First published in the Sep. 11, 2021, print issue of the Glendale News-Press.
After being canceled last year due to the coronavirus, Glendale Tech Week is returning this month for a mostly virtual event in its fifth iteration of the occasion marked to highlight the city’s local tech prowess and potential. Attendees and viewers will be able to tune into a handful of events for free, from the comfort of their virtual screens, from Sunday, Sept. 20, through Tuesday, Sept. 22. Later Tuesday, a live virtual audience can tune in for the in-person Pitchfest that occurs alongside the in-person closing awards party.
Glendale Tech Week was launched in 2016 by the city’s Economic Development Department, in conjunction with various tech companies and startups based in the Jewel City, as an effort to promote interest and entrepreneurship in the local tech sector. The most recent event in 2019 brought more than 3,500 attendees throughout downtown. “It was formed to provide a space and place for tech companies to interact with one another, to have the community interact with them and to really grow Glendale as a tech hub,” explained Armen Karaoghlanian, chief marketing officer for Phonexa, one of the Tech Week sponsors. “They had looked at Glendale as becoming the ‘Silicon Hills.’ I think the intention was to put Glendale on the map and really have all these tech companies help with that growth.”
The event kicks off with a Meet the Funders panel, which invites prospective entrepreneurs to engage in a speed-networking workshop to potentially connect with startup investors from 4-6 p.m. Sept. 20. That panel will include Ashot Arzumanyan, co-founder of SmartgateVC; Armine Galstyan, principal at SmartGateVC; Maureen Klewicki, principal at Crosscut Ventures; Zarik Megerdichian, founder of HyeRise Investments; Jane Rho investor at DaVita Venture Group; Jim Schaefer, managing partner of Mark Schaefer Associates and founding member of Pasadena Angels; David Tonoyan, president and founder of dot818; and Armen Vartanian, founder of Oceanview Capital Advisors. “We’re all concerned with growing the city to become an emerging, thriving tech hub. We all work together and are involved in making sure we support the different events being put on,” Karaoghlanian said. “We are trying to bring together like-minded individuals — those who are working in tech but also those who are just having conversations about tech or keeping up with the trends.”
There are three events scheduled for Sept. 21:
• 9-11 a.m.: the Verdugo Jobs Center will host a virtual job fair for attendees.
• 12:30-1:30 p.m.: the Glendale Community College Business Club will host a discussion with William Lee, founder of Abrupt Collective, on what goes into launching an e-commerce business, misconceptions about the industry and what best practices are.
• 5-6 p.m.: Eric Eide and Raychel Espiritu from the Alliance for SoCal Innovation will lead the Tech on Tap discussion, diving into what Southern California’s investment landscape is like and how enterprising people can access it. Their docket includes identifying regional and national funding trends and how people can overcome the challenges of funding gaps.
The closing awards ceremony will run from 5-8 p.m. Sept. 22, at Hero House, located at 326 Mira Loma Ave. Tech Week planners will hand out awards to nominated organizations at this in-person dinner and networking party, which costs $5 for an early bird ticket and $10 at the door, until capacity is reached. Parking will be free at the Larry Zarian Transportation Center. At the ceremony, from 6-7 p.m. will be Pitchfest, when 10 finalists will make their tech venture pitches à la “Shark Tank” in competition for the prize package that includes cash and a large number of in-kind value services to assist the winning pitch see fruition. Tech Week Sponsors include dot818, Phonexa, the Greater Downtown Glendale Association, the GCC Professional Development Center, Disqo, Glendale Water and Power, Black Diamond Ventures, the Brunco Group, Inverselogic, Oceanview Capital Partners, SmartGateVC (through Hero House), Marriott and Legal Lab. For more information, visit glendaletechweek.com.