The January ExitEvent Startup Social is Tuesday, 1/21, at 6:00 p.m. at Lonerider Brewery (and if you’re not a verified entrepreneur and it’s still, say, Monday, join now, it’s invite only). And if I have to pick one overarching reason why you should be there, it’s this:

Because you thought 2014 was going to be a boring year. Admit it.

OK, I will. In an amazing stretch of singlemindedness of purpose, I spent the entirety of my summer heads-down working on some big projects for Automated Insights. No secret, most of it was the fantasy football stuff, but we had other projects going on as well, even non-sports related customers.

That resulted in me not having a single day off from July 1st through to September 14th (the weekend after the first weekend of NFL football). Not a Saturday or Sunday went by when I didn’t work at least eight hours, on top of the 12-14 on the weekdays and scheduled weekly “late nights” where we all stayed until past midnight. All of us.

I’m not complaining. Nor was I alone, pretty much all of us were in that boat. This is what you do when you do startup (although, to be honest, we’ve all decided we’re never, ever doing that again, we’re insane, not suicidal).

So when I came out of the haze, I was expecting that I had missed a bunch of cool stuff that had been going on while I was losing my vision and brain cells to giant swaths of data and artificial intelligence. This was only partially true. Cool stuff had happened, but I had actually managed to stay on top of it — I was still writing, if just to switch gears. But it seemed like, while the velocity was still there, the acceleration had slowed.

Then it hit me, during September’s Startup Social actually, when we packed nearly 200 entrepreneurs and investors into (iContact/Boostsuite co-founder) Aaron Houghton’s house in Chapel Hill a mere two days after my first day off in months.

Here was something completely different. Better keep doing that.

Because what I had been doing was going back to the same places (literally and figuratively) and expecting a different experience. That works for a little while, as change will usually come to you. But any perspective, no matter how awesome the view, will cause you to stagnate over time.

And this is true of your startup as well. No matter how great your idea is and how good you are at executing it, if you stop innovating for too long, you’ll wilt, if not in terms of growth and dollars, most definitely in terms of your passion in and commitment to what you’re doing.

So it was with that in mind that I started exploring with ExitEvent a bit – looking into the startup outflow into the community via things like The Startup Giveback, and looking into the community inflow into startup via things like entrepreneurial education.

I also decided it was time to move the Social. Not because the existing venues had anything wrong with them, but the rotation should be part of the theme — come out, talk to your peers, get a fresh perspective on what you’re doing, and that includes where you’re standing and what you’re drinking.


It’s been working. And if I have one regret, it’s that I didn’t do this sooner (or that it took me nearly losing my mind over a summer to finally realize what was missing). If I have another regret, it’s that I didn’t ask Lonerider’s Sumit Vohra to host one earlier.

Like Erik Myers at Mystery Brewing (who has poured probably 90% of our Socials), Sumit is a former techie who changed his perspective in a big way, and he still digs the entrepreneurial scene.

“Startup and tech has always been in my background,” he says. “Even though I’m focused on my passion of beer, I still very much enjoy and advise tech startups. Also entrepreneurs are outlaws and we certainly make ‘Ales For Outlaws'”

Also like Erik, Sumit has built his brewery like a startup, and he’s well aware of the similarities between the two.

“Of course margins, brand building, and real world vs. virtual world differences are there,” he says, “but you would be surprised as to how many similarities there are. In fact being able to take advantage of technology in the beer business has been extremely critical for us.”

So I’m absolutely thrilled to be going there Tuesday night. And as it turns out, it’s kind of a mutual fit.

“ExitEvent has a very social & groundswell feel,” says Sumit. “It’s an organic network which brings the entrepreneurial community together. Something I think the Triangle needs more of.”

And of note, Lonerider turns FIVE years old on Thursday (two days after the Social), so if you needed a second reason to come out and celebrate, there’s that. Lonerider will also be launching in four states some time within the next month or so, so you can say you were there back before it was huge.