Last year I read in the local rag that Sam Abadir had raised $6 million for appMobi, and it was at 35 East Orange St in downtown Lancaster.
If you know one other startup, one other aspiring founder, set a date, get together, and share your challenges and achievements.
Here are some tips:
- Use Meetup.com. I used Eventbrite until this week. Meetup is sooo much better, and in the week since I started using it the group has added new founders much faster for some reason.
- Promote the night through social media, emails to friends, family, investors, other tech meetups, etc.
- Tell your nearest branch of Ben Franklin Technology Partners
- Pick a day of the month when most people are likely to be able to make it. Friday would be a bad choice.
- Start at 6 or 7; 5 is too early, after 7 is too late.
- Be on time.
- Schedule it for an hour and a half to two hours. If people see 3 hours, they might not come, but people will tend to stay two to three hours.
- Founders only–no investors, lawyers, vendors, employees, bankers or cops. At some point it makes sense to invite a guest speaker, and maybe even to have a show and tell event where you invite local investors, press, etc. We’re just about at that point here in Lancaster.
- What happens in fight club stays in fight club. That means don’t tell people outside of the group about the challenges of one founder or another. Respect confidentiality.
- Be open about your challenges and feel free to share anything.
- Be ethical.
- Typically we order dinner–each is responsible for their own bill.
- Make sure the staff knows you’re getting separate checks. (crucial!)
- Pick a venue with a back room or quiet space. If there’s music on, ask them to turn it off so you can hear each other without shouting.
- Beer is encouraged but not required. Have some. Not too much.
- Occasionally have someone demo their stuff. But not often–it can really cut into networking time.
- Have each founder introduce themselves with a description of what their startup does and one or two challenges they currently face.
- Break into small groups to talk about challenges–no more than 4 per group. 3 is ideal.
- Come back together and share what you’ve learned
- Don’t let any one person dominate (especially the organizer)
- Be generous with your advice.
- Swap out leaders.
- Tip the staff.
- Do it again next month.
- Let me know if you’ve started something — I’m happy to join you sometime, and I bet others in our group would as well to help you get going.