Seven years ago we started doing a weekly Friday lunch for our employees as a way to break bread as a team and to get to know each other on a personal level. It worked so well as a small company, we thought to try it out for the entire startup community with the large event space at the Atlanta Tech Village. So, 10 weeks ago we kicked it off with a good turnout and it’s grown ever since. For the last five weeks, we’ve had well over 100 people per week attend and we’ve even branded it as the Startup Chowdown.
Here are a few notes on the startup community weekly lunch idea:
- Charge a nominal fee (Startup Chowdown is $10 for people that aren’t a member of ATV) so that people who sign up are more likely to attend as well as to defray some costs
- Find a sponsor, whenever possible, to pay for the food and drink in exchange for getting to talk for five minutes in front of the group
- Cater the food and drink to keep the quality high and effort low for the people coordinating the event
- Provide name tags or badges with different color labels to promote interaction (e.g. random groupings of people based on their badge color to help people meet new people)
- Make the event open and inclusive but include a strict no solicitation rule so that people aren’t trying to sell during the event
The weekly Startup Chowdown event is a great low-key way to bring a startup community together and would be successful in many cities.
What else? What are some other ideas on having a weekly lunch to bring the startup community together?