HackerNest, a new tech support group was launched in Peoria last night. The national nonprofit organization and social movement that builds local tech communities around the world had its first meetup at The Nest Cowering space in the Warehouse District.

The down-to-earth events they produce globally such as Tech Socials and hackathons encourage camaraderie, collaboration, innovation, mentorship, knowledge-sharing, and much more. Organizing a hacker or tech movement in a community the size of Peoria takes time to evolve and has to start with a small group of makers, builders, hackers, developers, designers and anyone else interested in something that they are passionate about.

Shaharris, Founder and CEO of HackerNest, joined the group in Peoria via Skype to talk about how the local tech movements are radically changing the economic makeups in cities where HackerNest groups have emerged.

Image via HackerNest

“You don’t have to be in Silicon Valley or Alley,” Sharharris mentions. “With more tech groups, more events, and more connections being made, it’s better for the tech ecosystem.”  He goes on to add that the availability of jobs is tied closely to the availability of entrepreneurs. HackerNest is designed to create connections, foster personal development, solve real problems, and grow those tech entrepreneurs.

PEN had a few more questions for the folks of HackerNest and chatted with Ryan Sykes, the lead organizer of the local group. Here’s what Ryan had to say about HackerNest coming to Peoria.


Why Peoria?
I think Peoria is a great proving ground for HackerNest. We’re currently in 28 cities (Peoria is the 29th!), spanning 5 continents worldwide, and we’ve had nearly 5 years of organic growth and success.

One of the principle ideas behind HackerNest is the idea that we can unite communities that do have a tech presence, whether it’s well-known or not. The biggest difference with this particular city compared to our other locations is size.

We believe that even in a city the size of Peoria, there is enough tech talent present that companies large or small should feel confident in expanding their business here. The brain-drain that happens so often with developers and engineers moving to places like Silicon Valley or New York City to find worthwhile jobs is preventable, and we’re here to prove that.

What can people who join the HackerNest community expect?
They should expect to make new friends who have similar interests, new connections with people who can make a difference in their community, and to have a great time.

What do you as the organizer and the other participants hope to gain from this group?
In large part, I expect the same outcome for myself as I do for our members. I want to see local communities all over the world thrive, and in turn, improve the quality of life for people everywhere through the proliferation of technology.

Do you have a few examples of other curated socials and hackathons put on elsewhere?
Anyone who is interested should check out hackernest.com. There you’ll be able to see examples of our Tech Socials, as well as uniquely socially-beneficial hackathons that we’ve run with partners such as Facebook, AirBnB, The British Consulate, and the National Center for State Courts.

Also, if your readers are checking this out from further away, I would direct them to meetup.com where they can find out of there is a HackerNest cell in their area. If not, they should contact us about the possibility of starting one!

I see there’s a no douchebags policy? Usually db’s don’t know they are one, so how do you regulate their presence?
It’s a fair question. As I said before, we’re all about connecting members of the community to one another.

What we are NOT about, is hocking business cards left and right, headhunting, or pushing your own agenda. Everyone who comes to one of our events should expect a hassle-free, no pressure situation where they can, through actual human interaction (novel, I know), make real connections with their fellow tech nerds.

To find out more about HackerNest, visit them on the web at HackerNest.com. Connect with the HackerNest movement on social media by searching @HackerNest. If you are interested in attending the next Peoria HackerNest meetup, sign up for updates here.