I have seen my share of networking events. Back during the dotcom era it was full of open bars and crazy companies with the latest software to change your life in some way. Then it was all about buying stuff on the web or a portal for something or another.
After the bubble burst most people were just trying to hold on and all that you had a choice between in the DC area were NVTC (Northern VA Tech Council) and Potomac Officer Club events. NVTC was very government focused and who mostly showed up were service providers (I have the 100′s of insurance and lawyer business cards to prove it). POC events were big events with well known people but not alot of good networking.
One good networking event I liked was the Tech Prayer breakfast but that was only once a year. What most of us were left with was going to conferences, usually not here, to get our networking on and find fellow entrepreneurs and real innovative thinkers.
Lately, there has been a change in the winds here in the DC area. With events like PodCampDC and Social Media Club’s events we are starting to see our cutting edge tech scene finally re-emerge. Last Thursday night it was totally confirmed with the TECH Cocktail DC event. It was held at MCCXXIII (1223) in DC. A swanky place that is over-priced for my usual weekend partying but this event had cheap drinks (thank you drink tickets) and about 300 people.
Below is a picture of the scene at the height of the evening.
While there have been many events that have drawn 400 people, this was different. Almost everyone was doing something startup related that was really cutting edge. There were social media people there (Technosailor and me included), innovative startups and actual investors looking to network.
There were also a great group of sponsors with great products to demo. Here is a great list from Jimmy over at EastCoastBlogging:
AwayFind – a product aimed at helping combat the email problem by letting your contacts get in touch with you via an online form.
iGala – a digital photo frame with a touchscreen interface that connects directly to Flickr and Gmail to stream photos to the frame like a slideshow.
Loladex – offers local recommendations from your trusted network of Facebook friends.
Odeo – launched a new beta verision which offers both search and personalized content (audio and video) recommendations.
Voxant – a free licensed content offering for publishers which offers a pageview based revenue share to anyone that embeds the content on a their site.
WhyGoSolo – a new social networking site aimed at helping you to create spontaneous new connections so, as its name implies, you won’t go solo any longer.
A huge amount of thanks go out to Frank Gruber and Eric Olson who do the TECH Cocktails around the country and they need to do it more than once a year here.
The vibe around this region is changing and since we will never will be Silicon Valley and never want to be, it is fantastic to see that there is a refreshed ecosystem of entrepreneurship here in the region.
Photo courtesy of jgarber
Editor’s Note: Some comments don’t seem to apply to this post as viewers of a show I was on were instructed to leave comments on this blog to get an invite to BrightKite. These comments will be approved but do not necessarily go with this post. Sorry!