How to increase community participation in the Pune tech scene? Best suggestion wins a pass

Update: The “contest” part has ended, and the winner (amongst those who want a pass) is Annkur. But, please keep the suggestions coming in. We have some great suggestions up here. In a week or two, we’ll have a follow-up initiative to identify which specific ones to actually implement immediately (and who will do it). Thanks!

PuneTech logoPune’s tech scene is rocking.

How do we rock it more? How do we get more people involved? How do we get more students involved? How do we get more people from large companies (Infosys, Wipro) involved? Please give ideas.

Maybe you have an idea for a new series events that will be very useful. Maybe you have an idea for how to get more people to collaborate with each other. Maybe you have an idea for an interesting use of technology to improve the ‘community’. Maybe you have an idea for how to get people to contribute more to our wikis/social-networks/mailing lists.

PuneTech is giving away a pass (worth Rs. 750) to the person with the best suggestion. But please don’t let that be your  motivation. Even those not interested in the pass please give your suggestions.

Here are the approximate rules:

  • The suggestion does not have to be about It can be about improving any aspect of the tech community in Pune. e.g. you can suggest how to make the Pune OpenCoffee Club more useful that it already is, or something to do with the Pune Linux Users Group, or anything at all.
  • Criteria for evaluation will be: practicality of suggestion, what are the chances of success, ease of making it happen, and the impact it will have.
  • Leave your suggestion as a comment on this post; or you can put it up on your own blog and leave a link from here.
  • If you’re not interested in winning the pass, please say so in your comment, so that the prize can go to the next best comment
  • The best comment received until 5pm on Friday (24th) will receive the prize. Please ensure that you leave appropriate contact info so that we can contact you on Friday evening if you win.

Get set. Go!

22 thoughts on “How to increase community participation in the Pune tech scene? Best suggestion wins a pass

  1. Create a package of upto 3 presentations very relevant to the target segment (eg. a) Colleges b) Large Software Service Companies). Each presentation approx 30 mins.

    Over 3 fridays/saturdays conduct at least 6 such in house seminars (inside the college / corporates) – One in the morning one in the afternoon.

    Include a 10 minute segment which talks about punetech n communities. Try to get people signed onto the community forums and at least make a couple of posts including one self introduction.

    — Not interested in pass —

  2. Create an online poll asking everyone to vote for their tech topic of interest (specific programming languages, databases, usability, etc.) Also note down their email addresses.

    Ask friends of Punetech to spread a word about this poll.

    For any topic which received more than x votes (say 100), find out few experts in that domain and arrange a 2 hour event where they will talk about a specific topic in that area.

    Let those SIGs evolve based on the interest of the community.

    Another idea is to get companies (like Infosys) own some these SIGs with their in-house experts. Visibility to the tech community is a good motivation for them to be involved in this activity.

    PS: Not in the race for pass.

  3. Community involvement needs –
    (1) Knowledge sharing of concerning topics/subjects by subject matter experts through seminars,discussions,etc
    (2) Mentors group – comprising of experienced heads in their respective domains – who can guide startups.
    (3) Organizing outdoor group activities – aimed at group interaction and involvement
    (4) Formal Management Program/Course – targeted at people interested to start their own company. This may be a 6 monthly or annual program.
    (5) Community owned Library system containing startup specific resources as Book, CD’s etc
    (6)PuneTech group reaching out to city based engineering & mgmnt colleges – targeted at creating an awareness about entrepreneurship and startups – eventually help in getting more people to join the Pune startup scene.

    Thats all I can gather for now.

    P.S. Very much looking for a Proto pass as I have just arrived from US and it seems that all the passes for the event are over. 🙁

  4. A little wacky, but who says brainstorming has to be constrained.

    Here goes.

    Have a list of community technology based mini-projects (say developing a Pune car-pool application, a pune-centered yelp like application etc etc ) …list them on a site that enables users to register for a particular project , volunteering and committing some time per week (and using their home comp/ resources) etc, lets them take responsibilities like development, testing,architecting, filed research, project mgmt, outreach and PR etc), and then let the ad-hoc project teams work together and deliver the application. Have an event to showcase them all at a planned event and possibly reward the best.

    Something like what some students do in TechFests in colleges (and something like TechStart initiative, but purely for fun and with the not-for-profit spirit) ; although working on more practical and relevant problems and contributing something good while simultaneously getting deeply involved with a community of like minded people. A mix of collaboration within the project team and competition amongst the different project teams. In a nutshell a pune based Tech NGO.
    Now don’t tell me that is impractical…I know, but one can always dream!!

  5. Go virtual – over the net. Sessions in a room could also be shared (ppt + voice or whiteboard etc.) over the net at the same time. use hosted or self hosted services such as dimdim to conduct the same.

    That way people can attend the community meetings from wherever they are office/home/out of town etc., and it takes out one of the larger barriers of geographic proximity required currently.

  6. One problem that we have to tackle is different people have different needs.

    Students, junior developers, senior developers, startups, large companies and educational institutions. All of these have different needs.

    One solution is to have different type of events which cater to all these groups. However, I feel that open space type events have the potential of catering to almost all groups, if we tweak their nature a bit.

    The most popular open space event we are all familiar with is the barcamp. However barcamps also have some limitations in their current form. Sponsors of barcamps often use these sessions to advertise their services. Many sessions in barcamps are informative, but they do not cover the entire range of knowledge needs of the participants. Also their might be certain topics which cannot be covered in the 20 minutes which are given to each session.

    One solution to this problem is to have barcamps with a little structure (ok I know I may be going against the definition of an open space event 🙂 ). We will be able to serve the needs of different people if we have different tracks dedicated to different needs:
    1. New and emerging technologies
    2. Fundamentals
    3. Hands on labs
    4. Misc (everything else goes in here)

    Another problem related to barcamps is the effort needed to organize one. The unorganizers have to take care of getting sponsors, arranging for catering, T-Shirts, etc. We should remove all this overhead from the event. Institutions/organizations become venue sponsors. However, participants pay for their food and snacks. No T-Shirts need be made. If people wish to advertise their products and distribute T-Shirts, they are free to do so.

    Having one such open space event every 2 months followed by more specific events (someone talks about REST, someone talks about GIT, distributed databases, etc) every other weekend should take care of most of the needs of different people. Some of these events can even be virtual, happening in Second Life, or DimDim, etc.

  7. go to orkut.
    search for all “pune” groups.
    join all the pune IT company groups.
    eg: infosys pune, wipro pune, …
    each has 1000+ members.

    now you can post about punetech on the common forum, or request the group admin to do so.

    (taking it further, you can write a bot that does that for every punetech event for you 🙂
    i.e. everytime you have a punetech event coming up, the bot can automatically post about it to all your chosen company forums :))

    ps: already have a proto pass

  8. I think we have enough Events in Pune already. The real problem is the lack of awareness among the people, those who know usually come and they even participate.

    I can say this for two reasons

    1) when i organized phpcamp last year, once we were in newspaper we started getting almost 250 registrations everyday.

    2) recent event was originally talked by freeman in barcamp 5 last November nothing happened, but when it was in announced in punetech linkedin group(i think) it got response from companies, and when it was announced into newspaper it got response from students.

    what we really need to focus is to find ways to increase the awareness about events, we should find ways to collaborate with newspapers and above two examples show that.

    Once people know, they participate.

  9. Over the past few months I have realised that the best way to ensure participation is to reach the people with a desire and give them a platform. A good, practical and simple way of doing that would be to ask any 3 participants attending OCC (or similar event) “Why are you here?”

    Record that with your Digital camera (2-4 mins video) and upload it on YouTube. Now make efforts to spread this to the students community and professionals. Should work to encourage people participation …

    I can think of some off line efforts aswell, but this sounds good enough to me for here 🙂


  10. We have occasional events and bar camps but these events are not institutionalised.If there are certain events that are organised yearly to weekly depending on the needs across Pune with a defined agenda, time and expected participant profiles that will go a long way.One format can be people who do things significantly better than the rest sharing how they do things differently and how others can learn from them.
    Another thing is to be a little less obsessive about all things tech = IT.We need to think from a more abstract perspective. We have in Pune some of the finest companies and institues in Pharmaceuticals(Serum institute),Chemistry(NCL), Computing(CDAC),Astronomy(IUCCA) among others.
    Then there is Pune’s engineering(Praj) and automotve industry with who’s who of world’s auto manufacturers.
    I do not recall a single event that makes all these different segments of tech fraternity getting onto a single platform to exchange ideas and benefitting from each other.

  11. conduct one-day / two-day “startup school” workshops every month in various schools / colleges and companies.

    Each startup school workshop should be conducted by 1-2 senior expert and 2-3 “local startup” entrepreneurs.

    And most importantly all workshops must be recorded and available to watch anytime!

  12. The tech community involved can be divided into 2 parts:
    1. The professionals/entrepreneurs
    2. Students

    1. The professionals/entrepreneurs: Professionals always need prodding to participate in the community. This usually happens if the company they work for is supportive of their endeavours. Big companies like Wipro generally need an OK from their manager (which usually ends up with the chief of the Pune center). So, it would be best to approach the center heads of all the big companies and explain our intent of a collaborative community. More often than not, things work out. I have seen many professionals who are willing to contribute, but are restricted due to office pressures.
    Entrepreneurs, on the other hand, are totally different. Since they have to manager, who manages their time, all that has to be done is to let them know what they have to do.
    That brings me to one important point – Industry folks generally get to work when a specific task is given to them. I call this the “push” methodology. Something has to be “pushed” on to them. So, this needs a central body like PuneTech or SEAP or CSI or POCC or whatever, to decide a rough roadmap and pass it on to these folks. I think that these bodies play a pivotal role in getting people involved

    2. Students: Students these days get bored with the number of lectures that companies give to publicize themselves. It comes as a welcome change when neutral bodies like PuneTech etc. organize events which are genuinely in the interest of the students. Again, a roadmap should be developed, by getting members of these bodies together. The roadmap should be specific in what the students need (the needs can be expressed by students, or can be thought out by the members of these bodies).

    — no passes expected —

  13. Introduce PuneTech ‘Credits’

    Lets be honest – unless there are tangible/intangible benefits – community service is something everyone wants to do but very few actually manage to cross the chasm of ‘daily-routine’ and deadlines and priorities to actually do something.

    Just like Social Networks – ‘connections’ is sort of a ‘credit’ attached to ones profile – people are motivated to connect and stay in touch with most networked folks.

    If say movement from one professional level in an organization to another ‘also’ (after merit and performance within the team, company) looked at ‘PuneTech’ or some sort of ‘social’ credit system in terms of hours spent in community service – there would be more folks motivated to actually find time and do something about community.

    How and who awards the credit – there are many similar credit systems in online ‘help’ and ‘answering’ sites, processes and working formulae to get that sorted out 🙂

    Say a professional from Org X gives project guidance to students from Instt Y. Org X (via their professional) gets ‘c’ credits for the same from the students/Institute. The organization with max credits gets a priority during placement. Students do good work for a company in terms of innovation and delivery, an organization can give them ‘adequate’ credits according to the work they did. Awardees use these credits to get hired or bag community projects / speaking assignments ,other intangible benefits etc.

  14. * Thrust on mentorship — perhaps a formal mentor program like one you’ll find in big US corporates. Highlighting mentors and recognizing them for their contribution

    * Such a mentorship program should include students and experienced professionals — this might even create a liking for the best graduates to stay back in Pune (similar to Georgia Tech or Stanford graduates who tend to stay back in their area)

    * Improve participation from women, who are a major part of IT employment in India and in Pune. This could include career planning centric sessions for women, perhaps a women-only techie forum, recognising achievers, and so on.

    * Include work-life balance issues in sessions, career planning, career / life coaching. Let people help each other not just for transactions, but to build lifelong relationships based on trust.

    * Increase participation/interface with India/global researchers who are working at the cutting edge. Perhaps a “friend of Pune” community of researchers based anywhere in the world, particularly US.

    * “Open House Days” to be held by companies, tech communities, research institutes where parents, high school students, college students are all welcome to come in and learn in layman terms about technologies, products, etc.

    (Pl. exclude me from the proto pass consideration as I cannot attend due to other commitments 🙂

  15. Start a series on PuneTech where everyday problems (plagying Pune) are taken and an attempt is made to address them using technology.

    Essentially, someone poses a problem (e.g. uncoordinated traffic lights) and puts forward an attempt at solving this problem. PuneTech community debates the feasibility and if it stands the test interested folks come together to take it further. A sponsor willing to put their name (and some moolah) behind the approved initiatives would round this off well.

    Already have a pass. Navin can you enable a thumbs up/down for comments?

  16. The “contest” part has ended, and the winner (amongst those who want a pass) is Annkur. But, please keep the suggestions coming in. We have some great suggestions up here. In a week or two, we’ll have a follow-up initiative to identify which specific ones to actually implement immediately (and who will do it). Thanks!

  17. give them a free(premium/discounted) pass for the next meet 🙂

    do need the pass..missed it 🙁

  18. One possibility could be another pune specific professional’s body but we already have local chapters of TiE, CSI,IEEE among others who must have thought about these questions already. why not bring all of them together and learn from their experience.
    We can also learn from the experience of other cities from India and abroad where tech is Hot like Banglore, San Francisco and Seattle.See wired:
    Put a little fun in the events like JavaOne invited a rockstar who happens to be a programmer:

  19. Sorry for the incomplete comment earlier.

    To add to Dhananjay’s suggestions to “go virtual”, we can use WebEx Recorder to record the sessions. It captures whatever is being shown on the screen, it could be PPT and/or live Demo of a product or both. The audio will be captured via the audio input. Audio quality will improve if we use microphone attached to laptop’s audio-in. Quality is decent with laptop’s build-in mic if the speaker is near the laptop.

    Go to this URL : and expand the node titled ” WRF Player for PC” – it contains recorder+player combo

    Downside : Windows Only recorder (player avail for OSX as well)
    and proprietary format.
    I think it is free to use (The web page doesn’t have any license info)

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