developers, Developers, DEVELOPERS! | Growth of Omaha’s Dev/Tech Happy Hour

Last night I was at a party with 400+ developers in Omaha, NE.  I can’t help but think how far we’ve come and as I sit here drinking a scotch with developers I’ve come to make good friends with, I can’t help but remember how far we’ve come in Omaha tech community.

More than five years ago, I wanted to have a beer and get some work done at a local bar… and this is where Beer && Code was born. Ultimately it was focused on bringing together any programmer, to drink beer and learn from one another.  After being around so many new developers in the area, it was clear that Omaha wanted a way to bring developers closer, learn new things, make new connections and bridge the current growing tech community.  This idea lead to one end of the year party and a mid-May party (held the night before the BigOmaha conference).

Early on, I scrapped together some sponsorship dollars, called a bunch of places to book a place and asked a person or two help on the day.  Now its run by a team of volunteers (me when I can) and we have tons of sponsorship dollars.  Now, as the party grows, the attendees grow, I continue to step back.  I said to Kevin (a fellow organizer) this year, that we both hope to return to this party in ten years to see nothing has changed.   Because we want to see the Omaha tech community continue to grow organically and celebrate its accomplished… together year after year.

These tweet from Zach Leatherman about this years party sums up perfectly how we have grown a great community through and why we celebrate it together at least once a year:


(I reminisced in our Slack channel earlier this week the timeline.  Five years…)

2011 – End of year holiday party @ Krug Park

The first ever holiday party .  I did my best to spread the word via Twitter. More than 70 people attended.  Not specific to user groups, just word of mouth on Twitter.

2012 – End of year holiday party @ Beercade

The year snowmageddon took over and Beercade had just opened.  I had even gone to the bank to get over $100 worth of quarters; one of my all time favorite memories.  There was no sponsorship dollars but over 150 people RSVP’d.  Due to a threatening Snowmageddon, I had to delay the party until the next month.

2013 – BigOmaha opening party @ The Old Mattress Factory

This was the first BigOmaha opening party.  I thought that there would be a number of out programmers from out of town and I wanted to meet them.  About 50 people showed up.  This party had bouncers at the door to only allow programmers in; this novelty worked as a few recruiters and trollers were told to hit the streets.

2013 – End of year holiday party @ Upstream (downtown)

This is also the the first party where the meetups started to unite!  The newly formed NebraskaJS and Omaha Java User Group; a step that I had wanted to do since the start.  We had close to 200 people show up – many new faces.

2014 – BigOmaha opening party @ Blatt

Huge party outdoors upstairs on the newly opened Blatt right before a big thunderstorm.  More than 200 people were there.  It was great.

2014 – End of year holiday party @ Beercade

This is the first party organized by a group of community volunteers.  We rented the basement of the newly remodeled Beercade.  We had over 220 people attend – probably more.  It was a very diverse crowd.  Here is a tweet picture and here is another one.  Just look at all the local Omaha companies that the Omaha tech community.

2015 – BigOmaha opening party @ LOCAL

LOCAL had just opened up in downtown Omaha.  A bar focused on craft beer from the area.  This party was huge. Great food, huge bar bill and we filled the place.  Best one yet.

2015 – End of year holiday party @ Beercade

Bigger than ever at around 400 people.  More than 10 people helped organize this one.  We had raffles, over 100’s of rounders from Locomotive Food Truck in Omaha, and we took over both the upstairs and downstairs at Beercade.  Here is one tweeted picture I could find quickly.