Monday night was the 29th(!) ExitEvent Startup Social, and by 5:45 p.m. on what turned out to be an fantastic evening, weather-wise, entrepreneurs and investors started trickling in to FullSteam brewery in downtown Durham.
A few were already there. For example, Craig Stone from Triangle Angel Partners had even taken the liberty of scheduling a couple meetings at FullSteam beforehand, and was chatting with Zenph’s Kirk Owen (formerly of Merscom and Playdom as well), when I arrived.
It was Owen’s first Social. He said it won’t be his last.
FullSteam turned out to be a great location — walking distance for about 20 independently-housed startups, not to mention all the folks from American Underground and AU @Main who were also within a short, pleasant walk. As has been the case with every venue thus far, everyone at FullSteam was incredibly nice and accommodating.
Local is part of the charm, so to speak. When I started ExitEvent, I made it a priority to integrate the event and the site with any willing local vendor, to any extent it made sense.
Thus, we still use Adzerk for ad-serving and Argyle Social for social media. For the first 20-or-so Startup Socials, we exclusively poured Mystery Brewing beer (before they could even sell it), and we’re thinking of going to their Public House for April’s Social. ExitEvent was a beta customer of BoostSuite, I got initial digital marketing help from MethodSavvy, and we just started using Contactology to eventually replace those all-text emails you get for Startup Social invites and the weekly newsletter.
That will be awesome, because that part of ExitEvent is some of my most horrible coding.
With the acquisition of ExitEvent behind me, and the transition not only going smoothly but already starting to pay dividends, I’ve gotten wrapped up in another mission. This isn’t a startup, there’s enough work at Automated Insights to keep me extremely busy for decades. This is a mission, something I’m passionate about making happen.
But, much like I started ExitEvent strictly because I wanted to build a stronger startup community, I know I will run this mission like a second, smaller startup.
I’ve actually been churning on ideas for a while now. I’ve immersed myself in the industry, even spending time hands-on doing exactly what it is I want to disrupt. I feel like I’m ready to go from idea to execution.
And what better way to get started than at an ExitEvent Startup Social.
So that’s exactly what I did on Monday night, and I got more momentum in three hours than I had generated over the last three months.
There’s a local startup, one that has already seen some initial success, who has a product I believe in. It’s also something I think I can use, and I also think I can provide them a benefit in terms of some heavy, real-life testing of some potential new features.
At the Social, I was able to explain to the founder of this startup exactly what I wanted to do, and within ten minutes he was on board and we were talking about all the ways we could work together.
Then I had a similar conversation with a founder of another company with a product that most people don’t even know exists yet. But like the other startup, I knew that the product could help me and I knew I could help them. Same thing — we talked, and we’re both pretty excited.
Then — and here’s the beautiful part of the Startup Social — I was able to bring both of those founders together, we refreshed our beers, and we started talking synergy between the three products.
I thought to myself: Where else would this happen? When would each of the three of us ridiculously busy people make the time to line up our schedules and have a conversation, in person, to discuss possibilities?
I’d have been shocked, but it’s not the first time I’ve seen this happen at the Startup Social, nor is it the first time I’ve been a part of the conversation.
It’s also not the only thing I accomplished Monday night. I was also able to:
- Get a quick recap of SXSW from WedPics‘ Justin Miller.
- Get the download of what’s going on in the Charlotte startup scene from AutoPilot’s Ben Lee.
- Line up three more articles for my “A Beer With” TechWire series.
- Let almost everyone I talked to know Automated Insights is on the lookout for Ruby developer, a data scientist, and one more summer intern.
- Catch a lot of people up on Ai’s upcoming appearance at Google Demo Day and our move to the ball park.
- All while enjoying a couple free, delicious, locally-crafted beers.
So it’s not always the agenda that matters — it’s the agenda you bring with you. And with startup, being in the right place at the right time isn’t just about your final success, it can be about the initial successes as well.
It was my hope that the Startup Social would be a monthly right place/right time scenario, maybe not for everyone, but for a few each time. When I have nights like I had Monday, I know it’s still on the right track.