About a week ago, I got the “elistist” tag hung on me again publicly (and anonymously) in regards to the ExitEvent Startup Social being limited to verified entrepreneurs and investors. It was the first time in a long time, and it bugs me exactly as much now as it did then, which is zero.
And by zero I mean a little. Not in a “feelings” way but in a “you’ve got the wrong idea” way.
The 19th iteration of the ExitEvent Startup Social is this Tuesday, July 16th, at the Mystery Brewing Public House in downtown Hillsborough. It starts at 6:00 and it goes until the brewpub closes. If you’re an entrepreneur or investor, if you work for a startup, or if you want to work for a startup, I gently implore you to come out to the Social Tuesday night.
Sign up. Give us enough info to get you verified. Show up. It’s that easy. If you’re not an entrepreneur or investor, sign up anyway, let us know who you are, and we’ll hopefully provide you value anyway.
It’s a hike from Raleigh and even a good distance from Durham, but so far over 70 entrepreneurs and investors have signed up to make the drive for no other reason than to talk to each other.
We’ve had Socials in Durham, Raleigh, Chapel Hill, and Charlotte. We get about 100-200 entrepreneurs and investors at each, and we live by the credo: No selling, no speeches, no name tags, no bullshit.
Now, to be honest, I’m still kind of mystified as to why someone would consider a roomful of broke entrepreneurs talking about their problems an elite event. Maybe I’ve been doing this for too long, but to me that’s akin to calling an AA meeting or a plumber’s convention or a Ruby developers meetup an elite event.
Startup is thankless, risky, sometimes stupid, mostly boring hard work. Startup is not a party. Startup is not a lifestyle.
Don’t get me wrong. I feel terrible when someone feels excluded. I totally get that. But I’ll tell you something else, these elitist blasts almost always sound like a reaffirmation of the exact reason I started the Social in the first place.
There are plenty, and I mean plenty of other, better startup-related events in the Triangle that anyone can go to. Some of them, like the big, catered parties, are much more fun. Some of them, like the speaker or workshop events, are much more educational. I would even venture to say that some of them, like Triangle Startup Weekend and Tech Jobs Under the Big Top, are much more useful.
The ExitEvent Startup Social is way useful, but it’s mainly just useful to the entrepreneurs, and it maximizes that usefulness. I call it an anti-networking event because it’s designed to be too loud, too unfocused, and too laid back to get any business done.
Thus I’ve created multiple points of contact on this website by which anyone can be a part of this startup community without having to shout their sales pitch over the Foo Fighters.
By the way, try being a recruiter walking into a Ruby developers meetup. It sounds like a great idea, but they resent that.
Now, here’s the cautionary tale. There used to be plenty of startup-related events that purported to cater to startups that didn’t limit the attendance to entrepreneurs. I have firsthand experience here because I used to attend these events until it quickly became obvious that the only people showing up weren’t entrepreneurs.
Then the people who weren’t entrepreneurs stopped showing up because the only people showing up weren’t entrepreneurs.
Those events eventually all went away.
That’s why I started the Social. And it’s not like I figured out a secret ingredient. It ties in with the ExitEvent Social credo, the no speakers, no selling, no name tags part. I want everyone who comes to the Social to be focused on the same thing, treated with the same respect, and be worth interacting with.
That way I don’t have to have live bands and spinach rolls and giveaways and crap like that to get entrepreneurs to get together once a month.