A funny thing happened when I went to the Mystery Brewing Public House to put in the order for the beer for this coming Monday’s ExitEvent Startup Social.

I wound up drinking and talking startup for a couple hours.

I know, right?

Started out like any other trip to Mystery Brewing. Erik poured me a beer and also a sample of some hot-pepper-infused stuff he’d been working on (“Explosive!”). He was wrapping up a staff meeting as they all prepared to head to Colorado for the Great American Beer Festival, so I hung out and listened to a bunch of stuff that simultaneously made me jealous and grateful that I wasn’t in the brewing business.

Then Erik sat down.

“So what do you need? Kegs or cases?”

“Let’s go cases. If you’re in Colorado then I want to pour. Someone else may be helping too.”

“I might be back in time, but cases it is. Three?”

“That works.”

“How about three flavors? What do you want?”

“I trust your judgment.”


Then talk turned to raising money, both of us happen to be on opposite sides of the same particular transaction, if you know what I mean. Plus I had a column coming out the next day about general solicitation and public fundraising, so we went back and forth on the plusses and minuses (for the record, we both see a lot of minuses).

After that we talked about a lot more things startup, like our own personal secrets for how to get stuff we need cheap (treat people well and offer something of real or potential value in return – in that order), how to maintain culture (Automated Insights just won first place for small companies in the TBJ Best Places to Work in the Triangle), and how much we missed sleep (lots).

Then, oddly enough, another conversation started when a couple more entrepreneurs who just happened to be enjoying a beer at the public house overheard us and started asking questions. We were able to give advice, I learned a thing or two, and went home having gotten a lot more done than just ordering a whole bunch of growlers for Monday night.

I felt good because, hey, how often does it happen where I can be sitting in a room drinking beer and just talking about my startup and other people’s startups and giving and getting feedback and advice without a sense of someone trying to sell me something or commit to something or otherwise feel like I or someone else is on display for people who just wanted to show up for the free beer and maybe find someone to code their app idea?

Of course, I’m bullshitting you. I created the Startup Social so this could happen (at least) once a month for me and anyone else who is a legitimate, hardworking entrepreneur. I mean, we didn’t even let investors in until the 12th or 13th Social (this is #22), and there just isn’t anything else like it.

Unless there’s some secret society I don’t know about that’s like the Freemasons only more nerdier. Which is possible.

Anyway, at the risk of calling out one of the entrepreneurs I was talking with, but I guess it’s cool because only he and I know who he is, as I was heading out, he stopped to ask me a question.

“So… how much do you charge?”

“For what?”

“You know, for consulting. All the stuff we were talking about?”

And the thing of it is, I do. My last startup before Automated Insights was a service firm specifically geared toward consulting and building technical and product pieces of companies — which included a lot of work for a growing number of startups.

But of course, I told him I wasn’t going to charge him (treat people well). I just gave him my email addy and told him to email me when he had questions. Because that’s the other reason I created the Social, so that entrepreneurs could get help from one another, the informal, valuable, peer-based help that this region (and others, I might add) so desperately needs.

And I don’t charge for the Social because having those kinds of conversations with my peers over a few great beers in a bullshit-free setting?

Hell, I would pay for that myself.

See you Monday night. And oh yeah, we have three kinds of beer this time.