Wednesday, September 21, 2011

FairCo TEEM: Where Westport's Tech-savvy Meet

As part of my series on technology in Westport, this week's column is about where many of the tech-savvy people in Westport meet and get to know each other.

One of the newest groups of people getting together is FairCo TEEM, which stands for Fairfield County Technology, Entertainment, Environment and Marketing. The group meets monthly to learn and develop relationships among local businesses and entrepreneurs. Started in 2010 by Peter Propp, John Blossom and Alex Sherman, it has grown from a handful of people sitting at Bogey's to a group with 160 members and approximately 40 attending each meeting and now meets at the Westport VFW building on Riverside Avenue.

Propp has a background in technology from IBM where he handled numerous aspects of its WebSphere software product, among other projects. John Blossom is an expert in content and publishing. Alex Sherman holds a senior position in R&D at Affinion in Stamford. Together, the three have extensive experience in technology, marketing and startups.

So when Peter and Alex attended a New York Meetup event focusing on people and companies in the New York area, they thought it would be worthwhile to bring the model to Fairfield County. A typical meeting consists of mixing and mingling followed by a presentation from one or more local companies regarding what they're doing.

Meetup events are an excellent way for people to connect with each other in a professional, yet social way.

Having attended a few of the FairCo TEEM meetings, they provide an excellent way to connect with local technology people. Members include software developers, marketing people, presidents of local start-ups and people from some of the area's larger firms. Everyone at the meeting seems genuinely interested in tapping into the talent that is here in the Fairfield County area.

Propp said he was invited earlier this month to meet Governor Malloy at a jobs roundtable at the new Stamford Tech Center because the governor wanted to know what the state could do to drive more job growth in the tech and start-up arenas. Propp told Malloy about FairCo TEEM's founding and said there are a lot of great start-up ideas coming out of this state, but the challenge is to connect them with the skills to make them happen and the money to bring them to market with the appropriate backing.

Malloy loved his story on FairCo TEEM, said Propp, who thinks the group has already played and will continue to play an important role in driving innovation to market. Propp further noted the group is "already connecting the dots between the innovators, the builders and the funders who are all critical to creating a start-up ecosystem."

It's this sort of local and statewide attention that will continue to let people in our community help grow our economy.

This month's FairCo TEEM meeting will be held 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 21, at 465 Riverside Ave. Visit www.meetup.com/FairCo-TEEM for information.

Mark Mathias, a 30-plus year veteran of information technology and a resident of Westport, Connecticut, was named by Computerworld magazine to their inaugural list of “Premier 100 IT Leaders.” This column was originally published in the Westport News on Wednesday 21 September 2011.

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