Starting To Open Connect

Being a digital nomad is cool. Like, really cool. Probably the nicest benefit of it is that I get to work from wherever I want (provided that they have WiFi or at least a decent 3G coverage).

During the last 6 months I worked from a specific location in Bucharest (where I live for the moment), namely Starbucks Mall Vitan. Since I already had a lot of meetings there, I decided to create a regular networking event. It will be held each Thursday, from 9:30 AM to 11:30 AM. What follows is a translation of the Facebook Group I created for this specific event.

But, before starting to read, maybe you’re asking yourself why should I announce an event limited to a Romanian location on my English blog, which, allegedly, has a broader audience.

The first reason is that this event is also part of my journey. It may happen in a specific location and it may have a limited audience (local, Romanian entrepreneurs, to be more specific) but it’ still part of my crazy experiments. It’s an opportunity to learn, to experiment and it’s definitely a challenge for me. Second, because it may be of use to other digital nomads trying to build similar events. I know for sure there are a lot of online communities, but I do not know about many real life events around online entrepreneurs, or digital nomading. So, if anyone is thinking to do some offline digital nomad events, maybe this event will serve as a blueprint or at least as some form of inspiration.

That being said, let’s go:

Each Thursday, at Starbucks Mall Vitan, from 9:30 AM, will gather for networking, pitching and mentoring. Intended audience: online entrepreneurs, media people, curious people, coders or web designers.

As the name suggests, Open Connect is an open group, but most of all, it wants to be a flexible one. Although I see it as a context in which entrepreneurs will generate and consume value as freely as they can, experience also tells me that there must be a minimum set of rules too. And because there will always be people that will need to know those rules before anything else, I combined then in a Frequently Asked Questions form.

Q. Why Starbucks Mall Vitan?
A. Because I worked here for the last 6 monts (more or less), it’s a nice place and the manager told there will be some free coffees too.

Q. It may be organized in other places too?
A. Yes. Will see more down the road.

Q. What happens at such an event?
A. Networking .People meeting other people, exchanging impressions, wishes, business plans, what went well, what went better and, most of all, giving and receiving feedback.

Q. How do you offer feedback at OpenConnect?
A. In a civilized way, always making the difference between the person and his or her message. In other words, the message may be ridiculous (for whatever reasons) but the person will always be respected. If you do not do that, you will be politely asked to leave the perimeter.

Q. What’s the scenario?
A. There is an MC (a host) who will make sure the pitches won’t go over the limit (when we do have pitches). The MC will also create small ice-breaking sessions, if need will be, or a pleasant context if there will be any mentoring sessions.

Q. Can I pitch at OpenConnect?
A. Yes. The pitch will have one minute top. If you go over 1 minute, the MC will stop you..

Q. What means mentoring at OpenConnect?
A. In case you want to interact with certain entrepreneurs – and they want to interact with you – we can organize mentoring sessions. The topics, or at least a minimal structure, will have to be determined in advance and they’ll be announced on the Facebook Group page.

Q. Can I sell something at OpenConnect? An event, a product, anything?
A. If you can keep your pitch under 1 minute and you’re willing to receive feedback, yes, The main value at OpenConnect is feedback.

Q. How long it will take?
A. If you mean individually, for each event, I’d like to have a maximum of 2 hours, but you can leave anytime if you have something else to do or you’re bored. If you mean how long the format of this event will survive, I have no idea.

Q. How many people can you host at the moment?
A. Around 30 people.

Q. There will be a video projector or something like that?
A. Nope. If you have one and want to use it, we can arrange that, but you have to take care about the logistics yourself. And, of course, your pitch must be under 1 minute.

Q. Rules can be changed?
A. Yes. I hope so.

Q. OpenConnect is Open Coffee?
A. Nope. It’s something else. I hope.

Q. Is there a connection between OpenConnect and Venture Connect?
A. Except for the second word from the name, for the fact that I’m a board member in Venture Connect and that the others board members of Venture Connect are aware about this project, nope, there’s no connection whatsoever. These are two different things, with different approaches, resources and goals.

If you want to know when the next event will be held, I encourage you to join the Open Connect Facebook group. At the moment, the group is in Romanian, but if there will be enough requests, I see no problem to have the main content in English too.
That’s it. Let’s OpenConnect!