In today’s world, networking is an ever-present component for success and Meetup.com is a key resource for individuals looking to connect with others with similar interests. Professionally, networking can help you advance your career and integrate into a new community. In Ann Arbor’s tech ecosystem, while specific passions inspire meetups, participants often discover a group where shared interests further empower the tech climate that grows in the region.
Networking through Meetups represents an integral part of the effort to create a thriving environment that continuously fosters tech and professional talent in the Ann Arbor region. Ann Arbor SPARK supports the flourishing tech-related meetup atmosphere by hosting spaces, providing sponsorship, and managing event logistics for several Meetups.
In celebration of our community’s catalysts of collaborative effort and vision, SPARK would like to highlight a few of the groups with whom we work and showcase how they promote tech-related interests in our community. To capture the spirit of each group, we also turned to a few of the organizers for a quick take on what makes their meetup tick and thrive.
Running since 2009, Ann Arbor New Tech is one of the oldest and largest tech group in the region. During its monthly flagship events (held on the third Tuesday of each month), companies get an opportunity to pitch products and conduct Q&A, followed by community announcements and networking. Ann Arbor New Tech welcomes members from all sectors and industry functions with open arms, holding demo events, educational panel and speaker events, “unconferences,” and happy hours every few weeks for members to attend and enjoy.
If you make games and are looking to make friends too, IGDA Ann Arbor is for you. This branch of the International Game Developers Association meets at the SPARK East Innovation Center in Ypsilanti for lectures, exhibitions, tutorials, industry talks, and free food with Southeast Michigan’s game-dev community. Every fourth Thursday of the month, you’ll get an invaluable opportunity to receive meaningful feedback, find a new teammate to work with, or even just showcase your project with other great minds in your community—including a special guest lecturer from some of the region’s coolest companies.
“IGDA Ann Arbor has managed to punch above its weight and deliver value for the community in large part due to its pragmatic, application-oriented focus. Every week we hold Shark Tank-style (but friendly!) show-and-tell sessions where community members demonstrate the neat games, technologies, and business models they are building. The emphasis is on “building”—we want to reward community members who invest themselves in doing stuff and making things that other people care about. To that end, we have begun a freelancing initiative to help our local game developers become sustainable professionals.” – Austin Y.
As the mobility space continues to evolve, A2 Mobility seeks to inform those interested in the future of mobility tech by creating a vibrant face-to-face community in Ann Arbor. With unique opportunities that range from visiting mobility tech companies growing in our own backyard to hosting thought leaders from sights of innovation around the world, A2 Mobility provides an arena in the community for sharing insight and strengthening passion for mobility.
“What sets A2 Mobility apart is the element of going around the community and physically visiting the various mobility startups, right in their space. In creating an opportunity to personally witness the amazing things that are being done by local startups, our hope is to spark the blossoming of partnerships between companies as well as encourage more people to stay and work locally. We create a space for more targeted discussions that connect players in the mobility tech scene and help make collaborative relationships possible among companies (such as that between IndustryStar and May Mobility, fostered within just a few months).” – Komal D.
MI Ethereum is a space for software developers, philosophers, entrepreneurs, and anyone else with an interest in blockchain technology and smart contracts to meet and connect. Ethereum is a decentralized, open-source computing platform that allows applications to run exactly as programmed, without any outside interference. MI Ethereum hosts leading authorities with a breadth of technological knowledge and provides room for meaningful dialogue for the Ethereum community in the region.
For this group, fintech isn’t just limited to financial technology—it’s about all things both finance and technology. In addition to covering client-facing technologies in banking, strategies on engaging digital customers, and discussions on cryptocurrency (among many others), members also have opportunities to engage in various self-help activities, such as creating a personal financial plan, under the guidance of some of the industry’s best leaders. So, if you have an interest in learning, sharing, and growing in regard to all things fintech, there’s a place for you at Ann Arbor FinTech Meetup.
“Ann Arbor FinTech meetup is a community of FinTech enthusiasts, committed to learning and sharing knowledge about the exciting field of FinTech, which is at the intersection of finance and technology. We provide a platform for FinTech startups to get support, validation, expert advice from professionals with deep domain expertise. The 450+ member community continues to thrive with monthly events featuring lively panel discussions, startup demos, and talks by FinTech industry leaders.” – Krishnan K.
A group for users of R, an open-source programming language for statistical computing and graphics, this is a community that welcomes all levels of R programmers to share knowledge and continue learning. Join for talks and tours of software packages and peruse various code—all with plenty of pizza, refreshments, and friends.
“SPARK makes hosting a Meetup super easy for the Ann Arbor R User Group: we provide the content and they provide the space, equipment, food, and beverage with zero hassle. We first tried SPARK almost four years ago when our last venue fell through and have been there ever since. We owe a lot to the hard work and diligence of Charlotte Dillard, SPARK’s excellent coordinator who makes sure we always have what we need to run our events. Many thanks to Charlotte and SPARK!” – Clayton Y.
For all those interested in Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Machine Learning (ML), A2D-NLP is the place to meet. From researchers and students to practitioners and enthusiasts, everyone in the Ann Arbor and Detroit areas is welcome to join the discussion on the latest developments in NLP. Come and share your thoughts on current trends and best practices and stay up-to-date with some of the best minds in the community.
The state of accelerated growth in machine learning creates abundant opportunities for researchers, engineers, and business professionals alike in today’s world. Ann Arbor Machine Learning Meetup enters this thriving scene with a mission to strengthen the communication between active machine learning players in the community. With guest speakers from some of Ann Arbor’s very own startup leaders as well as distinguished industry experts from across the country, members can access a wealth of experience and knowledge in the world of machine learning through various topic-focused events. Join for a fruitful monthly discussion of the most relevant applications of machine learning and explore the opportunities abound.