Uriri Onovakpuri welcoming the crowd at Kapor Capital Fellows Presentation Day
Lately I’ve been heads down doing customer development, coding and product management over the past few months but over the last six days I came up for air to attend three great events. The first one was TechCrunch Crunchup and August Capital Party. The second was Kapor Capital Fellows Presentation Day and the third was the Google Ventures Summer BBQ. The Google Ventures Summer BBQ and the Kapor Capital Fellows Presentation Day were by invitation but the TechCrunch Crunchup and August Capital Party was just a small investment but worth it to connect with some of well known angel investors and Venture Capitalist firms in Silicon Valley.
It was my second year in a row attending both the TechCrunch Crunchup / August Capital Party and the Google Ventures Summer BBQ. Both events have a sort of it’s August let’s have some fun/celebrate along with let’s see who’s in the room type vibe to it. By the way, I learned last year that not all but “some” Venture Capitalist take the entire month of August off. I’ve heard for various reasons such as the weather, it’s the end of summer or just because they can. Regardless if you’re a startup looking to setup meetings I would skip August. You may be saying but that’s only for Silicon Valley or San Francisco but I was talking the a venture partner who lives in the midwest this week and she was going on vacation starting today.
As for what makes TechCrunch Crunchup / August Capital Party and the Google Ventures Summer BBQ a must attend event for startup founders, it’s the investors. Not only do leading VC firms attend both but associates, analysts and scouts (more on VC firms titles in a later post). Both events are an opportunity to connect over open bars, food and great weather. Note I didn’t say pitch but as I mentioned in my “Angel Investors and Venture Capitalist Are People Too” post event when you’re not pitching you’re always pitching. But at these events the environment is a lot more causal and often you see ycombinator founders or other season entrepreneurs attending. The vibe at the Google Ventures BBQ is a little more close, friends and family atmosphere with a lot of google ventures backed companies or sponsored organizations in a attendance.
Attending theses type events are no guarantee to funding or rewards with any badges or Silicon Valley street creed but when your out networking and key investors keep seeing you at certain events and if you engage with them correctly you never know where it could lead too. It’s all about the relationships.
As for me attending both I learned more about VC community and what tools they use internally. I connected with five new VC firms I didn’t have contact person at, I made a lead with an angel investor, more customer development with seasoned high level entrepreneurs and investors. Along with being about to setup a few meetings. It was a good past six days between events and I was still able to work on some UI and jump in some code but all was not a walk in the park. During the August Capital party I accidentally knocked a cup out of the hand of investor while in front of a few techcrunch writers. I don’t drink so it was me being clumsy. During the google ventures bbq I couldn’t decide if I wanted to approach a founder of a very influential investor platform or not. When I almost made my mind to walk over he got on the phone and then left the event. Luckily I know how to reach him when the time is right. Also during the August Capital event I waited for a break in a conversation to talk with a partner at a very well known VC firm. When I walked over and introduced myself and then stated I was doing customer development and had a question for him. He simply started to laugh and then said let him finish the conversation he was in before someone else had already disrupted the conversation. I was kinda surprised by his “laugh first’ response to beginning of our dialogue. I made a mental note and going to use it as motivation when the time is right. Ironically I saw the same venture capitalist at the google ventures bbq but decided not to try to approach him there.
Overall good times but still tons of work to do. When you’re at events like these it’s easy to get caught up in the Silicon Valley hype. Espcially when you’re at like you can smell the “billions” in the room and you look around and standing next to Twitter, Path and Facebook employees, investors such as Dave McClure, Kevin Rose and partners form greylock partners, andreessen horowitz and the CrunchFund. The way I look at it, until I’m a VC or doing more to invest into future entrepreneurs there’s tons of work to get done.
What are your must attend events to connect with entrepreneurs and venture capitalist?
PS. I did happen in the make it in the instagram photo that Kevin Rose took at the Google Ventures BBQ. Look to the left in stripes.
PS #2. I also had a chance to talk with some of the Google Glasses team.