OGDEN -- When George Ortiz started out as a technology and innovation entrepreneur in Ogden, he was happy to be doing what he loved but felt something was missing.
After attending Weber State University, Ortiz began two separate tech start-up businesses, both of which are based in Ogden: Explorer.io, a platform to build outdoor applications for mobile devices, and PressTrends, an analytics tool that measures the performance of blogs.
Working out of the AmeriCan Center at the corner of Lincoln Avenue and 20th Street, Ortiz found that as he worked to build his two companies, he was flying solo most of the time.
"I was working really hard, but I found that I was spending a lot of time alone," he said. "And I figured there were other people out there like me, and if I could get those people together in the same room, something good might happen."
From these beginnings, Hack Ogden was born.
A weekly gathering for the local tech community to meet, work and interact, Hack Ogden meets from noon to 7 p.m. every Wednesday at the Grounds for Coffee on Historic 25th Street.
Ortiz said anyone in the tech field is invited and as an extra incentive for people to show up, there is usually free lunch.
Ortiz said he was inspired to create the group not only because of his increasing isolation, but also after traveling the country and witnessing how successful tech communities network.
After visiting tech-friendly cities across the nation from New York City to San Francisco and attending a conference in Las Vegas that opened his eyes to the power of community, Ortiz thought something needed to be done to help jump start the tech ecosystem in Ogden.
Not only did he reach out to other local startups and entrepreneurs, he also got sponsors on board.
Currently, Alex Lawrence, vice provost at WSU, Weber State University, Ogden city, Ogden-based Tech Media Network, San Francisco-based Twilio and Boulder-based SenGrid have all contributed to Hack Ogden.
"The goal is to create an environment of collaboration where people can share ideas and work on their startups or current projects," Ortiz said. "It's all about creating a community here in Ogden so tech entrepreneurs can thrive here and eventually bring jobs here instead of somewhere else."
Ortiz said the community he speaks of is already forming.
Ogden city recently received $1 million in federal money to help fund the creation of a lab to train workers as well as provide space for business startups in the field of software applications for mobile devices.
Mayor Mike Caldwell said the lab, which will be at 2314 Washington Blvd. and will open in the fall, is expected to create 750 jobs and generate up to $4.6 million in private investment over 10 years.
When the lab is complete, Hack Ogden will move its meeting there.
Russell Winkler attends the Hack Ogden meetings and said he also sees a bright future for technology-based business in Ogden.
"I think there is a large source of (technology) developers that live in the Ogden area, but most work in Salt Lake City or further south or just aren't aware of any sort of tech community that exists here," he said. "But I think Hack Ogden is bringing people out of the woodwork, so we can get to know each other and make something happen here."
For more information, visit hackogden.org.