Virtual workers, unlike their office-oriented counterparts, don’t always have “in real life” social opportunities. Working for yourself can sometimes result in an entire day sitting in front of a screen, perhaps chatting with clients and colleagues via Skype, but not getting out for, let’s say, a beer.

Keith MacIntyre of Big Bear Software, based in Penticton, followed the example of other communities, as well as events run by Accelerate Okanagan, and established #techbrew; a monthly get-together a local brew pub or wine bar, bringing the city’s tech community and entrepreneurs together for a glass or two. It’s a chance to put faces to names, and meet new people who share the same working style and challenges.

Techbrew typically hosts a couple dozen of the South Okanagan’s virtual workers, from programmers to designers to coders, and rotates through locations such as Cannery Brewing, Bad Tattoo Brewing, Mile Zero Wine Bar, and The Barley Mill.

“People new to town attend, and are thrilled to find people with common interests to discuss tech,” says Keith. “It is interesting to see business connections being made, and hear owners offering advice.”

The gatherings not only inspire entrepreneurship, but collaboration as well, even among competitors, and some attendees find contractor or potential employees over a pint of craft beer or glass of Okanagan wine. In any event, it’s about real life connection and collaboration.

Keith is also the tech columnist for the Penticton Western News, read his insights on the city’s growing tech community.

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