I wrote this in July'08 but for a lot of reasons it had to wait to see the
light of the day... or maybe attending yet-another-OCC meet today motivated me
enough to push out my draft, finally
What is OCC?
OpenCoffee Club is a regular, open and informal meeting place for people
involved in bootstrapping or yet-another-startup to meet. It was started in
London by Saul
Klein and now has mushroomed into various independent OCC groups around the
world (and we still keep Saul in the loop). In Bangalore Vaibhav and Ramjee
sowed the initial seeds with a mailing list in August 2007 and a year on we
have grown and how !!! Being a 'social networking site challenged' person, i
categorize myself in the old-fashioned mailing list kinda person vis-a-vis
reading TEXT mails in one convenient place - my mailbox BUT yet we needed a
space online. They have a website, a
wiki and a blog ; in addition to the mailing list
which has grown to 800 members in the last year. wOw !!
OCC is purely volunteer driven and each of us is a stakeholder in promoting
it, expanding it and creating a buzz so to speak. It does not own or have a
permanent meeting space but (going by Saul's initial idea) our meetings are
very regular. In Bangalore we meet biweekly, on Sunday's at 10.30AM at venues
which alternate quite a bit so keep track of the same on the m-list (an
existing member has to invite you). Did I mention that its a FREE (as in cost)
event to attend.
OCC meets are by nature unstructured and un-conference like. So we DONT have
formal presentations (too boring, right?), ppt's or long lectures or product
demos. Typically at one of these meets you can introduce and talk about
yourself, your idea (or the lack of it :-P), find a co-founder, jam up with a
person who is just as lost as you are and find direction, get answers or
feedback for your product and idea, criticise an idea, find incubators for your idea, share unsolicited
advice with others, or get another perspective for your product from a complete
stranger and the fun-nest part is the networking, the meeting, the getting to
know people. It definitely gives you a perspective of all the good stuff that
is happening out there and opens your mind to various possibilities. So dont be
very surprised to find a person talking about YOUR great Idea that s/he is
already working on ... it happens, all the time !!
Bootstrapping entrepreneurs many have similar issues and if you are an
existing, or doubtful, yet wannabe entrepreneur and want to meet-up with like
minded crazy people, be sure to show up for the biweekly Sunday meets. Being a
part of the OCC ecosystem means you can go to cities all over the world and get
to know more people, know which places (and at what times) you will most
likely meet other entrepreneurs. We also have many venture capital firm
partners who are regulars at some of these meets. Bangalore with its technology
professionals, IT companies and bootstrapping entrepreneurs is the hot-spot for
angel investors (which we have less of in India), incubators and VC's.
Why is OCC different ??
The USP of OCC is its free-flowing, unconference style format and
is one of the main attractions for me. I find formal events which tend to
strait-jacket the listener to listen to
yet-another-technical-product-presentation very boring, but that's me. Luckily
we have a lot of other pro-entrepreneur events catering to different tastes and
a mighty bit of of overlap, in terms of people, with Barcamp and
Headstart/Startup Saturday, although to their credit they have a different
format and cater to a different niche in the entrepreneur ecosystem. Just like
HS and Barcamp, OCC is a FREE networking event and we dont charge you to come
and go yakkity- yak about your cool startup, product or service.
Tips to Remember !!
As is with any unconference-styled event, the signal-to-noise ratio is quite
high and at times it can get frustrating when people misuse the platform. Here
are some tips to guide you to being unto others as you would like them to be to
you Please remember :
+ Dont spam the list : OCC is not a medium or platform to advertise
yourself, or your company or your product/service for free or a job portal so
please dont spam 800 people with CV's. Its going to annoy 800+ members and just
imagine if each of them decided to return the favor. Sounds scary doesnt it? --
so help us help you create value for your time and ours too !
+ Volunteer : Since we function purely on self-driven adrenalin, drive and
initiative we are never short on ideas but are constantly short on willing
hands to help us out. These could be in the form of creating content for the
website, or adding content to the
wiki or the blog.
+ @Meets : If the meet is at a local restaurant/bar/club, please do remember
that the restaurant/club owner is doing us a favor by allowing the group to use
his premises for 2 hours and at the very least we should BUY drinks or food
(and please SETTLE the BILL before you leave) in exchange for having used THEIR
space for more than 2 hours.
Pan India network !
OCC is now present in 8 cities in India - Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai, Pune,
Hyderabad, Delhi, Noida, Kolkata. Here is a list of the existing OCC-India
network. If I have missed any , please leave a comment. If you want to start
one in your city, go ahead and tell us about it so we can keep a track of how
OCC-India (feed for the pan-Indian OCC network) : http://pipes.yahoo.com/siddhi/occindia
Delhi ~ http://occdelhi.ning.com/main/
Noida ~ http://groups.google.com/group/occnoida/about
Kolkata ~ http://groups.google.com/group/occ-kolkata/about
Pune ~ http://punestartups.ning.com/
Hyderabad ~ http://hyderabadopencoffee.ning.com/
Bangalore ~ http://groups.google.com/group/bangaloreocc
Chennai ~ http://chennaiopencoffee.ning.com/
Mumbai ~ http://groups.google.com/group/opencoffeeclubatmumbai/
OCC-Mumbai is missing so please leave a comment if you have the
link. [updated thanks to Mitesh]
In summation, at OCC there are no experts doling out gyan (knowledge/advice)
since each of us helps bolster the other person by creating a shareable network
of knowledge and an interactive ecosystem. So go for it !!