Andrew Hazlett Seeks the Glue to Hold Baltimore's Tech Community Together
When Andrew Hazlett accepted the newly minted position of Innovation Community Manager for the Greater Baltimore Tech Council (GBTC
), a group dedicated to transforming the Baltimore metro area into a vibrant tech community, there were no pre-set qualifications or requirements.
The idea of an innovation community manager was inspired by a 2011 TEDxBaltimore talk by GBTC entrepreneur-in-residence, Mike Subelsky. Via a blog post for The Open Society Institute-Baltimore
, Sublesky encouraged Baltimore’s economic development corporations to hire innovation community managers.
“Supported by a community manager, innovators would then be free to focus on getting things done, instead of constantly figuring out how to get things done. More high-impact ideas would take root because their activation energy would decrease; would-be organizers would know exactly who to talk to first,” Sublesky enthused.
GBTC CEO Sharon Webb heard Sublesky’s TEDxBaltimore talk and supported the creation of the position. The innovation community manager would be dedicated to acting as a steward, amplifier, and connector of innovative people and companies in Baltimore -- exactly the mission of the GBTC.
But who would fill the role? Andrew Hazlett stepped up to the plate, bringing his extensive technology background and unique ideas. As co-founder and organizer of the CreateBaltimore arts and technology “unconference” and producer of the “Tummelvision” podcast, Hazlett was already at the intersection of technology, culture, and online social life.
“The Greater Baltimore Tech Council’s mission is to support technology companies and entrepreneurs in Baltimore. Andrew connects the GBTC to the self-organized, do-it-yourself, cutting edge of entrepreneurship in this region. He's helping the new generation of companies and people powering the tech sector,” Sublesky says.
Hazlett also utilizes his experience with NewsTrust Baltimore and his positions with the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Manhattan Institute. While his career path took him to both Washington, DC and New York City, Hazlett is much more comfortable back near his hometown.
“I’ve hobnobbed at deluxe apartments on Manhattan’s East Side and I’ve worked the halls of Congress and worn black tie attire to the White House. I can say with all honesty that I much prefer Baltimore’s straightforwardness and lack of pretension. I’m glad to put my background to use building communities of creative people in Baltimore.”
Hazlett works as a catalyst with Baltimore’s start-ups, developers, designers, social entrepreneurs, cultural connectors, and space makers and build bridges to connect these groups. Hazlett insists that even though Baltimore is often dubbed “Smalltimore,” there are many throughout the city with similar interests who are disconnected.
Hazlett spends much of his time attending meet-ups, conferences, and business lunches with Baltimore innovators, listening, learning, and developing events like “Evil Plans,” a meet-up for meet-up organizers.
He is also advocating the use of the Beehive, Baltimore’s tech co-working community and workspace in the Emerging Technology Center. Hazlett see the energy that members create when working side-by-side with others in the Baltimore tech community.
“We recently ‘graduated’ several Beehive members who are now down the hall [of the Emerging Technology Center]. Now we’re looking for new members to start the cycle again,” Hazlett says with pride.
Hazlett also uses online resources, tapping into the Baltimore Tech Facebook group and connecting via his numerous Twitter accounts. Hazlett has said that the rise of online networks has heightened the importance of real-life community and authentic connections.
“Nothing beats meeting and conversing in real life, but I love listening and contributing to our community online,” Hazlett adds.
Greater Baltimore Tech Council member and CEO of 410Labs, Dave Troy, sees how Hazlett is working tirelessly to create ties between varied Baltimore communities while helping the GBTC fulfill its mission.
“Some don't see the connection between the arts community and the tech business world, but it's huge. Artistic innovation and creativity are behind many of the innovations that are driving our economy. Andrew's work is really central to that mission,” Troy says.
Hazlett has ambitious goals to continue to impact the Baltimore community via the Greater Baltimore Tech Council. He hopes that people will look to the GBTC to amplify and grow the city’s community of innovators and is excited to help those who are pursing their business passions to help solve Baltimore’s challenges.
“The Baltimore tech community contains amazing individuals devoted to this city. I have a very selfish desire to see Baltimore thrive and overflow with fun, interesting, and successful people. I want to help people who are pouring imagination and entrepreneurial zeal accomplish their goals,” Hazlett says.
Renee Libby Beck
is a freelance writer and public relations coordinator for Medifast, Inc
. Renee is the Baltimore Food Examiner
for Examiner.com and writes for other blogs and publications. She is not very tech-savvy.
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Photos by Arianne Teeple