Networking Thrives on the Tech Coast

March 11, 2020

When it comes to technology networking groups, Carlsbad’s Tech Coast is forging a path for itself unlike any other. Carlsbad, which has emerged as a hub for high-technology innovation, is now home to a variety of groups of tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs, and young professionals eager to learn from and help one another. 

A handful of networking groups in North County — San Diego Tech Talks, Startup Grind Carlsbad, San Diego Tech Hub, and Carlsbad Young Professionals bringing together dynamic leaders from diverse backgrounds. 

Ryan Rusnak, co-founder of Airspace Technologies, which was rated one of the “Best Tech Companies in Carlsbad,” said he launched San Diego Tech Talks (formerly Carlsbad Tech Talks) as a way to bring together people in technology in North County. 

“I started the meetup because I was having a hard time convincing prospective engineers that Carlsbad is a booming tech hub,” Rusnak said. “I thought, ‘There are a lot of awesome people in Carlsbad who just haven’t come across each other in their normal circles.’” 

An audience watches as someone presents at a podium
San Diego Tech Talks has more than 1,300 members who meet quarterly. (Courtesy photo)

From there, San Diego Tech Talks was born — not only uniting creative minds, but also providing a forum for education. Since launching the group, Rusnak has built the community to more than 1,300 members. 

The group, which meets quarterly, hosts lively talks with influential speakers from the senior architect of BrainCorp to the former CEO of Blackberry. They also have hosted discussions such as how to beat Wall Street with machine learning and how women play a crucial role in the evolution of technology. 

“Every single discussion has been inspirational,” Rusnak said. “This isn’t just a beach town. There are tons of really smart people here doing amazing things at both startups and big companies alike.”

Those “great things” are what prompted Alexandra Poelstra, founder of the digital marketing agency, ALL MAVEN, to bring a Startup Grind chapter to Carlsbad in 2018. 

The chapter, which has more than 200 members, is free for anyone interested in technology, startups and innovation. The group hosts events throughout the community, covering topics such as investing and marketing. 

It also brings together diverse members of the community who might not have met otherwise, Poelstra said. 

A large group of professionals pose for the camera
Startup Grind of Carlsbad meets regularly to cover topics such as investing and marketing. (Courtesy photo)

“While Startup Grind was built around technology, our audience is vast and diverse, ranging from lawyers, to restaurants, CPAs and business coaches,” Poelstra said. “As long as it helps people and falls within our values, we love it. The biggest value Startup Grind has to offer is the relationships made and the wisdom provided to the community that can help businesses and startups grow. People are walking away with the next steps to grow and leveraging partnerships that are taking their business to the next level.”

But, the networking groups in Carlsbad go beyond bringing people together to share ideas. San Diego Tech Hub, which was founded by Claude Jones, senior director of software engineering for Walmart Labs, aims to find solutions as well. 

Jones said he founded San Diego Tech Hub in December 2018 because he wanted to bring together a “talent-filled” and “opportunity-rich” community to solve problems. 

“San Diego Tech Hub was initially created to address areas that I felt prevented San Diego County from being a collaborative region: We had city silos who don’t challenge the status quo and we hold on to bias opinions of what talent is,” Jones said.

In less than two years, San Diego Tech Hub has evolved into a membership base of 2,000 people from all different walks of life. The group offers everything from workshops to mentorship programs to community service events. 

“Our goal is to help establish North County as a tech hub by bringing together professional and social change markers,” Jones said. “Our goal is to also take the passion, talents, and expertise of others and encourage them to pay it forward for the benefit of others.”

With its goal in mind, Jones said the San Diego Tech Hub has been able to see “results that connect people to the right opportunity to succeed.”

In addition to Carlsbad’s booming tech scene, the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce has been providing the community with a wide variety of networking opportunities since 1923. The Chamber hosts several monthly events ranging from inspirational speaker breakfasts, and evening mixers at local hots spots, to intimate coffee dates.

Carlsbad Young Professionals meet regularly providing an opportunity for emerging leaders to network and give back to the community. (Courtesy photo)

Kathleen McNary, Director of Corporate and Member Relations at the Chamber, shares that “with the motivation to continually evolve our services, a new group formed through the Chamber in January 2018 called Carlsbad Young Professionals .” Founded to meet the social and networking needs of ambitious, young professionals in the North County region, the meetups vary between activity-based mixers, meetings with educational components, and community “give-back” events. “CYP provides young professionals a meeting ground to connect with new people, engage in leadership opportunities, and develop relationships that can help further career or business goals, and give back to their community. We like to say we are connecting with people we can ‘grow-up’ with professionally.”

The networking groups are just four of a handful that meet regularly in and around Carlsbad. Here are a couple others: