Three reasons I know the ExitEvent Startup Social is still valuable, taken from the August 19th Social, our 20th, which is ancient in startup years.
For one, the CD that was playing (yes — it’s a mix CD, old school) glitched and, based on where it froze, no one realized the music had stopped for almost an hour. Me included. That’s how loud and unbroken the conversation in the room was.
The kegs were kicked around 8:30, people stayed. We shoved everyone out of the building at 9:00, people stayed. As I was leaving the parking lot after cleaning up, there were still two small groups of entrepreneurs standing on the sidewalk, under the streetlights, having animated conversations.
And last but certainly not unappreciated, more people than usual thanked me.
But enough about me. Let’s talk about how those things apply to you.
If you’re an entrepreneur and you’ve never been to a Startup Social, it’s always loud. You can hear the buzz from down Broadway and it turns into a dull roar when you walk in the room. And that’s probably the thing I love the most about it.
See, I’ve gone to way too many sorta-startup-focused events and walked into rooms that were dead silent because:
A) Everyone was half-heartedly listening to a speaker who was launching motivational platitudes from a podium and/or makeshift stage.
B) There were a only a couple of entrepreneurs there, and no one else knew who they were.
Are you with me?
On a macro scale, this is pretty much my inspiration for putting together the Social (and the website and everything else about ExitEvent) in the first place.
Everyone says that entrepreneurial communities must be led by the entrepreneurs, but there are, frankly, very few public opportunities for them to lead. Usually, they’re relegated to entertainment value (like public pitches and demo tables and such) or afterthought.
I wanted to change that.
Thus, entrepreneurs lead the Social – they decide how it goes down. They lead this website, pretty much dictating what gets written about in terms of how much value it has to other entrepreneurs (and all of us regular writers are entrepreneurs during the day). Even more entrepreneurs suggest all sorts of ways for ExitEvent to grow, and I listen.
ExitEvent is about entrepreneurs. But it’s also BY entrepreneurs FOR entrepreneurs.
Look, free beer gets people to an event. Free awesome locally-crafted and expertly brewed beer gets a lot of people to an event. Neither makes them stick around.
And that actually speaks to both reasons #2 and #3 above, the ones that let me know ExitEvent is still growing.
I know what I do for the Social, and I appreciate people thanking me for it. But I don’t even verify the entrepreneurs, that’s interns, I schedule it, I ask Erik to bring beer, and I invite and cajole a bunch of you away from your extremely busy schedules for a couple hours once a month.
But I don’t make you stick around. In fact, these days, most of you who attend don’t even know what I look like or what my name is – and that’s just awesome.
I don’t make the event successful. I don’t keep you hanging around until well after dark.
You do that.
The ExitEvent Social is, like any entrepreneur-led entrepreneurial support effort, a self-fulfilling success. As it should be.
If you show up, you’ll get a ton out of it. If you don’t, you won’t. If a bunch of you show up, you’ll get more out of it. If 100+ of you show up, like we’ve been getting, it’ll get really loud and you’ll stay late and finish those conversations because you’re taking away information or perspective you didn’t have before you got there.
That’s why you all show up. That’s why you stick around for more than a free beer. That’s why I keep doing that one small part that I do.
If you missed this one, you have another chance, a can’t-miss chance, in fact, as we head to Chapel Hill on September 16th (and what better time to visit Chapel Hill), for a Startup Social at a top-secret location. A whole bunch of you have already RSVPd, so you know you’re going to get a lot out of it.
That is, if you show up.