Inside The SXSW Startup Meat Market

“Hi, hey, what have you built?” Speed dating for startups is just as awkward as it sounds.

"Hey. So yah, we're here. What's going on?" The first date I eavesdropped on didn't sound like it was going very well. A few tables down, two young guys were running through the basics. "Where are you from?"

"San Fran."

"Oh amazing, me too!"

If you're not good at actual speed dating — and who is? — then you'll probably feel a bit awkward at Co-Founder Speed Dating, an event held every year at SXSW to help people find startup partners. This year it's in a Hilton conference room, which feels about right.

This is SXSW boiled down to concentrate: A few dozen people in a room, trading business cards and trying to figure out if anyone else might be able to help make them rich. It's like a real-life LinkedIn. In a way, it's refreshingly honest.

The rules are simple. To register, you've got to answer a few blunt questions: Do you already have an idea? If we let you in, will you definitely come? Can we have a link to you LinkedIn profile? Once you've been accepted, you take a seat. The clock starts. You've got three minutes with each person. Every rotation starts with a hearty handshake and ends with a hearty handshake.

As in regular speed dating, you're not really trying to get to know the people you're sitting across; you're just trying to see if you should talk to them again — or "follow up," in startup parlance. Still though, it seems like people spend a lot of time trying to figure out if the pairing even makes sense: Are you trying to find a partner, or join a company? Can you code? Have you ever started a company before? It's like showing up at speed dating and having to ask everyone you sit down with, "so wait, are you straight?"

View Entire List ›


BuzzFeed - Latest