Meetings

Industry Trends Make for Unique Meeting Experiences

By Samantha Whitehorne / Feb 8, 2013 (National Venture Capital Association)

How one association is jumping on an industry trend to create a one-of-a-kind experience and opportunity for its members at an upcoming meeting.

Every industry that an association represents has its own trends and innovations within it. For the venture-capital industry, one of the newer innovations is the “office hours” concept. The idea goes back to the office hours most college professors hold during the week that give students an opportunity to chat with their teachers outside the formal classroom setting.

In the venture-capital arena, the concept means investors taking a few hours each week or month and opening their offices to allow entrepreneurs to pick their brains without the pressure of having to formally pitch their latest and greatest idea for a product or service in order to get startup funding.

The goal is to unleash a massive surge of creative synergy that will energize participants in their quest for growth.

And now the National Venture Capital Association is taking advantage of the trend at its 2013 VentureScape meeting, being held in San Francisco in May. Called “the world’s largest office hours,” NVCA is setting aside 2.5 hours during its meeting to bring hundreds of venture capitalists and entrepreneurs together in one room for networking, mentoring, and idea exchange. The goal, according to the association, is to “unleash a massive surge of creative synergy that will energize the participants in their quest for growth.”

What makes the idea work is that not only is it a way for NVCA’s members—venture capital firms—to market their companies to entrepreneurs (i.e., their potential clients), but it’s also a way for them to gain insights into the minds of these entrepreneurs and give back to the larger startup community too. And for the entrepreneurs, it exposes them to NVCA and allows them to get their feet wet and receive immediate feedback before they dive into the big pitch. Imagine the better ideas that may come as a result of this gathering. No matter what, it looks to be a win-win for all sides.

Here’s a little more information about how it will work: Venture firms can participate for free as long as they are NVCA members and have at least one partner registered for VentureScape. Each firm—and up to four of its partners—will then be scheduled to mentor a set number of entrepreneurs in 20-minute blocks.

As for the entrepreneurs, admission is by invitation only. They can either get a pass through one of the business accelerators and incubators partnering with NVCA for the program or apply for a pass by March 1 by completing information here.  Those who are selected are guaranteed at least two meetings with venture capitalists in their industry sector and full access to the networking lounge where many investors will be on hand to talk shop even more informally.

To create even more buzz about the event, NVCA created the trailer below, which stars some of its members and staff.

And the idea and trailer are working: According to the program’s site, close to 50 venture capital firms have signed up already—and spots for entrepreneurs are filling up fast.

How has your association used one of its industry’s trends to create a unique experience at one of your meetings or events? Please share in the comments.

Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is deputy editor of Associations Now. More »

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