The third year of Little Rock TechFest was Friday (Oct. 16) at the Statehouse Convention on Markham Street in downtown Little Rock. According to Abby Sims of the organizing team, about 450 people attended, up from around 225 the first year and 350 the second year.
The conference focused on technology with a wide variety of discussions divided into six timed sessions, each session with three topics. The Statehouse Convention Center was packed TechFest attendees and the opening session was standing room only.
The opening session was an introduction and included an appearance from Gov. Asa Hutchinson (r). Hutchinson, of course, has pushed Arkansas to begin a coding initiative in schools.
Several vendors and sponsors attended, and they were looking for tech talent. Companies such as ABC Financial, DataPath, Elyxor, Mainstream Technologies, Syncano, and ClearPointe had booths and were recruiting candidates for jobs.
Lunch and the after party were held at the Venture Center which is located across the street from the convention center. Lee Watson, CEO of the Venture Center, said he was happy to provide a place for TechFest to have lunch and the after party. Sims said it was a win/win as conference attendees would become introduced to the opportunities provided by the Venture Center entrepreneurship resources.
One of the sessions included a discussion on social entrepreneurship moderated by Nicholas Norfolk with a panel including Sarah Daigle, Meredith Lowry and Amanda Potter Cole. The trio discussed everything from the legalities of social entrepreneurship, the ways in which they work with nonprofits as well as resources for nonprofit and social entrepreneurship.
Alese Stroud of Stroud Consulting and Merger Match discussed “Contracting for Techies 101: 10 Tips For Making It On Your Own.” The discussion had very practical, real-world advice for contractors working in a self-employed setting including things such as billing and working with contracts. Stroud brought to bear 18+ years of work with Stroud Consulting, a company she and her husband runs.
Another session that was entrepreneurial based was “This Remote Life: Career Growth in the 21st Century,” by Sarah Pressler of Code Brain Media. Pressler gave highlights of her own remote career, elements of a remote career and resources for those interested in pursuing a remote career.
Sims confirmed at the after party that the TechFest will be a two day event in 2016 and that details are still being worked out.