We held the first Des Moines Startup Drinks on a warm Tuesday evening in March 2010 (pictured above). We set up on the rooftop deck at Tally's in Beaverdale and had 50 or so members of the community join in that evening for good conversation and free beer.
By my rough count, we've had 40 of these meetups in Des Moines since. We changed venues a few times, attendance dipped and spiked and then dipped again, and the other two original organizers stepped away for various reasons. At the end of 2013, three plus years later, I'd run out of energy for the event. It had become a recurring task rather than something that I was looking forward to each month. It wasn't growing and I wasn't interested in figuring out how to change that. I realized that I needed to hand over the reins.
In January, I asked the Startup Iowa Facebook group (one of the most active places for online discussion about the Iowa Startup Community) if someone wanted to take over Startup Drinks.
Fortunately, Ben McDougal stepped up and today announced the relaunch of the event on March 20 (almost exactly four years to the day from the original meetup). He's pouring his energy into it; he already has sponsors on board and launched a new brand with a new web and Twitter presence (and a refreshed Facebook one) to match.
Its early in the process but I think it's a great example of how new blood can revive a program that had stagnated. I was burned out on organizing Startup Drinks (which is something that is hard for me to admit) and its obvious that was effecting the event itself. Succession in volunteer-lead community-oriented events like this is important to the evolution of the Iowa startup community. Obviously, some events will run their course over time. We shouldn't prop these up just for their own sake. However, we shouldn't let good events die just because the organizer is done with it.
(Side note: looking back on this I wish I'd connected with Ben on this idea last Fall so that he had a running start and we didn't have a break in January & February)
If you're in the Des Moines-area and have an interest in Startup Drinks - come out and join us March 20th at 5 p.m. at Sakari Sushi Lounge.
Photo Credit: Shane Reiser.