Where technology, quality of life and entrepreneurship converge, Bob Summers says he sees rich opportunity for a surge in Blacksburg’s economic development.  

Summers, a serial entrepreneur who specializes in Internet software companies for the consumer and enterprise markets will present this months Community Voices talk about Project Blacksburg, the growing of an open source community. Summers will speak on Tuesday, March 27, in a 7 p.m. program at the Lyric Theatre.

Summers, a high tech entrepreneurial evangelist founded 460 Angels, a local group of over 30 accredited investors in the Blacksburg/Roanoke region. He then started TechPad, a 6,000-square-foot co-working space in downtown Blacksburg serving over a dozen software companies with 30-plus young entrepreneurs.

In his role as entrepreneurial evangelist, Summers serves on the boards of the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council (RBTC); and the Virginia Tech Entrepreneur Club at the Pamplin College of Business. Through the RBTC Pitch Clinic young entrepreneurs have the opportunity to learn how to pitch their technology ideas and projects by making presentations to Summers and some of the 460 Angels investors. In two years, more than 50 companies have gained experience and established crucial relationships with investors.

Summers builds scalable software products. Friendeo, iSpQ VideoChat and BuddyVision have reached over 3.5 million customers in 196 countries. Microsoft published his book, The Official Microsoft Netmeeting Book in 1998. Summers was the Montgomery County Entrepreneur of the year in 2002.

So, why does a high tech global entrepreneur like Summers choose to live and actively invest in Blacksburg instead of Cambridge or Silicon Valley?  In his Community Voices talk, Summers will present his vision of Blacksburg, a networked, open-source community positioned to advance to the next tier of competitive excellence. What are the resources, the relationships, and the know how Summers sees? How are the town, the university, and business working together? What has he learned in the TechPad space where collaboration and cooperation, idea sharing and resource exchange are defining a rich culture for innovation and creativity? 

There will be opportunity following Summers’s talk for questions and answers. Admission is free and open to the public.

The Community Voices speakers are engaged in fostering work that strengthens community.  Their leadership includes the capacity to speak cogently and concisely about their experiences, to tell stories that are revealing of their work, and to present ideas for change, ideas that matter.


Virginia Tech Institute for Policy and Governance, The Community Foundation of the New River Valley, Virginia Tech Center for Student Engagement and Community Partnerships, The Floyd Country Store, Virginia Tech Alliance for Social, Political, Ethical, and Cultural Thought, Planning, Governance and Globalization Program of Virginia Tech School of Public and International Affairs, and Virginia Cooperative Extension.

 Written by Andy Morikawa of Blacksburg, Va., a fellow at the Institute for Policy and Governance in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies and Outreach and International Affairs.
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