Smile Politely

TechMix! event unites local techies

Last year, Smile Politey met and spoke with Spinlight Studio CEO Matt Hutton about his recent success in developing educational apps for children. Since then, Spinlight Studios has developed 11 award winning children’s apps, won 10 Parents’ choice awards, and even received a shout out on the Today Show from Punky Brewster star Soleil Moon Frye.

TechMix! is a social networking event coordinated by the Economic Development corporation. The Champaign EDC coordinates 5-6 social networking events per year for technical companies in the area. Most of the 50-60 companies in attendance were from Champaign County and nearby areas.

When I spoke with Carly McCrory, the Communications Director for the Champaign EDC, she noted that the purpose of the event is twofold. It brings together local tech companies for a night to meet, network, and talk about their latest projects, and it also kicks off their Innovation Celebration awards ceremony, an annual awards ceremony in tech. This particular event was hosted in Spinlight Studios and sponsored by the Atkins group, a family-owned real estate agency in the C-U area.

Walking into the room, I could quickly tell the place was packed. Since there was a line of people talking to Matt Hutton, and I took this time to snoop around Spinlight Studios, the various office spaces and meeting rooms that cranked out a myriad of award-winning children’s apps.

Their studios look like the stereotypical tech company: modern furniture, big windows and lots of sunlight, an entire office room worth of space devoted to the server stack, and a huge breakroom (I mean a really, really big break room).

In attendance were 50-60 companies such as Wolfram, Pixo, Accuraty Solutions, Advanced Filtration Systems, Inc. and Agrible.

Let’s take a quick look at Pixo, to give a sense of the kind of people in attendance at TechMix!

Pixo is a web design firm founded in 1998 by Lori Gold Patterson, an expert in business consulting and a graduate of the Mechanical Engineering program at UIUC.

Pixo provides services such as website development, business consulting, and custom app development.

Recently, Pixo has developed a VIN scanning app (now one of the best in the market), spearheaded digital inclusion efforts with high-speed Internet initiatives in C-U, and CUWiN (a wireless network connecting rural regions in developing countries to Internet).

Pixo has developed websites for a variety of clients (U of I, UIC, northwestern, O’Reilly Media), developed custom apps such as JWatch (an app used by the second Judicial Court in Illinois to “prescribe” solutions to juvenile cases based on a large background of data), and has provided business consulting to over 150 startups.

The spirit of entrepreneurship was high at TechMix!, with rooms packed with beaming faces, attendees chatting with co-workers and networking under the roof of a highly successful app development company.

Attendees were heeding what such a good turn-out for this event could mean: that there are big things in store for tech around town.

Keep an eye out for Spinlight Studios newest app, Billy’s Coin Visits the Zoo, due to debut on iTunes in two weeks.

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