Katie first got involved in the Combine in 2011. She had just left her PhD program after a year, and at that time was super interested in turning factory-type towns into tech hubs. She started interning at Sprout Box, while also working part-time on the Bloomington Technology Partnership. These two experiences helped her focus on growing the local tech sector, while fueling all her main interests.
Currently, Katie is responsible for bringing key note speakers to the Combine, as well as planning what the program looks like for the duration of the event. At first, this included a lot of marketing, but this gave her the chance to really get involved in the local community to promote this event. She has enjoyed the challenge of suggesting quality speakers and then seeking them out.
One of her proudest accomplishments was connecting with Arlan Hamilton, Founder and Managing Partner of Backstage Capital, a fund that is dedicated to minimizing funding disparities in tech by investing in high-potential founders who are of color, women, and/or LGBT. She started a Twitter conversation with Arlan, and from there sparked a conversation that was enough for her to come to the event. Finding those diverse, and sometimes underrepresented speakers not only makes this event what it is, but gives them a platform to reach more and more people.
For Katie, one of her favorite parts of the Combine is to see start-ups that regularly attend, kind of grow up and come back every year more than they were the year before.
“Seeing how some of these groups go from just a handful of people working towards something, turn into sponsors of the event later on, is just really cool”. Not only are the people attending making strides, but so is Bloomington as a tech scene. Each year the Combine grows a little more, and the content of the event gets a little more exciting.
Katie believes The Combine is Indiana’s finest multi-day tech event. She is so proud of everything the group has managed to do, and the diverse people we are able to bring to this event each year. It’s important to her to be able to inspire future generations, and help them understand that everyone has a voice in this world, and anyone who has an idea can take that to fruition.
Fun Facts about Katie Birge:
-She has a twin sister named Carrie, who sheclaims is the fun twin. Katie and Carrie’s first start-up was a fake company called “Birge’s Merchandise” that they made a jingle for when they were five.
-Katie’s first job was a roller-skating DJ.
-She had the idea of creating a device that could put your face on a pancake, but claims that Holiday Inn Express stole her idea eight months later when they traveled around the country in a bus, putting people’s selfies on their pancakes.
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