When it comes to tech, you’ve got to think global – but when it comes to Techtoberfest, which kicked off to a sold-out crowd today at the Communitech Hub, it’s also a time to think local.

If there was any doubt about that, it disappeared at lunchtime, when the quintessential Waterloo Region aroma of sauerkraut filled the Hub’s networking space.

As the world’s second-largest Oktoberfest continues in festhalls around town, Techtoberfest is celebrating Waterloo Region’s world-class startup community in decidedly down-home style.

For the 150 people gathered here for three days of speeches, workshops, pitch sessions and networking, that also means sausages, beer, and yes – sauerkraut – in honour of the Germanic roots that grew into the thick forest of entrepreneurship we see here today.

The evolution of Communitech’s previous Entrepreneur Week into Techtoberfest “is absolutely the right thing,” Communitech CEO Iain Klugman told me as a hungry crowd lined up for lunch behind him.

“It’s very much unique to our community, but reflective of our community,” Klugman said. “And I think the fact that we’ve got 15 people here who have come from California as part of the C100 to be part of Techtoberfest is very exciting.”

Klugman’s comments alluded to a theme that had already surfaced at Techtoberfest, during the morning keynote sessions – that a healthy startup community needs to be itself, and work with, rather than envy, other centres.

It’s an approach that’s worked well for the first keynote speaker, Desire2Learn founder and CEO John Baker, and was advocated strongly by the second, Martin Green, a San Francisco resident who grew up in Waterloo and worked as an investment banker in New York before he joined CNET, and then Meebo, in the Valley.

“Don’t have Silicon Valley envy,” Martin told me in an interview after telling the Techtoberfest audience the same thing, “but have an awesome focus on customers and a great mission to solve real, real problems, and find people who are interested to join your team and solve that problem.”

A full version of my chat with Green will follow. Now, on to catch some of the afternoon breakouts, where I’ll be tweeting as @ajreinhart.

About The Author

Anthony Reinhart
Director, Editorial Strategy

Anthony Reinhart is a veteran journalist who left the Globe and Mail to join Communitech in 2011. Tony has covered everything from crime, politics and courts to business, the arts and sports, and his writing has won numerous journalism awards. He is Communitech's Director of Editorial Strategy and senior staff writer.