Why startup events are bad for you

Any given day in NYC (where I live), there are 10 – 20 startup related events. If you didn’t want to talk to any non-startup people each day, you could probably do all of your socializing at startup events, too.

It’s natural for people who spend most of their waking hours working on a startup to want to hang out with other people doing the same. But this is a really bad idea when it comes to building your product.

First, startup people are not normal. Face it. Your customers are most likely not other startup people. Building something that the startup community will find cool will only get you so far with the rest of the world.

I’m not saying don’t go to any startup events. I’m saying they shouldn’t be the main events you go to. If you’re building a food related startup, you should talk to non-technical foodies who might be your users. Talk to chefs, restaurant managers, street stall owners, food bloggers, farmers. If you’re building an educational startup, hang out with teachers, principals, even students. What is their life like? What do they need?

One of the guys who took Startups Unplugged did just that for his Electronic Medical Records service. He met doctors and understood how the current EMR solutions work. Afterward, he ended up completely changing the way he was designing his service. By his admission, he never would have figured that out if he didn’t go meet doctors.

Get out there and talk to users.