Jack Templin is a partner at Betaspring startup accelerator and the co-founder of Lockify, an Internet startup that has offers encryption options for individuals and businesses.
In 2006, Templin co-founded Providence Geeks, a monthly meetup of Rhode Islandâ€™s info-tech and digital media professionals and enthusiasts.
Templin talked to Providence Business News about the Providence Geek Dinners, his favorite meetups of 2012 and what the group has planned for 2013.
PBN: Can you tell us a little about the Providence Geek Dinners?
TEMPLIN: Providence Geeks is an informal, inclusive group of local folks who like to create technologies and tech companies.
The sole activity of the group is gathering for a monthly â€śGeek Dinner,â€ť typically at AS220â€™s Empire Street location. The Geek Dinner format is super basic. Doors open at 5:30pm and the evening goes to about 8pm. At approximately 6:45pm we have a 20 minute presentation by a local tech startup, followed by 10 minutes of Q&A. The rest of the time, everyone just socializes, eats and drinks. Itâ€™s a very casual scene, and we do our best to keep formal networking, selling, etc. at bay. (By the way, â€śDinnerâ€ť is really an overstatement. AS220 has a great order-at-the-counter restaurant. Some people buy some food, others donâ€™t.)
Brian Jepson and I started Geeks in 2006. At last count, more than 1,400 people had signed up for our announcement list (people can join the announcement list by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org).
PBN: What is your favorite aspect of the Geek Dinner events?
TEMPLIN: Two things come to mind: With long-time members, I love the camaraderie. We all have been gathering for seven years now, and generally know each other well. Many, many deep friendships and partnerships have been forged at Geek Dinners.
With new members, I love seeing how pleasantly surprised and excited they are upon learning of all the cool tech stuff thatâ€™s happening right here in Rhode Island.
PBN: Did you have a favorite dinner in 2012?
TEMPLIN: No, I canâ€™t choose between our babies.
That said, VCharge, a Providence startup working at the intersection of energy and info-tech, ended the year on a particularly strong note. CEO George Baker and Chief Scientist Jessica Millar both have experience as Ivy League professors, and it showed.
PBN: What exciting things do you have planned for 2013?
TEMPLIN: Thatâ€™s part of the beauty of the Geek Dinner format, we have nothing planned!
That allows us to have the flexibility to highlight local startups at their most interesting moments. For example, Care Thread, the healthtech startup presenting on Wednesday just raised $250,000 from the Slater Fund and is gearing up to take their service to the next level.
PBN: Why do you think forming a community within the tech/startup community through events like Geek Dinners is important?
TEMPLIN: Because at the end of the day, the technology industry is all about people, and how they relate to one another. Relationships â€“ not money, not patents, not real estate â€“ form the foundation of any tech/startup scene.