This is a guest post by McElroy Flavelle aka Mack. Mack was an enthusiastic participant of our last event. If you have blog posts to share with the wider community, please contact us. We’d love to have more guest bloggers.
I recently had the opportunity to attend the first ever Co Founder Speed Dating.
I assume that sounds as weird to you as it did to me.
Though the concept seemed strange, I had heard great things about the folks at Bootup Labs and they threw the event. On top of that I planned on attending Launch Party 7 which was held immediately after in the same venue, so making it out to speed dating was really a no brainer.
Before the speed dating started we were treated to a ten minute presentation by John Goodwin about how to find the right co founder. John showed us how to identify our own strengths and weaknesses and how to find people who would complement our skill sets. I found the whole presentation quite informative but one part in particular really stuck out for me. John said…
“Our culture has been shaped so that you go to school, get educated and learn about the world. You also learn about yourself. And when you’re done school they hand you a sheet of paper. On one side is a list of everything you’re good at, your skills and aptitudes. On the other side is a list of everything you’re bad at. The idea is that you spend the rest of your professional career improving the things you’re bad at.
Surround yourself with people you trust and who can cover your back. Then never think about your weaknesses again. Your job is to take your strengths, and make them even stronger. Become the best possible at whatever you’re good at.”
For me personally that nugget of wisdom alone made the speed dating worth while.
THE MAIN EVENT
Before the event the Bootup Entrepreneurial Society had set up a small social network that allowed you to talk about yourself and introduce yourself to other people. Part of the site was a profile check box to indicate which people you would be interested in meeting. This could be loosely compared to a Facebook friend request or Twitter follower but within the context of a much smaller, much more focused network. Once the speed dating actually got started my worry was there seemed to be no reference to these “like-to-meets” and I was concerned about the relevance of the people I was going to sit down with.
Luckily my fears were unfounded. Just like me, everybody who wanted to meet somebody specific had made their own list and people were looking for each other. I didn’t need an official date with Mike Woods to recognize that we had common ground and needed to chat. Same with Ben Hesketh (and many others.) After the structured schedule was done I sat down and had a beer with each of them. Since then I’ve been able to connect with both and have third meetings already set up. From my perspective, I didn’t need to be chaperoned through a new relationship- I just needed a reason to meet and a place to do it and that’s what speed dating provided.
Did everybody there love the Internet, Casual Games and Social Psychology? Absolutely not. So yes there was a date or two with somebody I had nothing to say to, but there was also 11 dates with fascinating, exciting and inspiring people. These are people that could enrich my professional life and I can honestly say I wouldn’t have met outside of this context. Therein lies the power of Co Founder Speed Dating.
For me personally, this event was an absolute success.
I have had six different follow up meetings with people I met at speed dating. These are people that met me, talked to me and were so excited by my ideas that they wanted to get together again, and chat even more about the things I love. Considering I didn’t know these people existed 10 days ago speed dating was very good for my professional network.
Did I find a co founder already? Of course not. Running a start up is the economic equivalent of a marriage and I’m not hopping into bed with any body that quick. (I guess I’m just not that kind of guy!) On the other hand I did find people who are exciting and motivational and who I expect I will be working with in the very near future. Will we take down Google together… I’m not sure. But will we have an iPhone game in the app store in three months… Undoubtedly.
I’m not sure what Bootup can do for the next event to make it better. Everything ran smoothly and a good time was had by all but I suspect if I go to the next one there will be many of the same people sitting around the tables and at this point I’ve either ruled them out or am already looking forward to working with them. None the less, I will certainly check out whatever event the Boot Up Entrepreneurial Society puts on next, regardless of what that is, as they seem to do a stand up job of connecting people who care about the things I do.
The Bootup Labs home page says “We are working hard to grow the technology ecosystem in Vancouver” and that’s exactly what this event did.