Indie Memphis credits jump in participation to addition of tech track

The tech tide is high.

Not in Memphis exactly, not yet, but recent events offer encouraging evidence that the area’s support for growing the technology community here is, well, growing.

Take for instance last week’s 15th annual Indie Memphis film festival, which for the first time in its history featured a technology component to complement its cinematic and musical programming.

Overall passes and ticket sales were up an astonishing 60 percent over last year and part of the reason was the technology track, said Indie Memphis board president Iddo Patt.

“Part of our increase in sales was due to the technology factor. That’s absolutely true,” Patt said. “We streamlined our process and the ticket structure, but the tech component obviously appealed to people. We’ll definitely offer it again next year.”

And the city’s inaugural Geek Week — coordinated by a broad band of tech-savvy volunteers organizing themselves as GEEKmemphis — actually launched last Saturday with TechCamp and continues through this Saturday with myriad technology-related events, many of which are fee and all of which are open to the public.

Indie Memphis volunteer Mark Furr, who’s based in Memphis and works business productivity for Microsoft, praised the film festival’s tech offerings and Geek Week programming, but hopes that next year the two merge to create an even stronger entity.

“I think at this point that Memphis may not have a big enough tech community to fully support all the competing programming that’s been offered the last week, but that means there’s definitely room to grow and generate interest,” Furr said. “Getting all these brilliant minds together and helping eliminate the digital divide is imperative. It’s being done across the country and it needs to be done here, too.”

Meka Egwuekwe, a software architect for Lokion, agreed.

Establishing a more vibrant local tech community is essential for future job creation, Egwuekwe emphasized, but efforts shouldn’t be limited to programming geared for adults. Elected officials and community leaders must develop a broader vision.

“The demand for technology-based jobs is considerable and it’s not slowing down. We must enrich our base with a more technologically educated workforce,” Egwuekwe said. “Our schools need to be teaching more advanced technology at earlier ages and it shouldn’t be optional, it should be required just like reading, writing and arithmetic. We can’t afford to ignore it and we can’t afford not to prepare our children for the future.”

Memphis Geek Week activities continue Wednesday with an Interactive Expedition breakfast at 7:30 a.m. at the Holiday Inn at the University of Memphis, 3700 Central; a presentation at 8 a.m. on neuromarketing at the Bartlett Area Chamber of Commerce at 2969 Elmore Park Road; a MemTech lunch at 11:30 a.m. at Panera Bead at 4530 Poplar at Perkins; and a meeting of the local Agile Practitioners group at 5:30 p.m. at EmergeMemphis, 516 Tennessee.

For more information on this week’s technology-related events, visit geekmemphis.com.

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