October 25, 2013
Paul Beyer got the first taste of what it means to build a community during a bid for Charlottesville City Council in 2011. Although he was not elected, the idea and challenge of transforming a community for the better stayed with Paul. That idea soon grew into a renowned festival for art, innovation, and music: the TomTom Founders Festival (TTFF).
TTFF aims to cohesively bring together UVA, the Downtown mall, and the greater Charlottesville area. More than using mere rhetoric, TomTom has two major events each year (TomTom Founder’s Festival in the spring, and Tomtoberfest in the fall).
The first festival in mid-2012 focused around musical acts and soon grew to encompass local innovators, entrepreneurs, and leaders in a holistic and original way. Pitch competitions, TomTalks, and a business showcase shed light on the action that takes place in the entrepreneurial business community in Charlottesville.
In its latest iteration this September,Tomtoberfest held an event in cooperation with WillowTree Apps and OpenGrounds. The event, Apps that Matter, brought together non-profits from the community and programmers to build mobile apps that are likely to make a difference in society. The process will go on for a few months and will culminate next spring at the next TomTom event in 2014.
Paul sees eye to eye with OpenGrounds in the sense that his organization’s mission and the mission of OpenGrounds are not very different. They both aim to bring people—often ones who would not otherwise meet—together under a casual setting to come up with and eventually execute cool projects with social impact.
Though Paul himself admits he can work anywhere, he chose OpenGrounds as the venue for Apps that Matter because of the ease that it affords presenters while they showcase their ideas on whiteboards and projectors.
Beyer has proven his ability to create a festival that can showcase the talent of citizens across various disciplines in Charlottesville, successfully receiving both financial and logistical support from numerous Charlottesville institutions, including the University of Virginia. The Tom Tom Founders Festival has revolutionized interactions amongst members of the local community, and Beyer is at the forefront of this incredible development.
Beyond the specific events, opportunities for innovation presented by both the fall and spring iterations of the Tom Tom Founders Festival are playing an important part in inspiring members of the local University and Charlottesville community to continue to work on their groundbreaking new ideas throughout the year.
OpenGrounds plays an integral role in sustaining this momentum, as Beyer and OpenGrounds have laid the foundations for Charlottesville to develop its identity as a small city with a mighty impact on changing society for the better.