Cracking Crabs with Local Tech Executives

images4.jpgThis past Wednesday I attended the Tech Council of Maryland’s 3rd Annual Ultimate Crab Feast and Summer Networking Event at Smokey Glen Farm Barbequers, Inc. And before you get any funny ideas, I was there purely to find out what some of the areas leading technology companies and executives were up to and network a little. The fact that all-you-can eat Maryland crabs were featured, along with Texas Beef Brisket and BBQ Chicken was, in all honesty, a refreshing surprise.

The event started at 4:30, but I figured it would be best to arrive fashionably late at 5:00. After all, how many attendees could possibly be there at 4:30? Well, as it turns out, quite a few. In fact, most of the well over 100 attendees were scattered across three long picnic tables with a mallet in one hand and a Sam Adams in the other. Overall, the event was expertly organized and went off without a hitch – though I did see two slightly inebriated network engineers engage in a heated argument over the best switching technology (just kidding).

In chatting with local tech executives and managers, there is much to be excited about. All pointed to rapidly growing businesses and strong future prospects. Being DC, it wasn’t surprising to hear that many, if not most, of the attendees were working on or counting on big government projects. Even smaller firms spoke of significant pieces of government business, that, according to this recent INPUT research report, may become even bigger as 2007 comes to a close. INPUT estimates that the Federal Government will spend $20 billion on IT in the fourth quarter – which has been the seasonal pot of gold for Federal IT providers.

One of the more interesting firms with a sizable presence – they were the event’s main sponsor – was Mantaro Networks. Mantaro provides product development services to technology companies, (primarily in the telecom, software, semiconductor space) enabling clients to outsource this functionality as needed. The model works well when the sector is going strong, and just as well during leaner times because clients are more apt to outsource product development functionality rather than the far more expensive alternative of building out the capability in-house. And, per my earlier post, they are yet another Germantown-based firm with a big play in the telecom space.

As a native Midwesterner who eats Maryland crabs just infrequently enough to forget the proper technique every summer, I stuck to the beef brisket. But judging by my conversations Wednesday night, it is safe to say the only thing hotter than the steaming hot crabs might just be the prospects of the attendees’ companies.

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