The profitable business of taking money from startups

Under the guise of fostering innovation, guys like The Life Sciences and Healthcare Venture Summit, who spammed me today are happily taking money from entrepreneurs and offering a tax deductible day out of the office in return. Perhaps I’m inspired by Jason Calcanis’s recent jihad against investors that charge you to pitch, but these high cost ‘for-the-startup-community’ events are a waste of time and money and something that’s been grating me for some time now.

The event above charges you $595 for early registration. It’s a one day event. If they net 5000 suckers, that’s $2,975,000 in revenue. Host an event every 2 months and you’re into a more than $17 million dollar business.

Have you ever tried to elevator pitch an investor at a startup ‘networking’ event? Don’t!

Have you ever learned anything new at a startup event? Sure you have, but you’re surrounded by your competitors and the instant it hits everyone else’s ears it’s useless to you as a potential differentiator. And it’ll be all over Techmeme tomorrow anyway.

Real networking is done one on one. It’s not about handing out business cards and expecting a few ‘hits’. It’s about investing your time and talent in people and their businesses. One day they may have an opportunity to return the favor, but there’s never any expectation. Relationships are built through shared experiences, not by breathing the air someone else recently finished with.

Real innovation is done by doing it. You don’t create something new by getting a history lesson in a crowded room.

The really useful data is found where everyone else isn’t looking. Have you ever looked at the wealth of excellent government data out there? Did you know there are huge cults of quilting and scrap-booking blogging communities out there?