Last Thursday, 100+ executives, entrepreneurs, angels and VCs came together at the MIT Enterprise Forum in Rice Village. Held at The Eighteenth Cocktail, a new bar on Bissonnet, the event was packed and the hour happy as drinks and laughs were steady flowing.
The diversity of the crowd pushed conversations in all directions, from thermodynamics to organic pecans to that good ol’ Texas oil and gas. And as the night went on, some conversations became a little more candid.
There were passionate entrepreneurs seeking advice about their startups. New-to-Houston transplants trying to build their network and adjust to the city. And even people looking for career changes while asking those big, soul-searching questions that resonate with all driven hearts…“What change am I actually going to bring to the world?”
But there was one conversation really struck me. While I watched complete strangers find common ground, I commented on the importance of bringing people from all industries together. A young entrepreneur fresh out of med school replied, “Yeah, I get what you’re trying to do with Startup Houston and bring people together, but I really don’t have time to talk to people that are doing things I’m not interested in.”
So what are we trying to do here?
Most people in the room were looking to make connections, but they also kept an open mind. They started out as strangers talking about their worlds, and soon found parallels in their work and their personal lives. They were getting to know one another. And as relationships develop over time around areas of mutual respect, a diverse and dynamic community evolves.
While the med student turned entrepreneur can make a case that he doesn’t have the time to meet people outside of his field, I’d argue that he’s missing the bigger opportunity of learning from other people. You can’t control where a random conversation with a stranger takes you. And after talking to people all night about so many great things happening in Houston, why would you want to?