After interviewing many different CEOs and numerous other people involved in Korea’s startup environment, one thing that always seemed to be missing was a regular event to bring people together in a more casual atmosphere. While there are indeed some business networking events around, these are mostly aimed at expats working at larger companies and are generally far too expensive.
Thankfully, DrinkEntrepreneurs, a non-profit organization that aims to build communities of entrepreneurs around the world, has made its way to Seoul. The project was originally started three years ago by three French entrepreneurs in Paris as ApéroEntrepreneurs. They eventually brought the event to San Francisco as ‘DrinkEntrepreneurs’ and were looking to hand the event over to local organizers after a great reception. Edouard Foussier was one of four French organizers who took the helm and continued to grow the event not just in the US, but in cities all over the world including Seoul.
The events are different from other networking parties as they are not privatized and simply take place at a pre-arranged venue. This means that there is no exclusivity to the events and Edouard says that overall they are much more casual too.
“DrinkEntrepreneurs is only about socializing, because we want our attendees to come with only one purpose: to meet each other. That’s why we like to say that we are different from networking events where people are too business-focused. We are against artificial ways of doing it such as speed-dating or having name tags.
We want this experience to be similar to having a beer with friends and their friends. We want our attendees to build strong and trusted relationships, to make friends within the community to whom they will be able to ask for help. In a nutshell, we work on fostering the ‘pay-it-forward’ culture in places other than Silicon Valley.”
The parties are usually held in venues that have a relaxed atmosphere, with enough space to move mingle and sometimes with cool pieces of art to look at. Though not as formal as other events, organizers still take care to make sure that attendees are having a good time and help introduce people to one another.
Edouard, who is currently studying at a business school in Paris, brought DrinkEntrepreneurs to Seoul after taking up the chance to complete an exchange program at KAIST College of Business. So far four events have been held in Seoul and the latest one, which was held on the first day of BeLaunch, attracted around 60 entrepreneurs and members of the startup community. DrinkEntrepreneurs plans to hold at least one event per month and is currently focused on building a community with a variety of people including entrepreneurs, “startupers”, mentors, investors, hackers, designers and students.
“As our events are open to anyone, we also welcome anybody interested in entrepreneurship that wants to know more about it. We want to make sure our attendees will have a blast meeting each other, sharing ideas, and then build long term relationships based on these good memories.”
Eduardo says that Koreans are purpose-driven and often don’t see the value in going to an event that doesn’t have any set agenda or special content to deliver. People often need to see the event referenced in several places before they decide to go along.
“That’s why it is a bit harder to promote a social event here, even for Korean entrepreneurs, but it is part of the game and our mission. The more we need to educate entrepreneurs about the importance of getting out there, mixing with others, building strong and bonded connections, and helping each other (pay it forward culture), the more we feel useful to the community!”
Edouard and his team are now gearing up to launch in Dublin after also starting events in Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuching and Buenos Aires. Check out a video from one of the San Francisco events below.
To find out more about DrinkEntrepreneurs check out their Facebook page.