I had a fun day yesterday, attending a meeting at Columbia University during lunch then heading down later in the day to Charlie O'Donnell's Not A Pitch meeting. Both of these were terrific (hence the fun day) and I learned a lot. And, in loose conversations, it's always fun to say "I'm heading up to Columbia" and "I'm meeting with a VC".
But the really great thing about these events was their accessibility. The Columbia meeting was something specific and the Not A Pitch meeting was an idea-generating, information-gathering session. Both were free, were easy to get to, and they provided terrific feedback about people's ideas.
Have an idea but not sure if it's any good? Here are two places you can get some direct, free feedback.
If you ever have the chance to get up to the Columbia University campus, do it. It's a great walk around and there's a lot of energy there. The campus is beautiful.
I met with a member of the Columbia Engineering school and talked through some logistical and structural ideas.
Alex's feedback was tremendous. And it didn't end there. Scheduling a follow-on appointment along with some additional resources to read through was super helpful.
Cost: $5.00 (Subway) Time: 1 Hour
Not A Pitch
The fact that a VC would stand / sit in front of a room of people and talk them through their ideas from a VC / advisor perspective is incredible. I can't tell you how invigorating a meeting like this can be.
A few fun points:
- It's hard to get a meeting with a VC but there's Charlie in front of the room talking to 30 or 40 people and giving them feedback. Tremendous!
- There are a lot of good ideas out there. These folks are working hard to make our lives better. It's really fun to hear what people are doing and how they are approaching it.
- The discussion is fascinating. Here's my idea. Here's my feedback. All out in the open for everyone to hear, judge, react. Crazy cool.
- It's a warmup. If you have an idea or something that's in beta or something that's launched and you are looking for funding or an advisory role but aren't quite ready to take the plunge, this is a terrific way to be in a meeting without being in that meeting. As Charlie says: "It's a no lose situation!".
- Delivery. As a "just watcher" attendee, and someone who builds communications and marketing programs, I was excited to hear the pitches (you were given 1-2 minutes) given by these folks about their ideas. Some nailed it (FasterPants - Nice!) and others struggled a bit. Delivering your message is hard. But when you nail it, it's an incredible feeling.
If you're in New York and are at all interested in business and ideas and growth and people, check out the Not A Pitch event.
Cost: Free Time: 2 Hours
Oh, the bonus was I walked down to Charlie's event, which meant I walked through Lincoln Center. Love this place.
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