A Spokane tech industry networking and events organization is being resurrected.
LaunchPad Inland Northwest LLC, doing business as LaunchPad INW, has relaunched here and plans to host tech-centered events, publish newsletters, and facilitate networking, primarily through LinkedIn.
Co-founder Bill Kalivas says he plans to make LaunchPad a community “both online and offline” that will unite people in the tech industry, as well as “elevate and educate about tech and innovation in the community.”
LaunchPad currently exists as a LinkedIn group, rather than its own social-media site, as it was in its first iteration. Kalivas says LaunchPad is geared toward people who work in technology or who run a business that requires knowledge of technology, such as cybersecurity, and toward students interested in tech and science. However, anyone can join.
“We’re going to host educational forums, where we bring in subject-matter experts to talk about different topics, such as cybersecurity, data analytics, and artificial intelligence,” Kalivas says.
LaunchPad hopes to do four forum events this year, the first of which will focus on cybersecurity, he says.
Kalivas says now is a good time to bring back LaunchPad INW, because so many people have become used to networking online during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The inaugural LaunchPad tech industry event was held in Spokane in 2001. At the time, Kalivas worked in Spokane for San Jose, California-based Cisco Systems.
“At Cisco, I was fortunate to meet a lot of tech entrepreneurs and startups and tech companies around the region, and I could tell there was not a lot of awareness of what I called the hidden technology community around our region,” Kalivas says.
In 2008, Kalivas teamed up with Allen Battle to create LaunchPad INW, primarily online.
“Allen Battle and I came up with this idea to host an online networking site to connect people and help them build relationships based on their industry,” Kalivas says. “That grew to about 8,000 members.”
In 2012, Kalivas and Battle sold LaunchPad INW to Greater Spokane Incorporated. Kalivas says he and Battle bought the name back a couple of months ago, but GSI will be an events partner with LaunchPad INW.
Battle will host some workshops, Kalivas says.
“He has a great curriculum for teaching people how to network and the fundamentals of building relationships,” Kalivas says.
LaunchPad is seeking corporate partners for events, he says. It also is seeking a physical space in the Spokane area in which to hold events, Kalivas says. He currently leases a small space in a 2,500-square-foot office coworking environment in the University District.
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