Niche Sites Showcase Local Tech People & Companies

December 28, 2010

6:44 pm

There is a rising tide of local sites, often city or region-specific, that are showcasing startups and tech people in cities all around the country. The latest, and my favorite, is Proudly Made in DC a custom site created by Zvi Band and Michael Mayernick to highlight local entrepreneurs, developers, and designers in the DC area.

In a few emails with Michael, he told me that the site was launched because local entrepreneurs and venture capitalists “were stunned to hear there were events and start-ups in DC at all, (quote from a VC) ‘when I go to Boston or New York I attend events like that all the time, but I had no idea there was similar stuff going on in DC and we’re based here.”

Since I spend my time in DC, I can say that this is a common problem. A good example of this is LivingSocial, the largest competitor to Groupon, now backed by Amazon. The company is based in DC and yet very few in the community are aware they are a local company. Perhaps a Yellow Pages for the Internet Age is needed. A place you can go for finding a local web developer or a logo designer with both small and large agencies, local etsy-like individuals, and even iPhone/android apps developers.

The response Proudly Made in DC has received shows the potential. Zvi relayed to me that after launching the site with 35 local companies, 70 more have written to them asking to be included. It has also received over 6,000 hits and 300 tweets in just a few weeks.

Screenshot of Proudly Made in DC

They are not alone either. Chicago has it’s own site called Built in Chicago, which appears to be a Ning site that was featured in the Chicago Sun-Times and includes local events, groups, and blog posts. (Ironically, Tech Cocktail had a similar community site powered by Ning that was recently sunset in favor of Facebook and Twitter for connecting folks in the community).

In New York there is We Are NY Tech. This site puts an interesting spin on the idea by posting a new profile every day of a local person working in the community. It’s a beautiful combination of fashion and biography and has received rave reviews from the community. Including notice from Fred Wilson, a vaunted venture capitalist, stating it “is exactly the kind of service we need in NYC to identify who is who and who is doing what and why.”

It’s also interesting to see some of the differences between such sites. For example, DigitalLA, which appears to be a similar community site, is actually powered by a large networking organization of professionals who do digital entertainment. And further south is Downtown Durham Startups, who’s mission is to “showcase the booming startup scene in Downtown Durham and to provide helpful resources to aspiring entrepreneurs” but is sponsored and powered by local service providers (who appear to be startups in their own right).

Downtown Durham Startups

Does it matter who is behind the site? Are there similar sites sprouting up in other cities? Let us know in the comments below.

Editor’s Note: Tech Cocktail has been rallying together the tech community through our events and online offerings since 2006, showcasing cities like Chicago, DC, Boston, San Diego, and many others including most recently this fall, New York. Our focus from day one has been to amplify the local tech community by bringing people together and sharing the news of latest startups and innovation happenings. If you have a story to share be sure to send it our way by filling out this form.

Tech Cocktail contributor Steven Mandzik is a blogger at 1×57 and is @robotchampion on Twitter.

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