The New River Valley has the often misconstrued conception of being a sleepy little town, and Jami Ryan is trying to break down this misconception and advocate for the area with his website, NextThreeDays.com.
Ryan grew up in the NRV after his family moved here due to his father’s station at the military base.
“They decided Virginia was their home,” Ryan said.
His life in the NRV instilled in him an idea of what life in a small town was like and how to take advantage of the opportunities for fun in the area.
“It gave me a different perspective of what a small town really is,” Ryan said.
Ryan’s initial aspirations were to leave the area, but when the time to move on to college finally came, he decided to remain in the area. Studying journalism and computer sciences at Radford University, Ryan developed the seed of the idea that would later culminate in his establishing Next Three Days.
He noticed a lack of promotion for events in the local area. “There was this big concert at Virginia Tech; it was a Blues Traveler’s concert,” he said. Unfortunately, the lack of promotion for the event resulted in his missing it. “I definitely would have gone if I had known about it,” he said.
This was one of the first events that showed him the necessity for events in the NRV to be better promoted so that people in the area could have knowledge of these events in their immediate area.
Shortly after he graduated in 2000, Ryan began working as a software developer for ACI in Blacksburg. Here, Ryan had a conversation with a coworker that helped shape the foundations of his brainchild website. After sharing his idea with some of the staff of ACI, they began to meet regularly about its design and formation. These kicked off in 2008, taking about a year to complete the finished product.
Logistics and construction proved to be much easier than the greatest challenge, which was choosing a name. Ryan had initially planned on calling the website “What’s Up NRV,” after the popular and long-lived Budweiser commercials. However, the perfect name still eluded him. “We couldn’t figure out the name, and we were really struggling,” he said.
The name eventually derived from the fact that their site showcased events in the NRV three days in advance. “Finally, one of the guys working on the project team with me asked why we didn’t we call it Next Three Days,” Ryan said. Ryan was not enchanted with the name at first. “I was not a fan originally,” he said, “Though I can’t imagine it being called anything else now.”
Ryan currently runs the website himself, with the aid of only a small group of interns. Ryan sees the area as unique in the opportunities it offers as opposed to other smaller areas. “The New River Valley is very unique in the fact that it has two major, high-tech universities,” he said. This feature, he said, brings about events that would otherwise be absent from the stereotypical sleepy, rural town.
Ryan’s love for the area and devotion to being the premier event resource in the NRV has made Next Three Days his full-time job. One of the most impacting experiences in the interest of this service was his formation and participation in the 31-day challenge.
This challenge was meant to, according to Ryan, “prove the point that you can do something here any time of the year without spending a lot of money.” Ryan, accompanied by friends and enthusiasts, set out this February on a pilgrimage to prove just that.
The challenge required participation in at least one event per day across the NRV on a budget of only $7 per person. Ryan and his team found themselves at a radio show at the Floyd Country Store, being given a backstage tour of the Pulaski Theater, attending a Special Olympics basketball tournament, and more. “It was amazing and we had a ton of fun. It was completely draining, but I wouldn’t change it for the world,” Ryan said.
Ryan attributes his success with Next Three Days to the knowledge he obtained in his years at RU. “A lot of the stuff that I learned and use daily with Next Three Days is because of Radford University,” he said. In his years of attendance, computer programming classes were not as developed as they are today. The computer skills that helped him get his first job and ultimately his creation of Next Three Days came largely from journalism classes.
In the last six months, Next Three Days has had 10,500 visitors, but Ryan still sees room for growth. “We want to grow organically, but I’m very happy with the percentage of users,” said Ryan. Their use of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter also help spread knowledge of the site.
Next Three Days is the culmination of Ryan’s appreciation for the area and his desire to see it promoted to the masses, encouraging all to get out there and enjoy it. “I don’t want to leave, this area is great,” Ryan said.
In the interests of full disclosure, The Tartan’s News Editor is currently interning with Next Three Days.
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