But even with all that history and all the noise that I've made about the value of the Social over the last three years, the message still doesn't get as far as I'd like. No agenda? No speeches? No name tags?
"Well, what the hell do you do there?"
The uniqueness of the Social is the fact that you can strike up a conversation with the person next to you and chances are almost 100% that said person is an entrepreneur or an investor. I can't make that guarantee at a place like Fullsteam because we're not closing it down or anything like that (that would be a very un-ExitEvent move). But here are the five types of people you'll be talking to at Monday's Social -- and why you should be talking to them.
Active EntrepreneursI can't tell you how many entrepreneurs helped me or advised me or otherwise lent their time and talent to ExitEvent. But the same holds true for the help we've received at Automated Insights (the VC-backed, customer-filled startup where I've been for nearly four years).
Even with all the smart, connected people on board at Ai, we rely on advice, introductions, and have even received consulting from other entrepreneurs in their various areas of expertise.
Got a question or an issue or a concern? Chances are at least one other person at the Social has something similar they've gone through or are going through right now.
Inactive EntrepreneursSome of the entrepreneurs at the Social have either exited or are otherwise between projects. These people are invaluable because, as an entrepreneur, if you're not heads-down working on something, you're usually dabbling in a dozen other things trying to figure out your next move.
This is your chance to be dabbled in -- get some extra help, some advice, some time from someone who's been there.
Investors Who Aren't Interested In YouIt goes without saying you want to talk to investors who might be interested in your startup, but you also want to talk to investors who might not be interested in your startup. Again, the connections and advice here can be gold (can be, not always, buyer beware). Investors are usually open to helping out entrepreneurs at any stage.
I actually met Robbie Allen (StatSheet founder, this would go on to become Automated Insights), via David Jones and Jason Caplain from Southern Capitol Ventures (and now Bull City Venture Partners as well), who knew we should be put together. I've relied on advice from investors like that for years, whether they've put money in or not.
Establish relationships. Not everything in startup happens overnight.
Job SeekersIt's a little-known fact that I've been allowing job seekers into the Social, provided they're looking to work for a startup exclusively. Hires have been made through the Social, and it's nice not to have to have that "you know how hard it is to work at a startup" conversation.
ExitEvent WritersNot so little known fact, but I'm always surprised more entrepreneurs don't take advantage of this. There are usually at least three or four ExitEvent writers are at any given Social.
It's definitely not a time to put an article together -- it's too loud and there's too much beer. But Laura is always looking for stories, leads, profiles, news, and, most importantly, relationships.
So that's what you do. Certainly, I've seen deals get done and people get hired and partnerships get created and companies get formed at the Social, but the best part about being there is establishing and maintaining relationships with people who can and will help you when you need it.