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Posted on Fri, Jul 24, 2009 : 10:20 a.m.

Tech executive Dug Song nurtures Ann Arbor's 'entrepreneurial ecosystem'

By Nathan Bomey

Dug Song’s considerable efforts to mobilize a community of self-proclaimed tech geeks are positioning the serial entrepreneur as one of Ann Arbor’s top business community activists, his colleagues agree.

His Ann Arbor New Tech Meetup group, for example, is attracting a steady 100 attendees every month - and the crowd is composed mostly of student entrepreneurs and tech executives who have few ties to traditional business networking events.

"There is a very well-established business community here - but it's an older business community," Song said. "This is an issue, a challenge, because there are a lot of other people just like me here who don't know where to find people and don't know other venues or opportunities to talk about this stuff."

Dug Song 2.jpg

That’s what led Song to launch a range of networking events targeted at a new crowd of entrepreneurs and "geeks." He hopes to expose techies to the region’s entrepreneurial opportunities and revolutionize the region's culture.

“There’s a hunger for it,” he said. “People need to be able to connect.”

Song is a former executive at Web video firm Zattoo. He left in June to join Barracuda Networks' Ann Arbor office as the network security firm's chief architect.

Wesley Huffstutter, a new business specialist for the University of Michigan’s technology transfer office, said Song’s efforts could help convince talented young people to stay in Michigan.

“He’s done a great job of fostering the entrepreneurial ecosystem,” Huffstutter said. “From the technology commercialization perspective, one of our difficult things is retaining and finding new talent and that’s something that he’s trying to home-grow here.”

Among Song’s initiatives:

  • Founding the A2Geeks group, an online community that generates in-person networking opportunities and events for entrepreneurs and techies.
  • Starting Ann Arbor New Tech Meetup, a monthly meeting where entrepreneurs get the chance to deliver short pitches about their companies to their contemporaries.
  • Creating the Tech Brewery, a cheap business incubator for tech startups hosted at the offices of Web video firm Zattoo, where Song was a vice president until June.

At networking events, Song is regularly swarmed by attendees and asked for entrepreneurial advice and connections. He gives freely.

“Dug is this great connector,” said David Bloom, a consultant for economic development group Ann Arbor SPARK and co-organizer of Ann Arbor New Tech Meetup.

“He comes up through a couple of startups, a couple of exits, with folk wisdom of entrepreneurial development, of entrepreneurial success and a lot of potholes along the way. And he’s stepped in every one of them, so he wants to share that - he wants everybody to have the benefit of that wisdom.”

Nathan Bomey is the associate editor of the Ann Arbor Business Review. You can follow him on Twitter. 


brian cors

Fri, Jul 24, 2009 : 4:36 p.m.

Excellent, Dug! Great to see your new position and your ongoing, dedicated community involvement mentioned here on the first day of this website! Congrats on the new position!


Fri, Jul 24, 2009 : 2:25 p.m.

Dug has helped fill a need left after the ITZone events ended. Dug has done an excellent job of attracting a diverse audience of geeks and tech entrepreneurs that have not had regular place to connect face to face and develop new relationships. Such informal events are a critical step to building a stronger entrepreneurial community in this region. Over time, these events will lead to connections that will result in new ideas, new jobs, and new companies. In this region, there has not been a shortage of talk of strategies to improve economic development it is nice to see someone implement.

Macabre Sunset

Fri, Jul 24, 2009 : 1:06 p.m.

That's interesting. A friend forwarded me a link to the Meetup only yesterday. The topics they discuss really are cutting edge. Just hard to develop further because the state government is so anti-business.

Scot Graden

Fri, Jul 24, 2009 : 12:02 p.m.

Good hire....

Trek Glowacki

Fri, Jul 24, 2009 : 11:15 a.m.

I hope you mean "an inexpensive business incubator." I don't think the tech brewery or the companies there would appreciate the connotations of being labeled "cheap".

Jordan Miller

Fri, Jul 24, 2009 : 10:28 a.m.

Dug is such a huge part of this community, both socially and economically, and a perfect person to profile on the launch of this site. Big ups to Dug!

Trevor Staples

Fri, Jul 24, 2009 : 9:51 a.m.

Go Dug! Don't forget, he also founded the Ann Arbor Skatepark Action Committee!