Ep. #1131 - Startup Communities: From Online to In-Person
In today’s episode of Startup Hustle, we’re highlighting the transition of startup communities back from online to in-person interactions. Matt DeCoursey welcomes our guest from Ireland, Adam Fulham, founder and CEO of Startup Network Europe. Learn what makes a great startup community and what your to-do list should be like when attending or organizing events.
Covered In This Episode
Great startup communities have the power to propel your dreams into reality. But how do you use it? And when it comes to events, how do you choose the right one for you? Why are webinars also in decline?
The answers to these questions lie in the conversation between Matt and Adam. Get to know more tips on what you should do when organizing your event or attending one. And learn many other valuable insights from the founder duo.
Tune in to this Startup Hustle episode now.
- Adam’s entrepreneurial backstory (02:04)
- Dad jokes about Ireland and Kansas entrepreneurs (02:55)
- What makes a good and bad startup community? (05:29)
- Have a standard on who to invite as speakers for your event (12:54)
- Are there DeCoursey castles in Ireland? (17:59)
- Why are webinars in decline? (21:36)
- What to keep in mind when planning a webinar (24:33)
- Top tips when attending an entrepreneurial event (29:25)
- On t-shirts, stickers, and fun stuff (35:36)
The real power of a community is leveraging the knowledge of other people.– Adam Fulham
Stick out, be remembered. Be memorable for the right reasons.– Matt DeCoursey
If you’re an AI startup looking for investment, go to an AI event and meet [and] talk to 10 investors. All of them are potential investors. But if you go to another [general] event, you might talk to 10 investors, and none of them will invest in what you do.– Adam Fulham
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Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode. Apologies for any errors!
Matt DeCoursey 00:01
And we’re back! Back for another episode of Startup Hustle. Matt DeCoursey here to have another conversation I’m hoping helps your business grow. Alright, so it’s been a wacky world these last few years. Everything was in-person, and it wasn’t going to be back in person. So how has that affected startup communities? Have they gone from online back to in-person or from in-person to staying online? Who knows? We’re going to figure it out today. Before I introduce today’s guests, this episode of Startup Hustle is powered by FullScale.io. Hiring software developers is difficult. Full Scale can help you build a software development team quickly and affordably and has a platform to help you manage that team. Go to FullScale.io to learn more. If you’re not aware, that’s my company. And we love talking to Startup Hustle listeners. It really only takes about two minutes to fill out the form at FullScale.io. We’ll see if we can give you some help. Speaking of help, who’s going to help me with today’s conversation? Adam Fulham is the founder and CEO of Startup Network Europe. You can go to startup network.eu. There is a link for that in the show notes. Straight out of one of my favorite cities in the world: Dublin, Ireland. Adam, welcome to Startup Hustle.
Adam Fulham 01:13
Matt, how are you?
Matt DeCoursey 01:15
I’m doing well, man. I’m doing well. You know, I’d like to get our conversation started today with a little bit about your backstory. So let’s dive right in.
Adam Fulham 01:24
Absolutely, yeah. So my name is Adam, founder of Startup Network Europe. And we essentially set up right before COVID, so it was 2019. I had this dream to do events all over Europe, then COVID hit, and a really soft everything for one year. But, you know, we have to adapt to our startups. So I said, okay, let’s do webinars. The webinars were amazing. We were getting one to 3000 people online. Sometimes, I was only one person. But, nowadays, people want to meet face to face 100%. And face-to-face is so much better. So we’ve been all across Europe. In the past year or so, doing events in Italy, Spain, and even Ukraine. I was there a few weeks ago. And it’s quite an adventure, and you meet a lot of great people too.
Matt DeCoursey 02:15
It’s interesting. I will talk a little bit about Ukraine. I have some questions about that. Now. You know, I think we’d be kind of crazy. If we didn’t share the dad joke I told you about startups in Ireland, should I go ahead and do that well ahead and already know the outcome. So let’s not spoil it for the listeners. But before we started recording, I said, you know, Adam, I’ve heard great things about the startup scene in Ireland. He said, Oh, yeah. And I said, Yeah, I heard. Everything’s Dublin. And then we heard some crickets and a little bit of laughter. And I believe you shared an entrepreneur dad joke with me as well. And I’d like you to tell me that, by the way, if you’d like entrepreneur dad jokes, I post them on my Facebook reels and Instagram. They’re kind of ahead.
Adam Fulham 03:03
Well, actually, Matt, you know what, we’ll do something different. So you’re from Kansas? Right?
Matt DeCoursey 03:07
Correct. All right. So
Adam Fulham 03:09
I’m on chat. GPT right now, tell me a joke about startups. So I’m expecting something about the Wizard of Oz. But let’s see why the startup in Kansas failed because they couldn’t find any venture capitalists who could spell Kansas correctly? All right, that’s the first one I’m interested in. Why did the startup founder and Kansas cross the road to pitch their idea to the only investor in town?
Matt DeCoursey 03:37
Ha, ha. My God probably goes on and on. Yeah, I think that’s a misconception. You know, I travel the world much like you do. And people are like, Oh, you’re from Kansas? Are you a farmer? Um, no, I live in a city. It’s probably even bigger than the one we’re in right now. But yeah, so. But you know, with, you mentioned, startup scenes now, my hometown of Kansas City actually punches above its weight. When it comes to startups, we’re not claiming to be Silicon Valley or anything like that. We’ve got a very robust startup scene. And so much of that is fueled by the startup community that exists like I’m very in touch with what we’re talking about. And, and, you know, at the same time, I’m also conflicted with some of the things that go up in the startup scene. I think ecosystems are challenging. There are very interesting players, and many of them, and there’s a lot of great things in some markets. And then there are some things that, at least in my opinion, are a little misguided. But you know, when it comes to, like, online to in-person, and all of that, I mean, what, like, let’s start a conversation with like, what, what makes a good startup community, whether it’s online or in-person?
Adam Fulham 04:49
Yeah, so I actually, if we speak about community, I think there are two things. Number one is regular events. Not something every week or every month, but you got to bring two. Gather the local ecosystem once every two or three months. And this way, people start meeting each other 2345 times. I hear in Ireland, I know quite a lot of people. I know what their friends do, basically. The other thing, I believe, is an online group. So in Ireland and also other countries, but we’ll talk about Ireland, we have a WhatsApp group called Startup Network Ireland. And we’ve got 720 people, most of them are startup founders, and some investors too. And it’s a great group. I have to moderate it sometimes, you know, there’s no selling allowed, even from me. No spam, nothing like that. But eventually, the group becomes very self-policing. And it’s just, it’s mostly chittering chatter most of the time, but sometimes people are someone in a crisis. And they asked the group, hey, can anyone recommend an accountant? Can anyone recommend someone who wrote in Revolute? So somebody stole my revolver? And what happens is you get an answer within a few minutes instead of doing days and days of research. So I think the real power of community is leveraging the knowledge of other people.
Matt DeCoursey 06:10
Yeah, I agree. I think knowledge transfer is a powerful thing. I think entrepreneurs, at all stages, feel pretty committed to applying the knowledge that they find. I found, you know when I was younger, I was a lot more experienced. Now. I’m not necessarily old. But when I was less experienced, I always kind of, you know, there were definitely more experienced and more accomplished entrepreneurs that often took time to give me information, talk to me, like, these are busy people that didn’t have to do any of this. And I remember at the time being younger, and I’m like, Why did these people take an interest in me? Being the candid, straightforward person I am, I just started asking them, and well, you remind me a lot of myself, or I remember what it was like when I needed some advice, or I would really love to see people avoid the problems and mistakes that I went through. And, you know, I look back at that. And now that I’m, now that I have more experience, I feel like a commit, like I have a commitment to transferring that knowledge. I think it’s a very powerful thing. I mean, obviously, entrepreneurs didn’t invent knowledge transfer; it’s been going on for basically the history of history. And that’s why we have history. But, you know, I think that that’s an important element. Now, one of the things you mentioned with the community was that, hey, we try to limit the solicitation in some ways. I mean, obviously, we all want to move our business forward. I think one of the issues I have with a lot of in-person events, and I’ve ruffled some feathers when I say this is I feel like a show pony. When I get there, I feel like some of the organizations that have the events, they’re out there attracting sponsors by saying, hey, and you’re gonna get invited to our in-person events, and the local startup and business leaders are going to be there. And you might be able to sell your banking or whatever. And you get to some of these things. And it’s like, you’re just there. It’s like I said, it’s like a show pony. It’s like, let’s prance the dance and prance the frat founders around and see if we can get a bunch of banks that won’t give anybody alone anyway, to come in and try to sell shit. And honestly, that’s really, that’s really lowered my desire to go to a lot of events when I feel like that. And I’ve, and I’ve talked to so many of my peers that confirmed the exact same thing. So that means, do you find that to be an issue, like, everywhere?
Adam Fulham 08:48
So I had a job. Four years ago, I think, where I went, let’s say, I went to 10 business events in Dublin. And the first nine were quite bad. They were, you know, certain types of career coaches who just wanted to sell to you, and you came to the actual events, multi-level marketing people who wanted to rope you into some big scheme. And yes, very, very poor quality speakers. I even went to a Scientology meeting once by mistake. Wow. Yeah. Funny story. It was advertised as, I think, how to be more successful in your business life. And I went, and yeah, I started to notice some things like Dianetics; I think I saw that in South Park. And I think I know that term. And anyway, I didn’t know until after the meeting. Oh, that they were Scientologists. They just never mentioned it. So I went to a lot of busy, you know, these kinds of events in Dublin. And I just realized there are not enough events where you have scale-up founders, people who’ve been there doing that giving advice, people who are more successful, you know, than I am. I need to learn from those people. So I just kind of came up with this method where I’m going to invite those people to get them in a panel. And that’s a big factor. The other factor is limited content to an hour. You know, people don’t want to spend their whole morning listening to content limited to about an hour and having drinks and networking. And that formula works pretty well. And sometimes, in recent weeks, I’ve done the same thing as you. I haven’t gone to events just because, well, I’m busy today. Is it really worth my time? I could do this or that instead. So I feel you, man.
Matt DeCoursey 10:39
By the way, we were speaking of banks. Did you hear why the Irish startup founder went to the bank? He was interested in Dublin having his funding.
Adam Fulham 10:51
I love funds.
Matt DeCoursey 10:53
I started it, but you kept it going. So yeah, we’re headed in the right direction. And that, yeah, that was a good one, though. Yeah, I teamed up with chat GPT, too. So but no, you’re right. So you know. So here’s the thing is, like, when you talk about some of these organizations, and they do require sponsorship, I would pay money to go to a nonce, like an event with just the founders. And I’ve thought about pulling these off myself, like doing the non-event event, you know, like only founders. And like, the whole thing was like, it was like all about. No, like, no sponsors, no speakers, no bullshit, you know, like, just because that’s the thing that I think that I found that other founders and entrepreneurs wanted to be around each other. And sometimes, the price of that is, in fact, like the solicitations. Now you talk about speakers. Now. I haven’t accidentally walked into a room of Scientologists. But I have certainly gone to an event with a panel of speakers that were giving advice about entrepreneurship, having never been entrepreneurs themselves. I don’t like that you do not have my attention. I’m sorry.
Adam Fulham 12:14
All right. Yeah. So I’ll tell you something. When I do events, okay, why do you? So I figured out a formula. So I’ve done some events in the past, but I have been substandard. What I do is literally go to Denmark and Copenhagen, and I look for 100 founders of successful companies with at least 20 3040 100 employees. And I just message 100 of these people. And I play the numbers game normally. Four or five of them say yes. And if any speakers of my events out there are listening, this is the thing most people will say. Only a minority of people will say yes. But you do have to have that standard for people you invite in the first place. So what’s happened with my events is I’ve had very few famous people speak at the events where there are normally local successful business people, it’s better. They’re not getting paid because they have a lot of, you know, followers. On social media, they’re there purely because they built a company with 2050 100 200 employees. They normally don’t speak out about their events. They’re not necessarily famous people. But because of that, the advice they give is just so you know, to the ground, down to air, and based in reality, and I’m a big fan of just getting local speakers who no one has ever heard of.
Matt DeCoursey 13:35
Yeah, and you know that I mean, regardless of who it is, I think it’s easier to receive the message when it’s coming from someone that has woken up at 2am and wondered if they’re going broke or going crazy. Or maybe every decision they’ve made up to that point is wrong. Because that’s what being an entrepreneur is like. And, you know, this is the viewpoint coming from a guy. Look, I dropped out of five colleges. I’m not going to. I didn’t go to Harvard. I dropped out of some of those schools because I had better business opportunities. But you know, I did one thing when I wasn’t in school long enough to know that school often says, You go from A to B to C to D to E to F to G. That’s never the way it works in entrepreneurship. It’s like a to e, and you couldn’t get to B for some other reason. And then you had to skip C because you didn’t have the funding to get C, but the field felt like it was pretty close. So we went ahead and jumped that down in the timeline. Next thing you know, you’re trying to put it all together, and it just kind of looks like alphabet soup. So yeah. Now you know that said, I mean, there are definitely a lot of people that have a lot to offer for this, but if you’re hosting the startup event, in-person or online, you have some consideration to the delivery vessel in that regard. Like, don’t make your whole entire panel non-entrepreneurs for your entrepreneur discussion. So you know that that comes up now. Out now with that, though, like, I will say that I think that startup communities that have in-person events have groups online, stuff like that really seem to thrive. I say that because I’ve kind of been in the form of an observer, I’ve joined a lot of different groups on Facebook and stuff like that. I’m just kind of a lurker, I guess we should say, I’m not necessarily in those cities and communities, so I don’t try to pretend to be or get involved. But I was just kind of curious and went out and, and looked, and it did, there did seem to be a lot of alignment here in the US, at least, with, you know, companies that had or ecosystems that had, like that kind of online community. And there was that interaction now, you know, the idea of community building, we’re not using the term tribes is frowned upon now, but Seth Godin wrote a book called Tribes. So that’s why I’m gonna use it. But he discusses and talks about some very powerful principles. And if you want to build a community, the idea is, first, okay. So he actually uses the Grateful Dead band as, as an example, which I thought was very, very applicable. Because I mean, people religiously follow that band all over the world. And if you ever knew it, deadhead, they were just as enamored, if not more, by what was going on outside the venue as what was going on inside the venue. That’s why it was a powerful example. So you have what’s up on the stage, and that’s the main draw. But when you create a community of people that find as much art, hopefully even more value interacting and being around, and with each other, as they do as what’s on the main stage, you’ve created a really powerful thing. And that’s what makes people go and move around. And I know that for the in-person events here in Kansas City, you know, that I know when I go like there’s one tomorrow, I’m gonna go to it. Why? Because I want to go see my peers and some of my friends that I know it’ll be there. So yeah, there’s a good draw with that. But there’s
Adam Fulham 17:10
even entrepreneurs, sometimes, it’s just nice to chill, and their business talks about sports, which is awesome. Who’s in the same position as you?
Matt DeCoursey 17:19
Would I call it Tears and Bears? Yeah. It’s a healthy thing to know that you can be around people that aren’t going to look down on you if you get really drunk, or if you cry, or if you get really drunk and cry all about your business. So you know that that can happen. Now, if your business employs software developers, hiring them doesn’t need to be difficult, especially when you visit FullScale.io, where you can build a software team quickly and affordably. Use the Full Scale platform to define your technical needs, and then see what available developers, testers, and leaders are ready to join your team FullScale.io. To learn more if you want to learn more about what Adam does, go to startup network.eu. There is a link in the show notes for that. Now then, as we proceed to the end of the second half of the show here. I need to tell you something that I don’t think I’ve ever shared with the listeners here. 5 million downloads, 1100 episodes later. Do you know that there is a DeCoursey castle in Ireland? There are actually two. Really, one of them’s really more like a tower that looks like it halfway fell over. And then there is a rather robust castle. It was built by John DeCoursey. They have slightly different spelling and the same lineage. My family apparently changed their name a little bit when they moved to the US. There was a time when having your name sound French was way better than having the Irish here. So a little bit of smoke and mirrors, but Yes, sir. John de Courcey 1150 through 20 or through 1219. Yeah, so or maybe, maybe, you know, I have yet to make my trip over there. I do want to go check that out. But yeah, it’s always been a fascination. So yeah, it’s a real thing. Two of my uncles have been confirmed there. It’s a real place. So it has to be right.
Adam Fulham 19:20
Yeah, there are two John’s. Of course, he’s on Wikipedia. So that’s good, you know, sign that he was of some significance once you get a Wikipedia page.
Matt DeCoursey 19:30
Yeah, I mean, I have no idea who it is when I look at the guy, it’s Yeah, who knows? Yeah, very interesting. But yeah, I was. I’m actually adopted, so I can’t truly claim the Irish thing because I’m six foot four, but when I’m around my family, they’ve looked very Irish. They have red hair and freckles, and they all went to Notre Dame University. And I mean, I latched on to that, but I’m pretty sure that genetically You’re far too tall. Yeah, yeah.
Adam Fulham 20:05
Although my daughter has red hair, so who knows, maybe even think in America, let’s see 40 million people. So more than 10% of people with red hair. But more than 10% of people have Irish descendants.
Matt DeCoursey 20:14
Oh, yeah. Well, then they probably have red hair too. Yeah. Yeah, I’ve always grown up around that; I guess another font, that fun fact about me, I am the first male in my family not to go to Notre Dame University three generations. So yeah, I ruined that one too. But I think I turned out all right, so. Okay, so we talked a little bit about in-person events. And, you know, I think that we went to them. I, I have a love-hate with them. You know, I think most people kind of do. There are good ones. And there’s not. I think we shared a few things.
Adam Fulham 20:52
Mostly bad ones. The what? Most of them are bad.
Matt DeCoursey 20:56
Yeah, yeah. And I don’t want to pick on too many people. Because honestly, like, I appreciate the attempt. I just like to share some of that. I think people who are organizing these things need to hear that a little bit, like the solicitation thing, like getting too many vendors in there. I understand why you need the money. But that does drive away some of your premium visitors too. Because it’s just, yeah, it gets a little tiresome now, you know, we’ve been talking about from online to in-person and, and with that, so obviously the pandemic threw some curveballs at us. The neat thing about online is. Obviously, it shrinks the size of the world. Like, what do you like when you talk about, like, let’s talk about you mentioned webinars? Did you find that people quickly have gained some level of fatigue for that? I feel like we all got Zoom fatigue. At some point,
Adam Fulham 21:55
I can give you very anecdotes. Talk about Zoom. So October 2021, I did four webinars, and they were getting 2000 people each. It was crazy. I was one person at a time. It was great. I had sponsors; everything was really good. If I did that same webinar, now I would; I would probably get two or 300 people with better marketing. I think webinars have declined by probably 85%.
Matt DeCoursey 22:29
People wonder if they were in decline before the pandemic.
Adam Fulham 22:33
Oh, possibly an independent? Yeah.
Matt DeCoursey 22:35
Because, well, some of it, you talk about a webinar in any online event, like it’s challenging because, in an in-person event, you can have 50 different interactions going on. And at any time, it’s a little more, it’s a little harder to kind of focus on or keep that orderly.
Adam Fulham 22:52
Yeah, and there are a lot of people, I could meet you in person, and I know who you are, but I won’t recognize you until you say who you are. And I’ve had that happen on so many occasions. And people I met online, one to one, maybe three or four times. So there is that lack of personal connection. And yeah, it is easier to get 300 people physically somewhere nowadays than to get them online. And I think, actually, I don’t know if he uses Zoom. But anytime someone tries to log into Zoom these days, first of all, Zoom says loading updates, and then the updates don’t happen. And it’s just a bit awkward. But I think Zoom has probably taken the eye off the ball in terms of product because they just know, okay, we’re, we’ve had our peak where we are now in terms of customers. And it’s never going to be like that again, in terms of the metaverse as well; I think it is failing because you’re never going to have that many people online again, in those big types of events, I think, you know, when it comes to webinars and stuff like that, I mean, here’s the thing, if you’re thinking about doing stuff like that, you need to remember you’re competing with the rest of the internet’s free content. You know what I mean?
Matt DeCoursey 23:53
Like, I mean, so, because that came up in marketing meetings and other, you know, we had someone in the past, like, Hey, we should do webinars, I was like, That’s a great idea, like five years ago, and it’s simple. Why not? I think it is because people are really busy, like the people we want to reach, like C suite kind of people, like, it’s hard to pin them down and be like, you’ve got to be there only at 11 to 12 on a Thursday morning. You know, and like the amount of marketing that goes into that and everything. And you know, for me, I’m just kind of an open-source kind of guy. Obviously, the podcast is free; why not just put some of it out there? So now that said, there are a lot of people that do it effectively, but they have some kind of offering, some kind of content, some kind of speaker or something that you can’t just go to YouTube and search, you know, so like, I mean, that’s the thing you always I think you always have to ask yourself whether it comes to market Nino events is like, well, what am I competing with? And you say, Oh, well, I’m not competing with this. Well, I’ll tell you what, right now in Kansas City, the weather is beautiful. After a really shitty winter baseball starts, I can go to a game for the major league team; my kids are both playing it, I’ve got 10 million other things, and I can take the dog for a walk. This is you’re not just competing with the internet; you compete with other people’s lives. So that has a lot to do with why we chose a podcast over everything else. Because you know, Adam, I’ve actually, prior to launching this podcast, I had a history of working as a consultant for other people building brands, specifically on YouTube, which would have seemed like a natural choice for me to that, say, there’s something with a podcast, and I’m getting to the pearls of wisdom here, people, but with the podcasts, you don’t get for an audio thing. You don’t have to ask someone to give up as much stuff. What do I mean? When it’s a YouTube video, like you gotta watch that shit, you got to keep the app open mostly. And I mean, I get it; you can drop it in the tray, bah, blah. But it’s not the same experience. Now most people listen to podcasts while they’re exercising, doing chores, driving, or commuting. You know, so you can be someone’s companion in that regard. So certain things like webinars are different; that’s also the beauty of a chat board and some of the online communities that aren’t maybe as sophisticated as video or groups or rooms. These people apply; they reply when they reply. So keep that in mind. If you’re trying to build a community. Do you have anything you’d like to add to that?
Adam Fulham 26:42
No, I agree. I listen to podcasts when I’m in the gym. And on the bus going to and from the office. I actually find that if I’m alone in a room, I find it very hard to concentrate on just the audio. So I watch videos then.
Matt DeCoursey 26:58
For podcasts, you don’t have to give anything up then, Right?
Adam Fulham 27:01
Yeah, exactly. I feel like music was, I mean, this might be assessing some weird WiFi like, you listen to music, what are you learning? At least if you’re in the gym and you’re listening to podcasts, okay, you’re learning stuff at the same time.
Matt DeCoursey 27:14
I learned stuff from myself when I listen to music I’ve got, I’ve got, so I actually mentioned the Grateful Dead earlier. I’m actually a jam band fan. Like, I like a nice 25 ad. So I like a nice 23-minute song with limited lyrics in it. And that gets me in a nice flow state; I get a lot of stuff done. It’s like I can actually kind of get myself there. But I hear you on a lot of it. And so you know, when the pandemic hit, and that first couple of months, so we’re talking that’s three years ago, almost on the dot, right? So it was, you know, essentially, the end of March of 2020. And then a lot of the lockdown stuff really hit in April. So in that six weeks after that, our podcast downloads, like, fell off a cliff; we went down like 20 to 25%. And I directly attributed that to the lack of people commuting.
Adam Fulham 28:10
Yeah, you know, I was actually in Italy at the time. So February was not a good place to be then.
Matt DeCoursey 28:14
I’m sorry to hear about that.
Adam Fulham 28:18
Yeah. After China, Italy was the second country to lock down. What was funny, I was actually on the news. So I have been recorded saying this. Every person in the new there’s going to be lockdowns across the world. Everyone knew. I don’t know Ireland, all the other countries sipping close down until a few weeks later. So what a weird time, especially since you have no idea this virus is really dangerous. There are so many question marks.
Matt DeCoursey 28:45
Well, you know, with that, and I know we picked a little bit on the vendors that come to the shows and whatever. That was a very turbulent time because there are a lot of people whose businesses really depend on that kind of personal interaction. Now, I will tell you like, as I mentioned, the love-hate. What I do love is building my business, and I seem to come away from events. Now I go in with a different approach. I’d like to talk about that for a second. Because I think the approach you have as an attendee, or even like an event coordinator, or a speaker, I think that that’s really important. So I’m going to give you a couple of tips or a couple of things. I know you’ve got some gems too. So when I go to an event, and I know there’s gonna be more than 20 people there, because about after you get about 20 people, more than 20 people, it becomes a completely different dynamic, because especially if you know a bunch of people there, so I’m like a reporter. I have one of those little handheld pads where you can flip the paper over, and oh my god, I just will sit there and just write stuff down. I almost look like a journalist. Because if here’s the thing, if it’s a two hour of that, and you’re going, and you have 40 conversations and that, and that’s another thing I try to, to talk to as many people as I can. And I will even say, Hey, I’ve really enjoyed meeting you; I’m gonna go meet some more people, I don’t know. And everybody there is that that’s not a rude way to break off the conversation. What you don’t want to do is go there, find the one person you know, and talk to them the whole time. So but definitely the note-taking thing. Because what I found is, well, I did this because I would go to an event, and I’d meet a bunch of really awesome people, and founders would be like Dude, we should do this. Let’s talk about it. And we’re, like, all hyped about it. And then we leave, and we go back to being busy people. And then we go to the next event, like you mentioned, like three or four months later, and we’re like, Dude, that’s still a really good idea. We should do that. And then you go, yeah, that is just kind of on repeat. So I definitely said, Now, if it’s a smaller event, with less than 20 people, I’m a little more relaxed with that. But as I said, I try to maximize; I keep the conversations straight to the point. I’m not a big, small-talk person. I’m here to meet people and talk to them. I do still like to, like, I don’t know, if I see people I already know, I’m not like, Hey, how’s your recurring revenue? I’m like, Hey, how’s your wife and kids? You know, that’s, that’s where I’ll put that in. But yeah, and I take a lot of notes because I think that if I don’t, I’m not going to, hey, it’s execution and action, people.
Adam Fulham 31:32
That’s what matters, not just talking about my big, big thing recommendation for startups; for God’s sake, wear a t-shirt with your logo on it to go to exactly because you’ll have 500 people may be in the room; I promise you, nobody will be wearing a red t-shirt, not black, maybe, but even read, it could send out more that way. And just put your logo on the front and on the back. And people will notice you, and if they see you at a few events, they’ll know that you’re the guy for a Startup Network Europe or Startup Hustle. I think so too.
Matt DeCoursey 32:03
Hang on. On that note, I gotta tell you that I own somewhere between 40 and 50 pairs of gold sneakers. Right? And I’m known by people who know me; I wear gold shoes. Like shiny-ass robot-looking gold shoes, like the shinier and louder the batter. And I have, and I don’t just have one pair; I got a whole bunch of them. But that hat was on many levels of branding decisions. Because, well, first off, people come up and talk to me all the time. Like unsolicited, they’re like, Dude, this is what I get. But I love the shoes. Also, like, dude, I wish I was brave enough to wear those. And you know, things along those lines, but they remember that. And that, as you said, that’s kind of like a T-shirt with it because I got Full Scale and Startup Hustle with that. But the gold shoe thing sticks. It stuck so much that I’m actually painting myself in a corner, Adam, because if I go to an event and I don’t wear on people like, what are we chopped liver? Do we not matter? Like we’re not even worth a pair of gold shoes. Sorry, but that’s in that same vein. Yes. Stick out and be remembered for the right reasons. Not necessarily the wrong ones.
Adam Fulham 33:16
Yeah, here in Dublin. We have, I think, 70,000 Brazilians. Yeah, so it’s a lot of people.
Matt DeCoursey 33:25
Wear a yellow Pele jersey?
Adam Fulham 33:27
Yeah, exactly. That’s literally what I did. You know, I’d go to a Brazilian club. I’d be the only Irish guy there. And yeah, you stand out, and people make conversation with you. And they’re lovely people with resilience.
Matt DeCoursey 33:39
Yeah. So sorry. I interjected. I didn’t want to get past the memorable thing. What are some of your other gems? Other gems?
Adam Fulham 33:47
Let me think. So I go to a lot of events, just with no ROI in mind; I just want to go into good wine. But if you really want to go make your ROI, any of these big, big events where they haven’t networked up, guys, nobody does it, please just go in the networking app and message 100 or 200 people who are, I don’t know, potential clients or people who want to talk to nobody does it, and it’s such an effective way of actually, you know, getting what you want from the event. So that’s thing number one. Thing Number Two about these events is maybe going to the right ones. I mean, a lot of my events right now or they’re quite general, you know, the Denmark startup conference, Irish startup conference. And where I’m going towards really is, you know, the FinTech conference or the AI conference, because it just means if you’re an AI startup and you’re looking for investment, go to an AI event and then just meet, you talk to 10 investors, all of them are potential investors. But if you go to another event, you might talk to 10 investors, and none of them invest in what you do.
Matt DeCoursey 34:56
So if you’re in an AI startup and you’re going to a meeting for agriculture technology, you might not find it; I got a couple of other things you talked about, like being prepared. You know, I’m not a big fan of the traditional business card the way I used to be. But now, for those of you listening to Adam and me in a virtual studio, we can see each other. I’m going to show you, that’s the back of my phone. So I have a Startup Hustle sticker on the back of my phone that has a QR code right in the middle of it. Because people will be like, Oh, dude, what’s your podcast? And it’s right there. So like, I hate to, you know, scan your phone. I also make this little two-inch by two-inch cards that say Startup Hustle and have a QR code on the back. Like, I tried to create things that are like business cards, one thing that I feel like business cards end up in the trash. And you’re and these cards that I mentioned to our will often, so that’s why I said I also have a pocket full of these stickers. So the Startup Hustle logos, I don’t know, I think it’s cool. It’s evolved a little bit. That used to have a $1 sign with headphones on it and said Startup Hustle around it. And you know, we wanted to create a little call to action. And so that QR code just leads to a link tree kind of thing that will point you to the different things. Another thing too is the author of three books I will often bring. You know, it seems like a good place to give people your book. I’m not trying to sell them; I give them fuckers away, man. I’m like, Here you go. And I’ll tell you why Adam does not feel weird throwing away a book. Yes, you can’t just feel like you feel like an enemy or like progress in life. If you throw away a book, well, I realized that. So I often take the books and you know, I put the little Startup Hustle card and or some other things, and, you know, give the book out to a few different people. And there’s, you know, the reality that it costs me because I print 5000. At a time, it costs me about $1.50 to print a book. And the thing is, like I just went on, I was on local TV recently, and I had been on that TV show five years before my book was still in the green room. You know, like five years later, I was like, Well, I thought that was pretty neat. But here’s the thing, like with the stickers, I see the Startup Hustle stickers all over people’s laptops. And in fact, people come up to me at some of the events like dude, you have more. Do you have any more of the Startup Hustle stickers because I got a new laptop? You know, and that’s good. I think that’s when you’re, you know, make some cool shit and make some fun stuff. Like, people don’t need another pen. You know what? Give me a good pat, give me a good pen with a stylus on the back and like a mechanical pencil and something like that.
Adam Fulham 37:40
Actually, you know, right now, I’m wearing one of my sponsors for one of my events, Scytale. So that you know, I’m wearing their socks right now. There you go.
Matt DeCoursey 37:50
Yeah, but do theirs. Okay, so I’m wearing a Startup Hustle t-shirt. So I have to make my own shirts. I have started several different iterations of Startup Hustle, several Full Scale. And then I actually have these cool shirts that I made. So one of our creative team members said that Full Scale is like an award-winning digital illustrator. So I have him illustrate all these things that are all these shirts, just say founder across them, and they all tell the story of what it’s like to be a founder in one. The O is like a little bomb with a fuse. Let there be another one where there’s a roller coaster; we have a male and a female version of that, another one where the O is a fingerprint. You know, there’s all these different things, and I print these things, and I’ll print 100 of them. And that’s all we’ll ever make. And I am a pain in the ass. I will only give them to founders; if you are not a founder, you have no shot; you’re gonna have to kind of steal it. And good luck. I might not let you, but with those, though, I don’t have my brand all over. I’m okay with that. But they’re soft; they’re comfortable. They’re cool. And they’re unique. And I see people wearing them all the time. And that’s, that’s good. They’re still gonna, remember. Yeah.
Adam Fulham 39:02
Yeah, and, you know, that could cost as much as 10 Pence, and it’s better.
Matt DeCoursey 39:10
It’s like $5. Yeah, I mean, what’s what? So, but you’re in this now, so I take those and just give them out hundreds at a time at five bucks apiece to anybody that was around? No, I pick and choose who I give them to. There is no founder that isn’t worth $5 In my world, you know, I mean, so think about what that business is worth and what that can and what that can end up doing for you. Alright, so here we are. We’re at the end of another episode of Startup Hustle, which was once again brought to you by FullScale.io. With me again today was Adam fall on Adams, the founder, and CEO of Startup Network Europe, go to startup network.eu. They have a great website. You can learn more about what they’re doing. You know, we’ve had listeners In 194 countries, so if you’re, I don’t know how often you’re planning on an event in the US, that’s great, but he’s been all over. You know, as I like to end my episodes of Startup Hustle with the founders freestyle on giving the mic to my guests. I’ll take it when you’re done. And just kind of a quick recap on what we went through, or it’s your freestyle that anything you want to say is good with me?
Adam Fulham 40:23
Yeah, absolutely. I guess the number one piece of advice for anyone listening is there. I think it’s better to read five or 10 Really, really good books than 1000 average books. So, first of all, I recommend maths, of course.
Matt DeCoursey 40:39
You’d be rubbish. No, no.
Adam Fulham 40:44
And I’m trying to think of one book I read recently, which I really, really like. It’s from America, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Really beautiful book, and it’s all about taking self-responsibility. Actively trying to blame yourself for all your problems. And you’ll find out, oh, that was my fault, most of those things, what it means you can solve it.
Matt DeCoursey 41:07
So most of the time, it is our own fault.
Adam Fulham 41:09
Oh, yeah, for sure.
Matt DeCoursey 41:13
Well, thanks for the plug on the book. I’ve actually written three books, I’ve got The Million Dollar Bedroom and Balance Me, and the real estate guy has a successful music career, if you’re not aware. I worked in the music industry before. It was a long time ago at this point. But it’s a passion of mine. And I don’t know; I just believe that bands are startup founders. So a couple of things here. One, I really want to come to a startup in Ireland, and I want to wear my gold shoes. So I can make a bunch of ends of the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Kind of a joke. I feel like that does. And I also want to go to DeCoursey Castle, just because, yeah, one of them. Like I said, one of them is, I think, the one that’s in great disrepair, that’s tiny. It’s still my goal to own either DeCoursey castle, but that one might be the one that is a little more attainable because the other ones are pretty fancy. But yeah, overall, like, here’s the thing is, whether it’s online or in-person, don’t be afraid to ask other people for help. I will tell you that. The more you ask people for help, the more help you will get some of the best advice I’ve ever received. In that regard, someone said to me, “What’s easier climbing the mountain alone is asking those on top to pull you up. Very profound wisdom there. As I left that meeting. I was like, Whoa, dudes, right? And so after that, I spent a lot of time looking up and saying, Hey, can I get a hand? I think you’re gonna find that entrepreneurs really do love helping entrepreneurs; that’s so much of the reason why we do this show. You know, yes, I’d love you to go to FullScale.io and maybe be a client. But listen to some of the things that are out that we’re talking about here because they’re all meant for you. And that’s like, I think that entrepreneurs have gone through a huge amount of pain, getting to where they are, and they love the idea of someone else not having to experience that. I think that that’s very powerful. Now with that, the last real gem that I think I’ve got for you here is, if you ask, it is so much easier to get help from people when you make it easy for them to help you. And you know that so when you go to your event, or you go to anything, and you see someone that you admire, someone you want to talk to you, and you say, hey man, I’d really love to, I’d really love to continue this conversation. I’ll come to you. Tell me where, when, and how long I’ve gotten, and I’ll make it happen. And that’s an example of, like, don’t be like, Hey, I’d love to meet you all the way across town so I can buy you coffee in a crowded place or have a hard time talking, you know, make it easy for people to help you get more help. So you know, overall, I think that’s what the online and other communities are for. And then lastly, if you’re a bad actor, Get the fuck out of these rooms in these communities. No one wants you in there anyway to police these things because, you know, like, we have the Startup Hustle chat group. There’s like, I don’t know, there’s not a huge number of 3400 people in there, but we have that thing on lockdown. Because I don’t want you to have to get everyone else’s spam and bullshit, so get that out. It doesn’t work that way. No one’s paying attention to your shitty post about forex trading or binary options or whatever the fuck you’re trying to sell. No one tears a little defensively.
Adam Fulham 44:33
People just removing it will be much better.
Matt DeCoursey 44:37
Yeah, so, but you know you’re being a good citizen in your community when you don’t buy into that stuff because I don’t think that’s what they’re for. I did have one last thing, man. You mentioned that you go in without trying to maximize your ROI E or ROI. That’s the right approach. Go in and try to get to know people. Be solutions-oriented. I will tell you my best question: what’s the biggest problem? You’re trying to solve it, your business? And that’s a great question to ask people in these kinds of settings. And they will tell you, and it may be, it’s something you can help with. Maybe it isn’t. But if it is something you can help with, now you’re on to something. So yeah, I went a little longer with that. Did you have any other comments on the way out?
Adam Fulham 45:24
No, I think what you said is it all makes sense. Yeah. In terms of policing groups. Look, I’m all for free speech for free speech.
Matt DeCoursey 45:33
I mean, free speech doesn’t mean you get to ruin everyone else’s time with your sales pitch.
Adam Fulham 45:38
Exactly. Or sometimes it’s more complicated than that. Sometimes it’s people who just don’t understand the rules. I’ve been accused of sexism and racism just for implementing rules. I had this guy who didn’t know I was Irish. He said I was being anti-Irish because we did an event called Dublin startup drinks. So you’ll just get these people everywhere in America and Ireland, and they just have a problem with everything, and you remove them. 99% of people will be happy.
Matt DeCoursey 46:11
By the way, one, what do you call an Irish startup that’s all about renewable energy?
Adam Fulham 46:19
Oh, let some more of their green innovators.
Matt DeCoursey 46:22
The green Aveda is good too. And we’re gonna end the show. I’ll see you down the road out of the DeCoursey castle when we have our Startup Hustle extravaganza there.
Adam Fulham 46:34
Cheers. Thanks, man. Appreciate it.