Brad Hargreaves had a phenomenal post on his blog yesterday. The core of it was a warning that succumbing to the groupthink of tech circles will hamper innovation, and lead you to develop your products for the wrong customers.
I agree with what Brad posted. The tech scene can be a succubus eager to suck down your time and innovation. It’s easy to adapt your business to the ideas of whatever big-shot graces you with his thoughts. No matter how experienced or tech-famous they are, however, you can never please everybody. Think about how many investors pass on companies that eventually get funding. Even the pros aren’t always right. Don’t compromise your vision.
This post won’t be a rant on scene issues, but is more to say why the scene can be a beautiful thing, if you have the self control to avoid it consuming you. As a solo founder, the NYC tech scene has been a source of inspiration and support. This may not be as important to a small team of founders bunkered down, working on the next big thing, but for me, the opportunity to get feedback from my peers and from tech veterans is invaluable. Take what everybody says with a grain of salt, but take it regardless. Quite bluntly, without the tech scene, I would know so much less about the tech industry, and peculiarities surrounding it.
Avoid going starry-eyed and getting excited over tech celebrities. They got there by working hard and smart, and you can too.
Be honest in your feedback to others. Politeness often comes off as brown-nosing. Don’t be afraid to disagree or call somebody’s baby ugly. If they have half a brain and you have good points, they’ll thank you for it.
It’s not a beauty pageant. Know what you want out of an event before going. Being a social butterfly is useless without actual progress on your business. The scene is your support network, not your business.
So you want to be a tech scenester? Here are a few great resources to find out what goes on every week.
StartupDigest – Top notch tech/hacker/entrepreneur event mailing list.
This Week in NYC Innovation (NYC only) – Charlie O’Donnell’s weekly newsletter on what’s going on in the upcoming week. The only subscription email that I open every time.
Meetup.com – Tried and true. Pick a few decent niche events to get instant community around what you care about.
There are other ways to find events as well, but the 3 above provide plenty of opportunity to me. Turning into a networking junkie just serves to waste your time. Focus on building a killer business and people will want to talk with you about it.