Connecting to local communities, especially those in a city as large and diverse as Atlanta, can be challenging—even in the digital age.
Online message boards like Reddit connect people with similar interests, Twitter is a global group chat, and Facebook connects us to who we know. Often, though, ideas and plans seldom transfer from the keyboard and into the real world, which makes it difficult to find a tangible community in a sea of digital gargle. Websites like NextDoor and Meetup are bridging the gap between online and real-world communities, but there is a clear need for more.
Atlanta-based startup Tyrannosaurs Tech has taken strides to foster an environment of diversity, talent and tech here in the South. Simply put, Tyrannosaurs Tech is a software development agency. With a team of talented developers and designers, they build apps, UI/UX design work and the occasional website. In the agency’s eyes, no company is too big or too small for a project, so long as they focus on creating the most efficient and innovative product for their clients.
“There are a lot of dev shops out there, which is fair to call us, and we don’t take that as a negative,” says Tyrannosaurs Tech cofounder Richard Simms. “There’s a lot out there that are purely [about] execution. We want to be more on the vision side.”
Simms continues, “What’s the product trying to solve? We’ll aid in customer discovery in some instances, so we don’t want to just be code monkeys, for a lack of a better word. We want to be involved in the strategy, believe in what we’re building and its success.”
Cofounder Carlos Gonzales agrees. “A great way to describe us would be we’re a technology and strategy partner,” he says.
“Depending on the business that we’re working with, they might be a little resistant to technology,” Gonzales continues. “For example, some of our customers are lawyers or psychologists. With the psychology practice, they have pre-employment evaluations. We’ve developed the software they now use to run their whole office. For them, we’ve eliminated their need for paper. They now have a completely paperless practice, which is good for the environment and saves them money.”
Tyrannosaurs Tech’s biggest partner, though, is the Atlanta tech community itself. They organize about four community events a month, usually through Meetup. Most recently, they hosted a Product Hunt Live event at Atlanta Tech Village. Presented as a kind of competition, various diverse tech companies had only ten minutes to pitch and answer questions about their products. At the end of the night, the audience voted on their favorite, and the winner moved on to a final round of competition later in the year.
“When we think about how we’re different from other agencies out there—sometimes I think this sounds cheesy but it’s very sincere—a big part of our vision is just being super engaged in the local community here,” Simms elaborates. “Especially between me, Carlos and Jason [Bishop, another co-founder], who are the primary partners in the business, we’ve been very involved in some of the startups, invested in the tech scene. We’ve watched it really percolate to a new level in the past three to five years. We don’t want to be heads-down in our office. What can we do to educate people, make it more accessible, and open our doors and build a community.”
Gonzales also started and runs a Latino developer group here in Atlanta. “As a Latino working in tech, I’ve been part of different companies and teams, including AT&T, and it’s hard to find other Latinos,” he says. “I’m usually the only person who speaks Spanish, often in the whole company. I wanted to find others like me and help them, because I’ve struggled a lot.”
Gonzales’s first meeting saw about eight to ten attendees, but now, less than a year later, the monthly group exceeds 40 members per meeting.
Tyrannosaurs Tech recognizes that they’re not alone, and their active involvement in the community reinforces that idea constantly. Lifting up others and giving back to the community is anything but passé to them, “Selfishly, it’s fun for us.”
Often, reaching out to competitors has proven beneficial. Finding ways to partner and connect is what the internet was built for, and for Tyrannosaurs Tech, applying that mindset to real-world businesses, networking and relationships is simply the logical next step.