Valley business fosters collaborative thinking

The Valley business Gangplank is attempting to take the place of a university setting for collaborative thinking among different individuals.

On Frye road and Arizona avenue in Chandler, Gangplank prides itself on bringing together different businesses and academic settings to foster ideas.

ASU alumnus James Archer is the managing director of Forty, a branding and marketing agency that serves as one of the anchor companies of Gangplank.

“The great thing about Gangplank is the serendipity,” Archer said. “You get people together here and next thing you know they’re founding a start-up.”

Wednesday’s weekly “Hacknight” provides a casual atmosphere with pizza, soda and beer sitting out and walls covered in posters, bulletin boards, sticky notes and index cards. Patrons converse at computers that are placed on every available surface. In the back corner, a soda machine stands next to two arcade games for breaks from work.

“Hacknight” is where computer science graduate student Nicholas Vaidyanathan hosts a book group about programming.

Vaidyanathan first found out about Gangplank through their “Brownbag” talks about software a few years ago.

Brownbag has local leaders explain the successes and challenges they face along the way, according to the Gangplank website.

“I was immediately blown away by this organic, collaborative community effort that sought to personify the very aspects of what schools try to do–bring people together through curiosity and desire to help each other and themselves,” Vaidyanathan said.

Every Wednesday, Vaidyanathan hosts a discussion about a chapter of the chosen book and how to become more efficient, effective and elegant in programming.

History graduate student Cali McCullough will be giving a presentation about thinking historically on Wednesday.

“I believe that if people understand where ideas come from, they’re more likely to be sensitive to other people,” McCullough said.

McCullough, with the help of other graduate students, started a website, historytothepeople.org. It was conversations with Archer that prompted McCullough to give a talk as a part of the Brownbags.

Technically gifted ASU students may have another reason to hang around Gangplank. Tech recruiter Matthew Jalayer spends most of his time at Gangplank and indirectly recruits people for Bay Area technical agencies, including Facebook, Google and Zynga.

“We’re beginning to shift focus from individuals already in the industry to college students,” Jalayer said.

Reach the reporter at julia.shumway@asu.edu

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