jamesguptaRecently we had a really lovely message from James Gupta, the Founder of Synap, an online education platform that uses AI algorithms and psychology research to enhance the way students and professionals learn. James attributes joining an EdTech dinner in June last year as the starting point of a chain reaction of meetings, events and business decisions which have pushed his business to a completely different place. Here is his account of what sets TableCrowd dinners apart from regular networking events, and what he has got out of attending a dinner:

Networking is crucial in any business, but perhaps especially so in the early days when all you have is an idea and you’re looking to make the connections that will help propel your idea to the next stage.

The startup world is crowded – and there’s certainly no shortage of conferences, pitching contests and other ‘networking’ events, nor of early stage companies attending them and trying desperately to ‘get noticed’. However, such events can often feel fruitless – with events getting bigger, noisier and more expensive, attracting new entrepreneurs in the tens of thousands (and often charging tens of thousands) on the promise of meeting investors, partners and co-founders.

As someone who has attended a number of these events now, I started to feel that networking was purely a ‘number’s game’, where the idea was simply to go to as many events, give out as many flyers or business cards as possible and hope something came out of it. The old ‘throw enough **** and see what sticks’ method. Whilst this method can work, it’s an incredibly ineffective use of your time, money and energy – all of which are likely to be in short supply when you’re running a startup.

Fortunately, last year I discovered Tablecrowd and decided to give it a try. Their ‘EdTech Dinner’ promised a more focused form of networking over a 2 course meal and some wine for just £30 or so. It almost sounded too good to be true, but after handing over £1,000 for a stand in the ‘startup hall’ of an international summit recently, I was willing to give it a try, and I’m glad I did because it was hands down the best networking event I’ve ever been to.

There was just over 30 people there, but the focused and curated nature of the event allowed all of us to make real connections. Amongst those present were angel investors, VC’s, media representatives, teachers, technologists and entrepreneurs – and the informal, focused nature of the event meant that it was less of a race to give everyone your business card, and more of a genuine ‘get to know each other’ evening.

Attending the event put me in touch with a range of people, many of whom I am still in contact with and meet regularly – it helped us get our very early stage idea in front of VCs, and helped to pave the way for future partnerships down the road. I spoke to far fewer people than I usually would at a 3 hour networking event, but made far more actual ‘connections’ out of it as a result, and enjoyed an actual sit-down meal.

A year after attending the event, my company, Synap has gone through a series of meetings and pivots which has helped to shape it into something truly exciting, and this has been in no small part due to the one Tablecrowd event we attended. If you’re looking to build connections for your company, my strong advice to you would be to ditch the ‘bigger is better’ approach to networking, and look at the smaller, more focused and better quality networking offered by Tablecrowd.

synapWe were blown away by James’ lovely message to us and asked if he would mind sharing with our community his thoughts on TableCrowd. With the Edtech dinner, in the eyes of James, being the catalyst for where his business is now, we’re so pleased to share that  Synap is currently crowdfunding on Crowdcube and, to date, has raised 84% of its £180,000 target – they have 6 days left! If you’d like to learn more or invest in Synap (starting from just £10!) visit their pitch page!

As you know, we’re all about promoting our community and helping them #spreadtheword about what’s happening with their business. If you have news to share, please tweet or email us [hello@tablecrowd.com] and we will do our best to get the word out for you.