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Celebrating its first 10 years, Geekdom has incubated San Antonio’s growing tech industry

Daniel Ramirez for TPR
Geekdom CEO Charles Woodin addresses partygoers, announcing his vision for the future.

One of San Antonio’s catalysts for innovation — Geekdom — celebrated its 10th anniversary on Friday.

Geekdom usually has a big party each birthday, but CEO Charles Woodin decided to “put more thought” into how they would commemorate the 10 year milestone. As they have witnessed the San Antonio tech ecosystem around them begin to flourish, they decided to bring along other key partners to the party: VelocityTX, LaunchSA, and Port San Antonio.

These companies set up booths in downtown’s new Legacy Park in order to interact with partygoers and share their role in the city’s tech scene. Revelers spread throughout the square, located just steps outside of Geekdom’s headquarters in the Rand Building on Houston Street. A live band entertained the crowd while people had a chance to pose at a photo booth or contribute to a collective mural.

Marianna Wakely greeted attendees to a booth representing CodeUp, one notable company to receive successful mentorship through Geekdom. She noted the “tight-knit” nature of San Antonio’s tech community.

“Once these events happen,” she said, “everybody’s here.”

Daniel Ramirez for TPR
Marianna Wakely and Sean Scott both work for CodeUp, a computer programming academy successfully launched with Geekdom’s guidance.

This was not the case ten years ago when the Geekdom first launched. Woodin noted that the San Antonio Tech District in downtown did not yet exist. “San Antonio was known around the country for tourism,” he said.

In fact, founders Graham Weston and Nick Longo started this effort in order to build a scene that would attract tech workers to San Antonio. Their plan was to give people a place to be mentored and grow their ideas into companies.

Since then, Geekdom has been the launching pad for hundreds of companies both short and long-lived. In addition to CodeUp, which is a computer programming academy, security firm Jungledisk — which now has more than 150 employees globally — got their start using up space at the building.

The company has grown into funding some startups through its community fund. It also helped create San Antonio's program pairing startups with city departments called CivTechSA. In the wake of the pandemic, the company has pivoted from pure co-working to a more robust mentorship and accelerator program. Their mission is now aligned “to empower [startups] to cultivate, shape, and grow ideas into viable businesses,” Woodin said in remarks to the crowd.

Texas Public Radio is supported by contributors to the Technology and Entrepreneurship News Fund including The 80/20 Foundation, Digital Defense, Rackspace, The Elmendorf Family Fund, UTSA Center for Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship, SecureLogix, USAA and Giles Design Bureau.

Looking forward to the next 10 years, Woodin hopes to keep this momentum going. In an interview, he mentioned that he found inspiration in a book he recently read by a Boulder, CO based start-up entrepreneur that says it generally takes 20 years to develop a thriving scene. “So we’re halfway in,” he added.

He ensured Geekdom’s commitment to San Antonio as the two have evolved alongside each other. He hopes to bolster tech education in San Antonio’s schools, with special attention to attracting a diverse population to the field.

Closing out his remarks for the night, he announced Geekdom’s vision for ten years from now when they’ll be celebrating their 20th anniversary: “to launch the next 500 start-ups with 75% of them calling San Antonio home.”

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Daniel Ramirez writes about community connections and the local environment. Although he has lived throughout the contiguous U.S., he is a native San Antonian. He can be reached at danielramirez85@gmail.com.