The Tech Battle of the Bands Charity Concert Returns

startGNV and GRACE Marketplace are bringing back this popular charity concert. Read more about its history here.

The Tech Battle of the Bands Charity Concert Returns

by Julie Matheney

Digital Brands

After a long hiatus, startGNV is proud to announce that this beloved tech-community event is back in 2022! The last time the community was able to gather for this annual event was back in 2019 when Infotech, Feathr, SharpSpring and Digital Brands took the stage at The High Dive. Now that things have calmed down a bit, it’s time to rock out for a good cause!

Since 2014, musicians from local tech companies have formed bands to showcase their talents and raise funds to help end homelessness in Gainesville. Over the years, this event has been organized by different groups and has gone by many names, but the purpose has remained the same — to bring the tech community together to offset its impact on affordable housing.

Not long after GRACE Marketplace opened its doors in 2014, its Executive Director, Jon DeCarmine and his wife Julie Matheney took a trip to San Francisco to check out St. Anthony’s homeless services campus in the heart of the Tenderloin district.

Visit to San Francisco's Tenderloin District

While touring St. Anthony’s their guide walked them through their Tenderloin Technology Lab (TTL) and explained the relationship between Bay Area technology companies and their organization. “The WiFi was set up by Craig… you know, from Craigslist,” the guide said. “And employees from Facebook and Twitter come in to maintain our equipment and teach people how to code,” she continued. The tech lab is fueled by the idea that everyone deserves access to the modern technology tools that are necessary for full societal participation — whether that means building skills for or finding employment, accessing resources, or simply connecting with family and friends

Tenderloin Technology Lab

Another reason behind the support from local tech companies comes from an effort to mitigate their impact on affordable housing. While tech companies create jobs, offer high wages, and bring dollars into the cities they occupy, there’s a downside: they can worsen the housing crisis and widen the inequality gap. For all the great things tech companies offer, they inadvertently raise housing prices to the point where some of the city’s original residents can no longer afford to live there. Simply put, disruptive technology can disrupt local communities.

As head of marketing at Paracosm and a member of Gainesville’s tech community, Julie was inspired to create a way for companies like hers to be mindful of their impact and do something about it. “I didn’t want to see our tech community add to the affordable housing shortage here in Gainesville. I thought if we could raise awareness about this side effect and get our tech companies involved with GRACE, we could bake giving back into our community’s DNA — and it worked,” she said.

Since the first Battle of the Bands in 2014, the support from local tech companies has grown tremendously year over year. Digital Brands built a new website for GRACE, regularly offers matching gifts to support fundraising campaigns, and sponsored the launch of The Josh Greenberg Computer Lab to honor the late founder of Grooveshark. Paracosm donated hundreds of USBs, served meals, and many employees became monthly donors. SharpSpring helped raise thousands of dollars as they hosted the tech charity concert for the last four years. Infotech has served meals, donated laptops, and has become a major donor while Fracture has also served meals and has been the title sponsor of GRACE’s annual Farm to Table Dinner to End Homelessness two years in a row — and the list goes on.

And through working with tech companies, GRACE has learned a thing or two along the way. “We really operate more like a startup than a traditional nonprofit,” said Jon DeCarmine, executive director at GRACE. “We’re always iterating, we’re not afraid to pivot, and we’re establishing new best practices. We’re so grateful for the support of our local tech community. Together we can make a huge difference and allow people in our community to find safe and stable housing,” he added.

Since the pandemic kept this event from happening for the last couple of years, startGNV is excited to make up for lost time, get our tech community together, and support the efforts to raise funds for a good cause.

This year’s concert will take place on Friday, September 23rd at The Wooly and the winning title will go to the company/band that raises the most funds for GRACE through ticket sales, donations, and the silent auction. Tickets are on sale online HERE and at the door.

If you or your company would like to get involved with GRACE contact volunteer@gracemarketplace.org. See you at the show!