In today’s world it’s incredibly easy to connect with people while sitting behind your desk, but ask many investors and entrepreneurs – they’ll still tell you that, tiring though it can sometimes be, nothing beats a face-to-face connection
Last Thursday, FieldHouse Associates attended the first TableCrowd dinner as a partner. To the uninitiated – which I was just a matter of weeks ago since I’ve just joined the FHA team – TableCrowd is a business community that hosts dinner parties where guests can network with like-minded individuals over a burger or a salad. The dinner we partnered was run with Eva Tarasova, the investment director at Wharton Asset Management Company. As such, the focus of the evening was around investing from pre-seed to series B and pre-IPO – an area that startup enthusiast Eva is seasoned in.
I won’t lie to you, from a personal perspective, networking is hard. When faced with a roomful of strangers, even as an extroverted person, it can be very daunting. The personal advice I give to myself is always first be interested then try and be interesting. Easy to understand, harder to execute. TableCrowd dinners take away that awkwardness and, at times, isolation. The team there firmly believes “building your network should be an enjoyable and productive experience – not painful and awkward.” I think one of the keys to executing this is having it at a place that immediately puts everyone at ease from the moment they arrive, somewhere informal.
TableCrowd seamlessly created a relaxed atmosphere while balancing it with added professionalism and it’s in this specific space where people are able to engage with like-minded people. As our TableCrowd host Arit Eminue said at the start, some people may attend to network, some are present to fundraise and some are just there to absorb conversation, knowledge and the environment. Regardless of the core reason, people happily paid to sit at the table and engage with others in their field.
Impressively, Arit was able to remember everyone’s names after what seemed like looking at the list once and was an excellent facilitator. She ensured everyone had the chance to say something and that no one person dominated the room.
Meanwhile, in between courses, Eva spoke both broadly of what she looks for when investing in companies. With an eye across healthcare, tech – biotech, medtech, AI, security – consumer goods and infrastructure, she has seen and heard no end of founders’ ideas. But this was an informal talk and people were given lots of time to discuss and ask questions at the end. A key takeaway I observed, which entrepreneurs can learn hugely from, was that when presenting her with a deck, she will rarely go past the third slide if the fundraiser does not sufficiently cover the following from the get-go:
(1) Problem – Why is this an issue?
(2) Solution – How will you solve it?
(3) You – Why you are the one to deliver it
After speaking to my colleagues at FieldHouse, I know they, like myself, are excited about attending more meals in the months to come. To check out TableCrowd and see if any of their up and coming dinners are for you, then just visit their website. We look forward to seeing you there.