Tech Oasis running strong
By KYLE SCHLIESMAN
Inside Tucson Business

After half a year, interest in Tucson’s Tech Oasis remains strong.

Dedicated to showcasing and interconnecting technology-based businesses, Tech Oasis averaged about 80 people for each of its first six monthly meetings. Another big crowd is expected on Nov. 19, a meeting which will feature speakers from investor conferences. Speakers will include representatives from Arizona Venture Capital Conference, IdeaFunding, and Investing In Innovation.

“We definitely get a lot of Tucson companies going out to those events,” said Grant Rowe, coordinator for the Tech Oasis Southern Arizona Chapter. “I truly feel that there is a lot of interest from people in the tech industry.”

The first Tech Oasis program was founded in Tempe in 1999. Rowe brought the program to Tucson earlier this year. Tech Oasis meetings generally provide networking opportunities, with a little bit of informational content. Local meetings are held on the third Tuesday of every month. The meetings are not agenda-charged. Rather, Tech Oasis is intended to augment the efforts of other effective industry groups, such as economic development organizations, cluster groups or government associations. In fact, at the beginning of next year, the organization will hold its meetings in conjunction with Tucson’s technology industry clusters.

“It’s a very loose organization in that there is not a lot of structure and baggage that go with it,” said Steve Miner, chief executive officer of Vision7 Software. “This one is really focused on tech people getting together and working on business or talking amongst themselves about what’s going on in Tucson. There are really no hidden agendas of any type.”

Now that the group is successfully under way in Tucson, new Tech Oasis groups are cropping up throughout Arizona. Yuma’s Tech Oasis held its first event last month, and both Flagstaff and Sierra Vista will launch their Tech Oasis programs early next year.

Though the other cities have their own meetings, Tucsonans aren’t the only ones attending the Tucson Tech Oasis meetings. Rowe estimates that 10 percent to 15 percent of the monthly attendance is from outside of Tucson.

“It’s a great networking organization. It’s really unusual because it pulls a different crowd every month. There is always a lot of interesting people to meet,” said Terry Gossell, a partner with Bridge Alliance. Gossell previously attended Tech Oasis meetings in Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe and now attends the Tucson meetings.

The November event will be at Cushing Street Café & Bar, 198 W. Cushing St., from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Attendance is free. In addition to the group’s general invitation to tech companies, it also sent invitations to about 60 banks, trade associations and finance corporations to attend this month’s meeting. Tech Oasis chose the financial topic because capital formation is a top concern for Arizona tech companies, Rowe said.

For more information on the Tech Oasis, visit www.techoasis.org.


Kyle Schliesman may be contacted at kyles@azbiz.com or 294-1200, ext. 124.