Monday, June 16, 2014

Memphis tech community loses one of its great leaders

Earlier this evening, I was reading my Twitter feed and came across the following tweet from a friend in the Memphis tech scene:

I read it a couple of times, first not thinking I had read it right, then understanding - but not believing - what I was reading.

This past weekend, Memphis unexpectedly lost (as Elizabeth aptly points out) one of the great champions of the thriving, yet still growing, tech community in Memphis. Dave Barger Jr. was an entrepreneur, the founder and CEO of LunaWeb, Inc. But perhaps as importantly as that job, he was dedicated to "raising the tech tide in Memphis" by providing multiple outlets for small business owners, those in social media and marketing, and "techies" in general to hone their skills and network with others in the area. Dave's passion for raising the bar in Memphis from a technology perspective matched well with his generosity as he gave freely of his time, and dollars, to see that vision come to fruition.

There are many Memphians whose lives he touched. This is my story of Dave. A little over two years ago, in early 2012, Dave recognized and Cirrus Weather Solutions as a fledgling start-up, appreciated the service that was provided, and decided he would be vocal about his support. Keen to the power of social media, Twitter in particular, he saw that MWN had early-adopted the use of the #memstorm hashtag and asked to incorporate our content into a new mobile-friendly website he wanted to build - I readily agreed, and within 2 days was born as severe storms rolled through the area. Dave provided early visibility for our social media presence and for that I am grateful.

It doesn't end there though. Not long after, Dave believed enough in what we were doing to put some of his company's advertising dollars into MWN's web presence with banner advertising that promoted upcoming tech camps and meet-ups - and then renewed the contract a couple of times. This small but important "boost" in revenue provided the necessary funds to begin development of the StormWatch+ mobile app that is now available nationwide in the App Store and is protecting people across the U.S. from severe storms.

Continuing to invest in the MWN brand, he then invited me to be a speaker at the inaugural "TechCamp Memphis" event that he was organizing for the social/tech community, asking me specifically to speak about using social media as a method of crisis communication - again because of how quickly the #memstorm fire had spread. Though we haven't spoken personally in perhaps a year or so, Dave continued to tweet me once in a while and recognize the work that I was doing. That is who Dave was - a person with a mission to support and mentor, in any way he could, those who were attempting to make a difference in Memphis.

There are many who seem to pride themselves in tearing down this city and reminding us constantly of our differences and struggles. Dave was the antithesis of those naysayers. He found movements and people that were starting off down the right path and encouraged them.

Dave Barger, you will be greatly missed in this city and by the people that you have touched. Godspeed.

Erik Proseus
Founder/Owner, Cirrus Weather Solutions, LLC

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