When I arrived at Crank Arm Brewing last Monday night, a half-hour prior to the start of the November ExitEvent Startup Social, I was greeted by an awesome sight.
I mean besides all the taps and such.
There were four entrepreneurs and one investor I recognized immediately who were there for the Social, already halfway into a pint.
Or at least I hoped they were there for the Social.
So I checked – did they get the time wrong? Was this just happy coincidence? Did they start their own event?
I mean, people show up early, but never a half-hour early.
Nope. Turns out most of them didn’t have far to go anyway, and since they were knocking off early to go to the Social, and since entrepreneurs never knock off early, they figured they might as well go all in and knock off a little earlier. So they were just already there, hanging out and enjoying a pint.
A pint I wasn’t paying for.
Which means, in essence, they didn’t wait for me, or ExitEvent, or 200 other entrepreneurs, or for their beer to be free. They just showed up and started talking. Most of them were meeting for the first time.
This has implications. Almost all of them good.
By 6:15 we had packed Crank Arm, which, in its expanse, is pretty hard to pack. It was a nice night, so we had folks out on the patio. The music was awesome, like I had picked it myself, and there were several new entrepreneurs there — not just new to the Social, but founders I had never met before, even though I knew their companies.
And during the conversational melee and the brief moments outside taking in the skyline and even while I was walking the block back to my car once all was said and done at about 9:00 or so, I realized something.
I kind of miss Raleigh, for the first time in a long time.
I lived in Raleigh for almost ten years. I lived in Cameron Village, to be exact, and pretty much called what was downtown at the time home. Later on, when I started my proto-product-framework and services startup, my biggest client was downtown, and I was there a couple times a week for over a year.
A couple years ago, I asked Raleigh one of the first public “where the hell are you going with the startup thing” questions, and got some relatively optimistic answers.
That’s coming to fulfillment.
Our first few Socials in Raleigh were at HQ Raleigh, and we packed it each time. But the crowd of 100 to 150 (hard to count in a public place — I mean, is that guy an entrepreneur or just a hipster?) was different this time.
There were a bunch of people who came over from HQ Raleigh, which makes sense because they’re moving down there, next month I believe, into the same Warehouse District that Crank Arm calls home. There were a number of people from Durham and Chapel Hill. There were more than just a handful of women founders there, I’d say about 20-25%.
I mentioned in the preview that change was coming, even if just as small as a change of scenery. This is because entrepreneurs don’t like doing the same thing, talking to the same people, or going to the same place every day.
And now that Raleigh and Durham (and even Chapel Hill), are starting to refer to themselves more and more as “the Triangle,” it makes sense for entrepreneurs to get up and get out to another point on that Triangle from time to time.
We keep interacting like that, and this area will be unstoppable.