangerang concept and we quickly began spitballing ideas about branding and methods for traction and growth. He told me about the great programs that WESST has to offer on the premises like classes, office space, and lending services—and suggested that I attend the next ABQiD office hours to talk about their new incubator/accelerator program.
By appointment | www.wesst.org/
ABQiD: Accelerator or incubator?
On my way to the ABQiD office hours, I was full of the vigor and confidence of a man twice my height and half my age. Mark introduced me to T.J. Cook of ABQiD. T.J. helped me think through whether Hangerang a good candidate for the upcoming accelerator/incubator. He understood the mission, but had his reservations. His core concern was that I was a solopreneur. Statistically speaking, solopreneurs face more challenges starting up. T.J. mentioned that another previous attendee had an idea similar to Hangerang, and perhaps it would be a good idea to join forces. T.J. connected us by email and we agreed to meet later that week.
Long story short, T.J. was just the matchmaker I needed. Now I have two teammates, and the new Hangerang team has some really exciting and creative ideas in development for the near future. I’d definitely recommend ABQiD office hours if you’re looking to get some initial feedback on your business idea and speak with successful folks who have been to a few rodeos in their day.
Every Wednesday, 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. | www.abqid.com/weekly-office-hours/
If you are pursuing entrepreneurship here in New Mexico, there are plenty of resources and programs out there—it’s a community that is impressively helpful and genuinely engaged. I’ve found that we are overflowing with experienced and genuine folks ready to help.
Our community can be a model for a new kind of economic growth—one that doesn’t replay the “growth at all costs” mistakes we’ve observed in the Silicon Valley and, more recently, in Colorado. Here in New Mexico, we really only have each other. If we can keep up the creative enthusiasm, we can make incredible things happen.
Wanna help out? If you’re interested in the next phase of Hangerang development, sign up for our mailing list at hangerang.us and we’ll let you know when our new features start to roll out!
Connect The Dots:
City Alive is a collective impact initiative focused on providing more resources for local startup entrepreneurs and small businesses. Visit the Resources Page for more.