Bar Camp Tampa Bay: all tech, all kinds of tech

Bar Camp Tampa Bay once again brings together the local tech scene October 18.

Often described as an "unconference," the event is a learning opportunity, networking venue and convergence of all things technology – everything from big data to digital media to the Internet of things. But, you won’t find any keynote speakers or traditional lectures. In fact, you won’t even know who the speakers are or what the topics will be until you arrive at the event.

People who are passionate about a technology-related topic, project or idea show up the day of the event and add their name to an open slot on the master schedule. The unplanned, flexible nature lends itself to networking in its rawest, most natural form, attracting freelancers and lifelong learners who thrive in the open sharing environment.

"Fantastic presentations come out of nowhere," says Ken Evans of Startup Monkey, lead organizer for Bar Camp Tampa Bay. "You just don’t know what’s going to be there, but you don’t want to miss it." Evans has been volunteering with Bar Camp since its inception.

Hosted by the University of South Florida Colllege of Business, the event is coordinated by a team of volunteers operating under the name TechNova. The group also hosts Ignite Tampa Bay, as well as smaller events throughout the year. In addition to the core organizing group, 30 – 40 volunteers are expected the day of the event.  

Now in its seventh year, the agenda and audience continues to grow, from 150 the first year to an anticipated over 900 this year.

"Barcamp, to me, represents a cultural shift in Tampa Bay in the way new companies and new tech happen," says Evans. Bar Camp is one of many events that have fueled a stronger focus on early or seed stage companies that need help getting ideas off the ground. Organizers estimate over 30 companies have been formed out of relationships made at previous Bar Camps.

Event sponsors include Forex Factory, Hillsborough County EDI2 and the University of South Florida.

Read more articles by Megan Hendricks.

Megan Hendricks is a feature writer at 83 Degrees Media in the Tampa Bay region of Florida.
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