Tech Circus – My inspired proposal to Knight Cities
About a year ago I submitted my proposal for the Knight Cities Challenge. Documented below and in the screen I tweeted here.
I believe Tech Circus is an important strategy communities can use to drive a startup ecosystem. I have been to dozens of these type events, and they are most often driven by the event producers agenda. My pitch is to make showing up prepared job one, and to make sure the non-startup players are present.
Much of this was inspired what what I saw happen in one room, on one night in Charlotte where Jim Roberts @redspireusnc was running his firstround dot org project. The what I saw was simple, a bunch of people schmoozing, but two people were actually doing demos using laptops and in once case a wap-phone to showcase their mid-built developments. The moral, everyone wanted to see the real demos and no one was interested in “pitches”.
Show up monthly to beta your tech-baby? Tech Circus is where the conversation occurs. Make it here, make it anywhere, but show up prepared.
Put these people at once in a room and magic happens: Entrepreneurs, talent, media, customers, and investors. Think hamfest for ideas. Cheap tables, announced event space, geek cultural party mindset, and for customer-startup matching, a dash of speed dating.
Most startup events are designed to line some ones pockets. Instead give founders the tiny stage and event-incentive of a demo table while subduing the moneyed interest of the event organizers, and you have seeded the time-space for the right conversations to occur.
Keep the alcohol out. Invite the media in. Advertise next month by promoting last months successes with the goal of creating THE room, not just a room.
The meme for the founders is to show up prepared. It’s my demo vs. your demo. Look at THAT business leader (customer) at THEIR table. Just a whisper of a conversation to drive dreams, opportunities, and yes, progress.
At Tech Circus everyone learns. But everyone also pulls and drinks water.
Entrepreneurs give demos. To succeed here is to create traction. To win they have to first learn what they are doing wrong. Their ultimate win is customers and commitments.
Customers are attracted to the talent pool, the ideas, and the media. They learn bleeding edge tech and let startups pull them forward. When customers make commitments or when they recruit, that is their in.
Investors watch the action for traction. They monitor customers’ engagement. And they get to see entrepreneurs with customers. They can see market excitement, one step out of the lab.
Talent. Well a room full of geeks is career fodder. Talent is the tier-2 pitch.
Media are the grease. They amplify traction, markets, conversations, and people. The exciting content of startups, tech, deals, and demos, that is their trade.
Charlotte, or a few cities trial, and then scale national. The key is that the event organizer needs to be a disassociated party, possibly a not-for-profit.