Building a local tech community in Valencia

You’ve probably heard of high-tech cities such as San Francisco, Berlin, and New York City. In those cities the tech industry is super innovative. Everywhere you look new startups are growing and expanding, right along with the tech meetups and conferences that are part of the business.

As a Valencia citizen, you might miss other Spanish cities with a stronger startup scene such as Barcelona and Madrid. Both cities have significantly more tech meetups, and major enterprises usually decide to move their headquarters there; however, in Valencia we’ve had a front-row seat to the evolution of the local tech ecosystem. We’ve witnessed its progress from its nascent stages as well as had the pleasure of contributing to it. What I’m trying to say is that the process of building a tech community doesn’t magically happen. Creating a strong tech scene is often a slow process that requires a lot of time and money but is totally worth it.

In this post we’ll talk about Flywire’s story, the benefits we’ve experienced from contributing to the Valencian ecosystem, and some pieces of advice for those interested in contributing to a growing tech community.

Flywire’s Story

Up until approximately seven years ago, it wasn’t easy to find a startup or even a tech Meetup in Valencia. In addition, the local IT labour market was monopolized by big firms dedicated to consulting. The well-established companies were all hunting for the same profiles. As a result, you’d see very few consultancies that would attend meetups.

Flywire started investing in the local community a little over five years ago. Although it’s been, and continues to be, an enriching experience, it hasn’t always been a walk in the park. We started out by occasionally hosting events at our office and giving talks in other spaces. Since then, we’re proud to say that we’ve come a long way. We’ve gone from hosting one event from time to time, to hosting more than a half a dozen of them every month. I can assure you that this requires a lot of effort and passion.

In addition to hosting events, we also sponsor a lot of events in Valencia and elsewhere in Spain. For instance, we’ve sponsored a Women Techmakers conference twice (see Marta’s interview as a speaker here) and are looking forward to sponsoring this year’s AOS as well as SWC Pamplona this month.

Some of our employees also contribute to the tech community by mentoring and collaborating with several organizations (Devscola, Geeks Hub). Since we’ve started, almost every team member of the Flywire Engineering team has taken time during their working hours or their spare time to contribute to the tech ecosystem whether it is through organising an event, initiating a virtual “open space,” or hosting a monthly Meetup.

Benefits

We‘ve’ experienced numerous benefits from helping build a local tech community in Valencia. By hosting new meetups, we‘ve gotten to know more people and even attract newcomers to a new technology. This has allowed us to increase our networking and IT skills as we continue to learn from each other.

Since the nascent stages, the tech community has established itself in Valencia. We believe we have a strong tech scene with coworking spaces, startups, and new companies that are interested in moving to Valencia. This has helped us attract talent.

Advice

Hosting a meetup isn’t an easy job. You have to look for speakers, communicate with people via social media channels, prepare the event, and host it. If you have to give a talk, this also involves preparation: looking for information, making slides, preparing a demo and the talk, and then giving it.

Mentoring people is also very important for us. This means searching for materials, preparing the classes and supporting students like a teacher does, and preparing students for real problems with the technologies used by the company. In turn, those we mentor have the chance to join a company or even create a startup with current incubators.

If you are really interested in contributing to your community, you can do so in different ways through money and time. Some examples we came up with include:

  • Sponsor or create new events
  • Collaborate with the community (coding, reviews, financial)
  • Host and give talks
  • Mentor trainees

Stand up for your local community — it’s in your hands to create, grow, and nurture. The results won’t happen immediately but don’t give up because the community needs your voice and time. There are many free tools available on the internet to help you. If you need any support, just ask for it. A lot of people and companies, like Flywire, are open to hearing proposals and helping out.

Post written by Jose Luis

José Luis is a Site Reliability Engineer (SRE) at the Flywire Engineering Team. He is one of the co-founders of the DevOps Meetup in Valencia and also contributes to the community by making Open Source Software.