Question: I want to start a startup founders group in my city. What types of activities should I include in the program?
Question by: Courtney
Hackathons Help Everyone
"What better way to recruit some of the best startup founders in an area than to incentivize them with an opportunity to code with their local community? Hackathons can bring together enough brainpower to generate an amazing new startup company in just a day. It's all about networking and applying your collective knowledge and skills. "
Lessons on Entrepreneurship
"While each lesson may not attract a full audience, the idea is to develop the group into this constant exchange of experiences and thoughts. You may also bring in guest speakers to share their expertise because ultimately with the startup founders group, you want to meet great entrepreneurs and learn the things that have made them successful."
Intimate Networking Events
"Big meetups can be effective, but don't overlook opportunities to cultivate deeper relationships among startup founders with smaller get-togethers too. Some of the most helpful startup support can come from members helping other members with strategic problem-solving or important partnership introductions. With smaller, more curated groups of entrepreneurs, those relationships can begin."
Bites and Beverages
"If nobody knows who you are or what your business offers users, then I suggest offering a little more for people who decide to come or join. I find food and drinks are a great way to "break-the-ice" and allows people to network within your group freely. Think of it like a first date!"
Group Brainstorming Sessions
"Honest feedback is essential for startups and is, unfortunately, difficult to find. If you can assemble a group of entrepreneurs that meet regularly and serve as a sounding board and brainstorming group for each other, it can be incredibly valuable. Since everyone else is an entrepreneur, you'll avoid the dreaded smile and nod we all know too well."
Quick Pitches and Presentations
"One of the things I loved about the startup founders groups that I have attended is hearing the quick pitches and/or presentations from the other founders. It is great practice to talk about what you do and often, it can prompt another founder to think about partnership possibilities or uncover things you may not have thought of."
Don't Forget the Fun
"There are plenty of networking groups and events that are about learning, sharing trade secrets anddoing business development—however, there's a big void for "fun" groups for CEOs and startup founders that's not being filled. By incorporating fun activities, startup founders will come to get rid of the proverbial entrepreneurs' loneliness and have fun with those who are in same boat."
Extreme Activities for Extreme Results
"Group brainstorming sessions, drinks and dinners are all fine and dandy, but to really accelerate relationships, plan some intense activities for the group: paintball, snowmobiling, indoor skydiving or something else. Getting people out of their comfort zone and out of their mundane routines is the key."
"Ideas are great, but execution is what makes a business succeed. Every new entrepreneur needs to understand the nuts-and-bolts of running a business. When you are starting your group, make sure to bring in subject-matter experts who can educate the founders on what's needed for success, such as lawyers and accountants."
Play the Wine Game
"Get a group of entrepreneurs around a table. Crack a bottle of vino, and have everyone write down descriptions of the wine. No matter how many people are there, you will find very little overlap in peoples descriptions. Point out to the group that there are no correct or incorrect answers. See where the conversation goes from there. It's a great way to quickly find the confident members as well."
Closed, Invite-Only Group
"Standard networking groups get watered down quickly. Start by finding ten interesting entrepreneurs who can be the founding members. Tell them that it's their job to invite people that they would want to talk to over dinner. Allow people to apply, but have real criteria on how they are accepted. Choose a closed space and don't announce meeting time and places publicly."
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.