Founded by Mind Candy and now run by 3beards, Silicon Drinkabout is an informal after work gathering for the startup community held on Friday evenings. The event began in London and has since spread to a handful of locales, this month landing in New York, Toronto, Sofia and, in Latin America, São Paulo.
In the plethora of events and activities on the crowded startup agenda, a laid back, relaxed attitude is what makes Silicon Drinkabout stand out. Scarboro discussed the gathering’s trajectory and the team has managed to take it international.
Emily Stewart: There are tons of startup events going on all the time. What sets this one apart?
Joe Scarboro: Silicon Drinkabout is different to other startup events as it has no agenda. In fact, you set your own agenda: there’s no pressure to do anything other than have a good time if you don’t want to. If you just want to chill out and feel part of the community after a hard week of 16-hour days, then you can. If you’re looking for some validation on a new idea, then you can try it out, or if you just want to pop in for 30 minutes for a break and a beer, then that’s fine, too. No pressure, no agenda, just good times with good people.
Silicon Drinkabout is here to champion and celebrate individual startup communities around the world as well as welcoming them to a global family. So when you’re ready to make your first expansion steps internationally, you will already have a community of early adopters just like you ready to support you wherever you go.
ES: You’ve launched in Sao Paulo. Have you had to approach the community differently?
JS: We work with locally-based organizers outside of London. They’re our eyes and ears, and as local experts, we trust them to approach the community in a respectful, responsible way. There are always nuances to different communities that we couldn’t possibly be aware of, so it up to the organizers to help us make the right decisions for the community.
ES: In Brazil and Latin America in general, there aren’t a whole lot of women in entreprenership. How do you keep this from becoming a boys club and get women in the door?
JS: Part of the ethos of Silicon Drinkabout is its accessibility, this is on all levels – low-friction sign up, no joining criteria and definitely no boys’clubs, or clubs of any sort. This is made clear in how we need the event to be run and will be the responsibility of the local organizer to make sure this is upheld.
There are many women’s entrepreneurial organizations in London and Europe and we work with them where we can and are very proud that we have a higher proportion of women at Silicon Drinkabout than most other tech events. We sincerely hope that this can be replicated in all of our locations.
ES: How do you make sure the same environment and values of the event are transmitted across different locales?
JS: Again, this is down to our trust in the local organizers. With such widespread locations, it is impossible for us to know what is happening everywhere, so picking the right people to run the events is an essential part of the expansion into new locations. We give each organizer a document with the lessons that we have learned over the last two and a half years and also how we would like the event to be run. This, coupled with Skype interviews, helps be sure that the events are run in the right way.