We attended the TechVibes event the other night at Urban Well. This event is put on by the same crew that puts on the GeekRave events, and is designed to take over where Ideas On Tap left off when IdeaPark imploded. All in all, it was a pretty good event, although the “elevator pitch” competition sucked as usual.
For those unfamiliar with the concept: the idea of an elevator pitch competition is to imagine you step into an elevator only to be faced with the venture capitalist of your dreams. You’ve got thirty to sixty seconds to sell him on your idea during the elevator ride. Go!
Now, you’d think people would probably plan to be able to highlight, at a high level, the market opportunity they’ve identified, the technology they’ve developed to address the opportunity, and the barriers they’ve put in place to prevent others from duplicating their efforts. But do they? Of course not. They talk about who they are, and deliver something akin to a speech delivered by a high school presidential candidate. We’re number one! We’re number one!
Unfortunately, none of the contestants are actually involved in innovative businesses and, that said, don’t really have anything that interesting to offer to begin with. The candidates this time: a local computer store, a business plan preparation service, a cell phone store, and some other equally forgettable characters. When did these things turn into social events for recruiters and secretaries? Where are the real innovators?
Well, to be honest, they’re probably not at this event. People at TechVibes remind me of the guy in Singles that goes to a club to collect phones numbers to fill his new digital watch. People at these drink’n’network events seem to be part of some weird cult obsessed with collecting business cards, rather than trying to build innovative businesses. What do you do with all those cards? Build a small fort?
If you’re really looking to meet interesting people, check out other events like the Vancouver Enterprise Forum networking events, or discussion groups like Fast Company‘s Company of Friends. This is where you’ll find the real innovators trying to build real relationships, which, as pointed out by Mike Volker, will beat out “networking” any day. If you can’t call someone and have them remember you, don’t bother taking their card. Just sit back, enjoy the cheap drinks and stop fooling yourself.