Every day (literally), I get an email from someone asking me to introduce them to investors, advisors, and co-founders. We’re building StartupList and AngelList to handle the intros to investors.

For intros to advisors and co-founders, I always tell people to sign up for [Startup Digest] — a weekly curated list of the best events in 27 cities — and start going to lots of events.

Good things happen to you at events

I don’t go to a lot of events anymore because I “wouldn’t be here working.” But I went to a lot of events when I moved to Silicon Valley 5 years ago. And great things happened to me at these events. I met Mike Arrington and ended up crashing at his place for a few months when I had no place to stay and very little money. I was re-introduced to David Cowan and ended up working with him as an EIR at Bessemer.

Going to an event can create its own luck. From the archive of the blogger formerly known as pmarca (a.k.a. Marc Andreessen):

“In Chance II, something else has been added — motion.

“Years ago, when I was rushing around in the laboratory [conducting medical research], someone admonished me by asking, “Why all the busyness? One must distinguish between motion and progress”.

“Yes, at some point this distinction must be made. But it cannot always be made first. And it is not always made consciously. True, waste motion should be avoided. But, if the researcher did not move until he was certain of progress he would accomplish very little…

“A certain [basic] level of action “stirs up the pot”, brings in random ideas that will collide and stick together in fresh combinations, lets chance operate.

Events are the place to meet people who won’t meet with you

People who aren’t available over email or one-on-one go to events to make themselves available. Mark Suster writes,

“One area where I have made in-roads is in the “I’d like to buy you a coffee for 15 minutes and get some career advice” emails from people I don’t know. I really do like to help people so in the early days I took some of these. I simply can’t fit in the time any more. So I often advise these people to find me at a conference and I promise to spend time with them there. I’ve already allocated that time as “general networking time.” I’ve developed a system for the polite “no” in this context.”

Sure, we would all like to get a 30-minute phone call with Mark, but I think you form a deeper psychological bond if you can talk to him for 10 minutes in person.

So if you’re looking for intros to advisors and co-founders, sign up for [Startup Digest], start going to events, and create some luck.

Topics Conferences

11 comments · Show

  • Alain Raynaud

    Totally agree: Geeks especially need to go out and meet people. Your startup will be much better off. Also, don’t freak out about confidentiality: you should be able to describe your startup in general terms and not be scared that someone will steal your idea.

    I’ll add a quick timely note: If you want to meet co-founders in Silicon Valley, I organize the co-founders meetup. The next event is on March 11 (next Thursday). We have 100 people looking to network to find co-founders. Just Google “co-founders meetup of Silicon Valley.”

    • chris

      Totally agree, meeting people face to face is the most important thing you can do. That’s how you build real connections. And anyone looking for a co-founder should check out the Co-Founders Meetup, it was in the Silicon Valley [Startup Digest] and I recommend it!

    • Jon

      Hi Alain,

      I added ‘March 11’ to what you said to Google and it helped me find the event. I’m excited with what you’re doing and I look forward to attending the event.



  • Rebecca

    I’m surprised Madison, Wisconsin isn’t one of the cities included. I’d be happy to help create the digest for Madison if you want. We have a thriving startup scene (but maybe I’m biased because I work for one).

  • Gagan Biyani

    This is great. StartupList is fantastic and an endorsement from VentureHacks is even better.

    Events are also a great way to test your pitch. You’ll provide your one-to-ten sentence pitch so many times it’ll make your head explode. But it’ll be worth it, because next time you meet someone important (either via e-mail, phone, or hopefully in person), you’ll have it down pat and will make a much better first impression.

  • Sheraan Amod

    I’m the curator of Cape Town [Startup Digest]. In-person events definitely help people to connect and develop rapport much more easily than via the Web.

    It’s both weird and wonderful how much tech-centric people like us enjoy organizing physical industry events (read: meetups) when we also do so much online.

    Events literally changed my life. Unlike the traditional “longtime friends” stories of founders, I met my co-founder at a conference and we came up with our startup idea there. Two years later and going strong!

  • Mahdi Abdulrazak

    Nice initiative. I would like to suggest adding the following European cities to the list: Amsterdam, Brussels and Berlin. There are many annual startup events happening in those cities.

  • John Philip Green

    It’s funny for me to read this after meeting Mark Suster at LeadsCon a few weeks ago and having a great chat. He was very approachable, and seemed to like talking about our business and lots else. Great post as usual, Nivi! I wouldn’t know you if it weren’t for meeting at an event a couple years ago.

  • Ruchit Garg

    Totally agree on needs of events. We have recently compiled a list of start events happening in India (might be a good source of your audience in India): http://eventnu.com/blog/2010/03/01/startup-events-in-india/

  • Jon

    “I met Mike Arrington and ended up crashing at his place for a few months when I had no place to stay and very little money.”

    I’d love to hear more about this! Stories like this are very encouraging and inspiring to myself, and undoubtedly many, many others. I love AngelList and VentureHacks and would enjoy hearing more about its history and yours!