By Joshua H. Silavent - Staff Writer
February 26, 2013 - Entrepreneurs in Long Beach now have a new Web presence to connect with each other and their customers thanks to the creation of an innovative digital map that pinpoints the location and company information of tech start-ups across the city.
A few dozen of the brightest tech minds in Long Beach gathered at WE Labs downtown in late February for a night of coding and website design (dubbed Long Beach Hack Night) aimed at putting local start-ups on the map – literally.
Copywriters and data-miners pitched in to create the content now found on the website, also known as LBConnect.
So what will you see when you visit map.longbeachtech.org?
“They’ll see a map of the City of Long Beach with, hopefully, most of the technology ecosystem that exists in the city displayed on the map,” said John Grefe, U.S. operations director for The Waypoint, a local start-up that provides online bookings for marinas to list their vacant berths and boat owners to search, book and pay for moorings.
Grefe organized the event along with a few of his techie cohorts, such as Steve Kochan (comfreight.com), DW Ferrel (episocial.com), Mike Stewart (zaferia.net) and Ali Kohani, executive director of incubator Long Beach Tech.
Visitors to the website will see a Google map of Long Beach fitted with pins spotlighting dozens of local start-ups. Scroll over each pin and a window pops up showing the company name. One click on the pin reveals core company information, including links to web pages and contact information.
Grefe said the map establishes a sense of community among entrepreneurs by showing where co-work spaces can be found, or where graphic designers are congregating, for example. Moreover, the website allows businesses to plug in their own information and create their own profile. “That’s one of the coolest things about this,” Grefe said. “It’s not just a static directory.”
Those involved in developing the LBConnect map hope it will be a starting point for supporting the burgeoning tech industry in Long Beach and recruiting new companies to the city.
“Our goal is to create a creative environment and at the same time bring awareness to Long Beach as a technology city,” Kohani said. “Hack night will produce an organic environment where entrepreneurs and technology folks will be able to come together and create relationships, and hopefully be the reason why new companies will form in Long Beach.”
Kohani is somewhat baffled that major tech companies don’t typically associate with Long Beach. With the largest seaport complex in the nation in its backyard, universities and colleges, a growing airport, robust sailing community and talented workforce, “There is really no good excuse why Long Beach shouldn’t be a leader in Southern California technology space,” Kohani said.