I’ve gotten a bit tired of going to events populated by all the usual suspects. I am meeting lots of new people through this blog, tumblr, twitter, etc but I have not been able to say the same thing about the real world events I’ve been attending.

So I’ve decided to do something about that.

Today I did two meetups that were both the kind of thing I want to do more of.

Open Coffee

At open coffee nyc

There are apparently open coffees all over the country and all over the world. Here in NYC, there is a New York Open Coffee for entrepreneurs every Thursday at 9:15am at Taralucci (what Peter Kafka of Alley Insider calls the "USV Cafeteria"). Nicholas Butterworth runs this open coffee and he uses Meetup to organize it. Here’s the meetup page if you want to join.

I liked this one a lot because I only knew two of the eight people who attended. The conversation was lively and the coffee at Taralucci is among the best in the city. It lasted an hour. There’s no way I can go every Thursday and it seems like most people don’t do that. But I do hope to attend at least once a month.

Shake Shack Flash Mob

Shake shack meetup

This one was my idea. Last week I wanted to go to the Shake Shack but nobody was around here in the office. So I twittered about it and six people showed up. We decided then and there to create a twitter account called Shake Shack. Now anytime anyone is in the same shoes as I was last week, they simply send a twitter to @shakeshack saying when they think they’ll be at the front of the line and everyone who follows shakeshack on twitter will be alerted. I did it again today and we had about ten people. It was a glorious day and the conversation was great. I hope these become regular events throughout the summer. It’s great because only one person has to stand in line and anyone can join as long as they are up for a group lunch with fun people and lively discussion.

If you know of other ideas like this here in NYC or elsewhere, please leave a comment so we can all start meeting new people and talking about new ideas.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. John Boyd

    Hi Fred -Try posting a public invite on which is a networking tool that focuses on developing your business and social networks through face-to-face meetings, whether traveling or near home or work. You can describe the type of people you wish to meet in your invite. We’ll notify you when someone accepts. You can then approve or decline their acceptance for any reason -it’s entirely up to you. So the inviter controls who attends the meeting (coffee, lunch, drinks, etc) and whether the meeting happens. We’re still in beta and have improvements in the pipeline (including a possible rename), but we’re starting to get some traction. In any event, its free. Regards, John

  2. Jesse Chenard

    It really was a great impromptu meetup with some interesting folks. I only knew about 3 of the people there and really enjoyed meeting the others.Am going to check out the open coffee next week as well. Thanks again for the invite to the shack and for the heads up on open coffee.Cheers!

    1. Nate Westheimer

      Good to see you again Jesse. We’re spoiled for being so close to L’Shack. See you there again soon.

  3. Jim

    Hey – Do you know of any Open Coffees in Chicago?

    1. khylek

      I’m just north of the city, and am not aware of any. You’d think it’d be easy enough to drum up interest though. I think you just volunteered.

  4. obscurelyfamous

    Someone start a Shake Shack equivalent account for San Francisco.

    1. mdoeff

      Count me in. Now who’s going to start the Twitter ID and where are we meeting? How about @TaylorsRefresher (at the Ferry Building) or @PhilzCoffee?

  5. simondodson

    jealous jealous jealous

  6. James

    How about an open coffee in San Francisco? Anyone know of one going on? If NYC has one we’ve got to have one, right?

  7. Rob Long

    This is a great idea. Most lunches and coffees we have in Hollywood are stately, orchestrated events. Someone is either being wooed, or apologized to, or fired, or screwed. And that leaves very little time for the kind of semi-random meeting and conversation that can lead to interesting things. Of course, the kind of thing you’re describing, Fred, is a very egalitarian low-protocol event — something that might not catch on here in the 310 area code. That said, any Angelenos interested in seeing how this might work?

    1. patwoodward

      @RobI’m an Angeleno. What about a meetup at the Studio Cafe or Priscilla’s for peeps in the valley? Both of these places are near the studios.Since LA is so spread out it might be good to have a hollywood location as well.

    2. harpos_blues

      I’d be interested in mid-wilshire, culver city or H’wood. I don’t get out to the valley much anymore. But, yes Angelenos unite! 🙂

  8. Guest

    Hey, in London (Saul rocks!) People in the UK drink soooo much (coffee, alcohol, fluids in general…), and I had an off hand conversation with a friend in my sports club this weekend. He said he would rather have a strawberry milkshake than an alcoholic drink…and I thought of pressure…just good stuff…

  9. Joseph O'Connell

    Shake Shack idea — very cool. Following on twitter now; hope to meet up with you guys there sometime soon.

  10. kenberger

    ah now I see: @shakeshack is a handle to be twittered to signal the flashmob. Not understanding that earlier today, I thought it was a priv msg to Danny Meyer or someone to meet you there!Count on me to initiate roundups too at some point using this.Although I do wonder what the folks queued behind the initiator will feel about the swarm of folks jumping ahead of them.

  11. Alex Iskold

    Thats awesome Fred! Will try to added one of the coffee meetups.

  12. Sylvain Carle

    @Daniel Ha : let’s call something for next week during web2expo. I will be in SF all week and it was great meeting you last time at Cafe Sapore (we need to continue this discussion about disqus comments and praized places)… what about something around moscone center monday or tuesday? Email me or D msg me on twitter @afrognthevalley.

  13. Anthony Stevens

    Seattle has an active Open Coffee every Tuesday morning. It was started by Andy Sack ( Check it out at….

  14. eran lagon

    Sounds like a good and fun idea.If you’re ever in Tel-Aviv, check out for iDrink ( – It’s a meetup for local and international entrepreneurs, investors, and bloggers with a very loose atmosphere. Last time Robert Scoble, Sarah Lacy, Laurent haug, Jose Da Moral, and many others have attended, and it was fantastic.I believe one can learn and gain so much from non-formal events like this and like OpenCoffee, especially young/new entrepreneurs.disclaimer – I’m one of the organizers (we’re a non-profit).

  15. Bhasker V Kode

    Ning ( has infact been a nice place to start OCC’s , especially here in India. It almost takes the corridor talk into a seperate event where people just hang around and network, which is arguably more compelling than the slides & shwag associated with barcamps.Keep Clicking,Bhasker V Kodefrom Pune, India (

  16. JC

    Fred,Sorry I couldn’t make it to either of these events. I wanted to talk with you about a startup I’m advising who I believe sent you an email intro a week or so ago. Check your email as its an interesting opp you should take a closer look at.

  17. Saul Klein

    Fred, glad you enjoyed OpenCoffee – there are now over 80 clubs going on around the world since we kicked off in London last year. If people are interested, please check out to see where you local event is and if you don;t see one – start one 🙂

  18. kortina

    Sounds fun. I’ll definitely come check out some of these soon (especially the outdoor ones–another glorious day today in NYC).

  19. Peas and Nuts

    That’s Definitely pretty cool. So I work in the Online Marketing department. And work a lot of web analytics. I just found out about this group where a bunch of the web analytics people who work around midtown get together to hang out, share best practices, etc. It used to be a happy hour, but now it’s more of a lunch/coffee so that it’s more focused on analytics. But the happy hours are fun too. It’s called Web Analytics Wednesdays…I’m thinking about starting Marketing Mondays and get all of the web marketers together.

  20. Alex

    Cool idea.I don’t use Twit, but, I’m seeing it really coming on strong.

  21. Jim Louderback

    OK, maybe I’m just obsessive about lines, but imagine here I am in the Shake Shack line, having waited for 20 minutes, my turn is next, and then suddenly 10 guys join the one person in line in front of me to order… and my imminent vitamin creamsicle shake orgy gets pushed back another 10 minutes because of the flash mob that just developed in front of me.Doesn’t that seem like, well, cheating?Otherwise, love the concepts!jim

    1. fredwilson

      That’s a good point and we’ll have to be mindful of it.The fact is that assistants are often sent down to shake shack with large orders and wait in line for takeoutSo this is already an issue (the big order right in front of you)To date (we’ve only done it twice), most people show up early, wait in line together, and eat togetherBut clearly you can use this to cut the line and we have to be careful not to abuse thatFred

      1. Eben Thurston

        I see this becoming very popular very quickly. Look how far it has already come since your ‘meet me at shake shack’ tweet last week. I’ll try to make the next one.It would also be cool to move it around to various spots but the shack is tough to beat.

      2. Jim Louderback

        hehe, you are forgiven!jim

  22. Jeff Strank

    HI Fred,Although not (usually) tech-only or startup-only, is currently sponsoring after-work business/social networking events in 15 cities. Each of events is normally attended by 400-600+ young professionals. Our NYC event last Wednesday (in conjunction with Kaplan Test Prep) was attended by more than 600, as was our event last Thursday in Atlanta in conjunction with Here’s a video of the latter event (… and some blog/Twitter coverage (http://mostlymedia.wordpres…. If you are interested in attending, please let me know.Thanks,Jeff StrankNetParty

  23. johndodds

    I wonder if these events have a limited shelf-life – we used to have a great one in London (coffee morning at the breakfast club) which flourished from 2006 to the end of 2007 and was then disbanded because it had become too much of a “thing”. The key is the informality and that doesn’t last forever.