Geeking Out with 64Hex’s Matthew Dabney

With Chicago Ideas Week 2015 officially wrapped up, we can’t help but reminisce on all the wonderful speakers, hosts, venues and volunteers who helped make it all possible. Matthew Dabney deserves his share of the applause as well. We chatted with Dabney, the CEO of 64Hex, an event technology platform, on his entrepreneurial inspiration, geeking out at people geeking out and how he got involved with CIW’s volunteer portal platform.

What inspired you to create 64hex?

Working with the team at CIW led me to identify one of my passions: I geek out at people geeking out. Whatever gets someone excited, I like making it possible to get to that point as seamlessly as possible. I have since helped run logistics for some of the bigger pop culture shows (CIW, C2E2 and NYCC).

One of your other passions is board gaming, and you’re working now to start a convention celebrating just that passion: Chicago Game Con. Could you tell us a little bit more about Chicago Game Con?

Starting a Chicago Game Con is something that my team has talked about for a bit, and I’ve been a big proponent of the benefits of games for a while. Games spark creativity, engender empathy and trust, and improve memory. I even have a proposal in to SXSW to talk about the effects in the work place. I want to help spread that connection helping get more people into games, make games feel more inclusive and get more gaming groups started. We’re back to the passion of geeking out at people geeking out.

What are your next steps?

Which one? We have a big push to spread the word. There are a ton of game enthusiasts in Chicago and the word is already spreading naturally. We’re focusing on keeping the interest growing while we lay some of the groundwork. We have a few small to mid-size events in the works as well. And we’re building out our core team to make sure we have more of the right people around this.

If you could go back in time before you became involved in running the business and share one piece of advice with yourself, what would you tell yourself?

There may be a number of startups out there that are louder than you, getting more attention than you or growing faster than you, but you know what you’re doing. You’re surrounded by friends and mentors that will tell you what you need to hear, and sometimes what you want to hear, but ultimately your gut is right. If you’re not sure what your gut is saying, look at what you’re trying too hard to get affirmation for and what you want too badly for someone to convince you to believe.  And I know you’ll get tired of fighting but each step and each victory is a surreal accomplishment that will never get old. So trust yourself. Although this all may seems a bit self-serving coming from your time-traveling self.

And finally, we want to be in the know!  Name one person, place or thing that you think is one of Chicago’s best-kept secrets—a secret until now, of course.

Taylor Harvey, I met him when I went back to IIT as an adviser and have been a friend and mentor since. He started Monkey Bars and worked on throwing hackathons for a number of years and major companies. I’m not sure what his next project will be, but I look forward to seeing that too.

Q&As are edited for clarity and length.

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