TechCocktail Startup Mixology 2011 DC took place on June 16th, 2011. The event started with a basic session and eased into it’s pace. The conference was a good mix of positive stories, and handled failures. Twice the sessions broke into panel discussion, mostly to cover issues which were farther afield from running a start-up. These were in many cases legal and financial issues which could be considered any start-up’s riskiest issues.
TechCocktail DC was emceed by Frank Gruber, CEO and Jen Consalvo, COO. They were able to keep the pace of the event quick and refreshing, and came across as enthusiastic. Their direct and open style made the talks feel genuine and down to earth, and allowed them to deal with some scheduling confusion and cancellations frankly. They dovetailed well with the entrepreneurs who would move across the stage throughout the day.
Steve Case started things up with a keynote on entrepreneurship, and the day moved briskly on from there. It is hard to compare speakers and sessions because there was little to no overlap in topic during the day. Each person or group moved through their topic which was specific though not narrow. Everyone was well spoken, energetic and personally knowledgeable.
I was happy to see some talk of failure and effort. The speakers spoke from a perspective of experience, some of which was not all positive, but displayed a clear notion of the risks and rewards of being an entrepreneur. The discussions often spoke of the pitfalls encountered, even after initial success, and highlighted some of the dog-eat-dog that goes on in the real world. I felt that this was sobering while still upbeat.
The event was held at the Woolly Mammoth theater on E St. in Washington DC. This is a 265-seat, courtyard-style theatre and home to the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. The choice of venue was excellent, as it was small enough to allow for direct question taking and intimate discussion, while still allowing for a decent sized group.
The after party was unfortunately not as well planned. The event, which took place at the Shadow Room, on K. ST near Washington Circle in DC, was very cramped. This made meeting the sponsors difficult. The sound volume of the space quickly exploded making networking difficult at best. This was surprising since the TechCocktail event started as a mixer.
Taking the whole event into focus, a clear and well conceived picture emerges. This is one in which those with a true entrepreneurial spirit will have gained the benefit of encouragement and wisdom brought forward. The ability to meet and greet with other like minded individuals in the area, given the small community is a great opportunity. While a one day conference could not hope to completely start one off, it could quite possibly ignite the spark of the next great technology company.
Full disclosure: I am currently employed by George Washington University, which was a community sponsor to this event. I attended the event with my own funds, and do not represent GWU for the purposes of this article.