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ExperienceIT tech event in Albuquerque this week

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Downtown Albuquerque is ground zero this week for anyone involved in, aspiring to join, or simply curious about New Mexico’s burgeoning technology industry.

ExperienceIT, organized by the New Mexico Technology Council, will offer a series of technology-related events and social gatherings starting Tuesday and culminating Friday in an all-day conference and evening walking tour of Downtown technology businesses.

New Mexico Technology Council executive director Nyika Allen: Event a showcase for community's success (Courtesy of NM Tech Council)

Nyika Allen, executive director of New Mexico Technology Council: Event a showcase for community’s success (Courtesy of NM Tech Council)

“It’s an opportunity for the community to come together to discuss and showcase our success,” said Technology Council Executive Director Nyika Allen. “We’re growing the technology scene and industry in New Mexico, and we need collaborative, community efforts like this to network, learn from one another and keep building momentum.”

It follows on the heels of Umbrella Week in mid-September, which offered nearly two dozen workshops, festivals and gatherings around Albuquerque for people involved in or interested in the arts, technology and culture.

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Both Umbrella Week and ExperienceIT grew out of TechFiesta, an annual celebration that began in September 2013 with weeklong events Downtown.

“TechFiesta turned into ‘Umbrella Week’ this year,” Allen said. “The title and focus changed a bit this time to be a more encompassing celebration of not just technology, but design, culture and the arts. But the Technology Council also wanted a week of its own, so we organized ExperienceIT.”

Many businesses and organizations are participating, but the largest backer is Comcast Corp., which helped sponsor and advertise all the activities, and will contribute a top-notch expert at the Friday conference. The keynote speaker is Comcast’s national chief information officer, Scott Alcott, who will discuss how businesses can leverage technology to improve customer experience.

“He handles all the information technology systems for Comcast across the country,” said Comcast area Vice President Chris Dunkeson. “He’s a real technology expert. We’re excited to participate because we want to help develop the technology industry here and bring more jobs to the city.”

The company will also host a Comcast vipIT reception on Thursday night, an invitation-only event for technology, business and economic development professionals. The event will showcase Comcast’s latest technology developments with food and music.

The week kicks off Tuesday night with LaunchIT, a panel discussion organized by the Coronado Ventures Forum that will highlight the challenges and achievements of three technology companies that launched in Albuquerque. That includes the Cyber Security firm RiskSense, the online marketing and brand-building company BoomTime, and CleanSpot, which launched a new “ActiveClean” all-natural hand sanitizer in Albuquerque this month.

Wednesday night is “Yelptropolis,” a festival-like social gathering at the El Rey Theater Downtown, with live music and food from 17 local restaurants, breweries and wineries. The Technology Council is organizing that event with Yelp, the national online review site for local businesses.

The festival will include information booths and exhibits by nonprofit organizations, and programs that promote science, engineering, technology and math, or STEM, education.

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“The Explora museum will occupy the entire top floor of El Rey with an exhibit for adults,” Allen said. “It’s free to get in, but participants need to RSVP through Yelp, and we’re encouraging people to make donations to benefit the nonprofit organizations and programs.”

The all-day conference on Friday at the Andaluz Hotel includes a trade show and dozens of speakers. It’s divided into four tracks: customer relations management for technology companies, manufacturing, creative technology businesses and human resource issues, such as how to find or develop technology-related talent in New Mexico.

“We selected different tracks for the conference that match problems in the community, or common needs and challenges that people in technology businesses need to talk about,” Allen said. “It’s not just for the ‘techies,’ but for everyone involved in the technology industry, including sales, marketing and human resource people. It’s all aimed at helping technology companies as they grow in New Mexico.”

The conference is followed by a walking tour of six technology businesses Downtown, including BoomTime, the ABQid business accelerator, the FatPipe information technology incubator, the online point-of-sale software company Lavu, the online event ticket seller Hold My Ticket, and Rural Sourcing, the software development and support services company that took over the old Flying Star building Downtown.

Overall, ExperienceIT aims to draw more people into the technology community and get them excited about emerging opportunities in Albuquerque, said Gary Oppedahl, director of Albuquerque’s Economic Development Department.

“We’re creating a broad platform for innovation here and we want to make sure the whole community is included,” Oppedahl said. “It’s not just about getting people already involved in technology to turn out, it’s also to attract people who are capable of participating in technology and innovation, but don’t know it. We want to get them involved and this week can help highlight that.”

It’s also a major achievement for the Technology Council, a trade organization with 160 member companies that formed in 1999. It’s grown and expanded in recent years, taking a leadership role in Albuquerque’s emerging technology startup and innovation scene.

The council more than doubled its annual budget to $200,000, growing its staff from one part-time employee to three full-time people. It also received two contracts since last year – $5,000 from the state and $20,000 from the City of Albuquerque – to organize technology-related entrepreneurial events and activities.

“ExperienceIT is one of the best events we’ve seen to date from the Technology Council,” said Eric Renz-Whitmore, a former council staff member who is now a consultant for the city. “It’s working to bring folks with skills and talent together to build the technology community. That helps create a really cool environment for innovation and business activity.”

For more information, visit the ExperienceIT website at https://nmtechcouncil.org/experienceit-new-mexico-technology-week/.

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