Saturday, January 03, 2009

10th Anniversary eBrew this Thursday

Happy New Year! With every new year comes thoughts of times passed, and of times ahead. And you know how sometimes you look back over a period of time... Say, 10 years, and you think, "Wow, hard to believe it's been ten years... It's just flown by!" And other times, you think, "That was 10 years ago? Seems more like 20! And what was I thinking with that hair and those clothes?" Well, it's been 10 years since the very first eBrew, and for me, it definitely seems like it's been 10 years!

Yep, 10 years ago this month, I was sitting at a table at the Portsmouth Brewery with a handful of local tech-types having lunch. We got together because we all worked in Portsmouth in the high-tech arena, specifically the Internet, which at the time was still young and impressionable. We discussed the boundless opportunities and potential of Internet-based businesses we were starting. Then, we wondered aloud if anybody would notice us up here in this quaint little city in New Hampshire. Could we really hope to compete with Route 128, Austin, Seattle, and Silicon Valley? Or would this once-in-a-lifetime economic boom-time pass us by? We didn't want to move our start-ups and our families to where "the action was"; we loved it in Portsmouth and were determined to make it work here.

Based on my experience in marketing and public relations, I saw it as a classic PR problem. The NH Seacoast was (and still is) perceived as a great place to live, work, and play. Portsmouth is a well-established tourist town. But if we made people also aware of what was happening here on the high-tech front, then prospective clients and talented professionals would perceive us as a player in the Internet game... perhaps a mini Silicon Valley without the traffic? Or a Route 128 North without the taxes?

So there, over burgers and beers, we hatched a marketing plan to put us on the map. The Seacoast became the eCoast, a loose organization of tech-related businesses in the Greater Portsmouth area. Because together, we became part of something larger; not just a few tech start-ups in a small northern city, but a whole movement toward the ideal of working where you want to live, made possible by the go-anywhere Internet. And our monthly networking event, patterned after Boston's CyberBrew, became the eBrew.

Since then, we've survived booms and busts, recoveries and recessions. Companies have come and gone, but many more have stayed and thrived here in quaint ol' Portsmouth, NH. And nearly every month this past decade, there's been an eBrew where we could meet, have a drink, and talk about it. So come and join us at the 10th anniversary eBrew this Thursday evening at the Press Room. Let's celebrate what we've accomplished, and see what we can do here in the next 10 years!

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