Much of what we do as startup community builders requires in-person interactions through workshops, meetups, and other events. But the Covid pandemic pushed the big pause button on in-person events that are the beating heart of many startup communities.
Peter Cimino in Buffalo sent in a great question as part of the Insights from the Field campaign series of articles, asking:
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING DURING COVID TIMES TO KEEP THE COMMUNITY ENGAGED?”
The responses varied considerably. While some have scaled back significantly and are focusing their energies elsewhere, others have been very creative and resourceful, pivoting and standing up new programs to connect and engage the startup community.
Peter Cimino shared the challenges they and many others face. “We have truly struggled with this, many people are on Zoom (or similar platform) for work and family so going to another event/meetup on these platforms after hours/before hours/weekends isn’t easy. So we have trimmed a lot down, and have only done 3 things in 2020 as opposed to 20 events in 2019. We did enjoy doing a much needed online Happy Hour and we also did our annual award ceremony and both were well attended but less than we hoped for. Looking for some good ideas for 2021 from our group!”
Here in Sacramento, our organization, StartupSac, barely missed a beat, pivoting all of our monthly in-person events to Zoom. Despite the Zoom fatigue that Peter mentions, we’ve had great success, welcoming increased numbers to our monthly Office Hours event where we have a presentation on a relevant startup subject, as well as our Startup Happy Hour where we have an interview chat with a successful entrepreneur then open it up to Q&A. We also pivoted a planned in-person, half day showcase event to three separate virtual events, bringing over 260 people in the community together.
Jordan Walbesser, also in Buffalo, has also taken advantage of digital platforms. “We’re leaning heavily on our digital platforms to keep the community engaged. Our…