Credit: Michael Himbeault / Creative Commons

The talent pipeline in San Antonio’s tech ecosystem needs to grow if it is to meet the increasing demand for local coders and programmers. More than 650 tech jobs were created over the past five years, according to the State of the Tech Ecosystem Five-Year Economic Impact report presented at Geekdom Monday.

Even more tech jobs will open up in 2017, and as of right now San Antonio literally lacks the human resources to fill those new positions. Recruiting and relocating coders and programmers from elsewhere in time seems nearly impossible

SlideWave CEO David Daeschler recognized this void and founded Dinner and Code to help fill it.

Daeschler moved to San Antonio from Buffalo, N.Y., where he founded InWorldz, a platform for users to build virtual 3D worlds. While he continues to own and run InWorldz, he realized his passion was in partnering with companies to create complex software solutions.

David Daeschler, founder and CEO of SlideWave, also created Dinner and Code to fill a gap in the local tech ecosystem.
David Daeschler, founder and CEO of SlideWave, also created Dinner and Code to fill a gap in the local tech ecosystem. Credit: Courtesy photo.

Daeschler chose to start SlideWave in San Antonio after scouting other locations, ultimately setting up shop at Geekdom on the eighth floor of Houston Street’s Rand Building. SlideWave developers design complex, distributed software systems, build mobile applications and games for Android and iOS, develop virtual machines, and contribute thousands of hours to open source projects.

“I went to California to check out places to start up a new company and came here to check out San Antonio because our (InWorldz) servers are hosted at Rackspace,” Daeschler told the Rivard Report. “The biggest thing that struck me was the sense of hospitality and the people here. It’s what brought us here.”

It turns out that the sense of community in the tech ecosystem was a powerful incentive for Daeschler to set up his new company in San Antonio.

“I noticed there is a gap in the tech ecosystem here,” he said. “You have CodeUp and the Iron Yard, but those are for people who know they want to go into coding or programming. Coding boot camps can be competitive and intimidating for people who are new to this world.”

Participants at a past Dinner and Code meetup learn about coding and programming in an encouraging setting in the Geekdom Event Center.
Participants at a past Dinner and Code meetup learn about coding and programming in an encouraging setting in the Geekdom Event Center. Credit: Courtesy photo.

This led to SlideWave sponsoring Dinner and Code, a monthly meetup designed to help others learn to code in an environment that isn’t competitive or off-putting.

“There’s a shortage of code talent in the United States, and I created Dinner and Code as a way to fill the pipeline” Daeschler said. “We don’t have competitions or encourage a ‘brogrammer’ culture. The setup is a friendly environment where new coders can spend a few hours, learn to code using practical projects, eat food, and find local mentors to help them overcome programming hurdles.”

Dinner and Code launched in July 2016.

“We’re helping build the ecosystem by helping people realize they might be interested in IT,” Daeschler explained. “We want to be encouraging and make coding accessible to those new to IT. Dinner and Code events will hopefully encourage people to consider pursuing a computer science degree.”

The next meetup is Dec. 17 from 4-8 p.m. in the Geekdom Event Centre. Dinner and a panel of experts are featured at no cost to participants. Those interested can sign up here.

Here is a preview of the panel:

  • Linda Massie, a senior user experience and user interface (UX/UI) designer, will discuss UX/UI design and how to create compelling software and services entirely around users and their tasks.
  • Chris Burrell, a front-end design developer from Rackspace, will address front-end development to implement the code that users directly interact with in a product.
  • Tony Chidester, a full stack developer at SlideWave, will cover back-end development, the background code that stores and retrieves data, coordinates processes, and powers user interaction.
  • Hart Hoover, open stack user advocate at Cisco Systems and founder of SA Devops, will talk about devops, which enables developers to have seamless deployments with fewer flaws, and make sure the infrastructure that developers rely on is running properly and efficiently.
  • To discuss project management and stakeholder management, Rafael Barroso, CIO at Parlevel Systems, and Donovan Becker, director of product development at MilTribe, will talk about project management of large-scale software development. MilTribe, an online, secure, military-only marketplace for current and veteran military families, is also a Slide Wave client.

Daeschler has a message for those coming to Dinner and Code events.

“For people who don’t have coding skills, I’d like to tell them ‘It’s ok to be interested in technology,’” he said. “There are ways to be involved in technology without coding experience. Come to an event and find out how.”

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Iris Gonzalez

Iris Gonzalez writes about technology, life science and veteran affairs.