Will This Startup Event Suck?
Being a new entrepreneur in a big tech scene like the Bay Area, Boston or NYC is tough. And it's even tougher when you occasionally find yourself at startup events that suck, listening to a bunch of lawyers on a panel try to avoid saying anything interesting, after which the group breaks down into networking, which for you consists of being cornered by a gaggle of "social media gurus" as they try to impress each other while you choke down $8 beers you bought from a surly 'tender who really wishes all you tech dweebs would leave so there would be actual women at his bar once again. But you can't totally avoid startup events. Young entrepreneurs can make good contacts even at the mediocre ones. For people who are new to the scene, it's about being discerning enough to avoid the events that will make you puncture your eardrums and gouge your eyes out. It's about asking "Will this startup event suck?"
Since we're not afraid to be servicey, I've created a handy rubric to separate the good from the bad from the ugly. Fill it out before RSVPing to any startup or tech event:
The event is coordinated by a(n): Venture Capitalist (+40 points) Entrepreneur (+20 points) Service Provider (0 points) Rando (-5 points) Government Official (-10 points)
The event takes place in a(n): Hot startup's roof deck (+30 points) VC or service provider's office (+15 points) Bar, restaurant or auditorium (+10 points) Other company's office (0 points) Warehouse in Brooklyn (Determine phase of moon, +1 for each night past waxing gibbous)
The event is: Free, with drinks and food (+20 points) Free (+10 points) ~$10 with drink ticket (+5 points) ~$10 (0 points) >$20 (-5 points)
The event is framed as: A soiree or social (+15 points) A speaker, panel or demos (+10 points) A party (+5 points) A happy hour (+5 points) Networking (-5 points)
The event is primarily promoted via: A private invite list (+30 points) Large email lists and groups (+15 points) Meetup.com (+10 points) GarysGuide (+5 points) Craigslist (-5 points)
The stated connection among attendees is: Unstated/Awesomeness (+15 points) University, company, or firm (+10 points) "Tech" (or subsector) (+5 points) "Startups" (0 points) "Business" (-10 points)
New York Only: If you can see the attendee list, add five points for each person in SAI's Silicon Alley 100 on the list.
> 200 Points: Congrats on getting invited to Founders' Club. 100 - 200 Points: Can you add me as your +1? 50 - 100 Points: Worth a shot. Bring your business cards. 0 - 50 Points: Don't you have a startup to run, or something? < 0 Points: I hope you like spending the evening downing $12 cocktails while listening to someone try to sell you servers.
Feel free to run your favorite startup event through this as a gut check, and leave the results in the comments.