In the age of Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin, where superficial connections are seemingly so easily formed, it is now more than ever we should invest in building our networks and harnessing the value of authentic human connections that develop offline.
In his renowned best selling book “The Tipping Point” Malcolm Gladwell popularised the adjective ‘maven’.
A maven is a trusted expert in a particular field who seeks to pass knowledge onto others. Gladwell suggests ‘mavens’ work most effectively in collaboration with social influencers, being the ones to connect people, spot and spur on new trends.
Networking events used to conjure scenes of large clinical conference halls, luke warm vinaigrette wine and calculating how long to engage in pleasantries with strangers alien to your social circles before darting of to the loo. Kate Jackson, CEO of TableCrowd has made strides in changing this narrative….
Tell us about your business venture TableCrowd:
I’m co-founder and CEO of TableCrowd, a platform for business networking dinners for entrepreneurs and professionals. Our dinners are based around different industries (for example, fintech, education or travel) or after dinner speakers with an interesting story or particular expertise to share. Our dinners are for 10-40 people and are hosted in restaurants (usually private dining rooms). For a quick overview, you can see our video here
What inspired you to start?
I co-founded my first company in 2006. It is a meeting and parties website, where our members can convert online relationships into real world relationships, but in a social context. Seeing first hand the success of this online to offline trend, we saw an opportunity for a similar concept but with more intimate events at restaurants – and TableCrowd was born!
What are your aims for the future?
We want to continue to provide curated networking experiences that allow our community to develop quality relationships. From across the dinner table, partnerships have been formed, new clients have been engaged, teams have been grown and new business opportunities have been discovered. From early 2015, we will be launching in other cities across the UK, followed by other cities internationally.
Who inspires you?
Apart from my mum of course… many of the people that dine with us. This includes of course our after dinner speakers, who share their stories. But I’ve also lost count of the number of people I’ve first met at TableCrowd dinners when they are at the very early stages with an idea, who I later see all over the press. It’s amazing!
What does a typical day in the life of Kate Jackson look like?
Well if you Google me, you’ll see that I’m usually investigating crime (Kate Jackson was one of original Charlie’s Angels)… Apart from that, the exciting thing about what I do is that there’s no typical day. I might be planning dinners, preparing marketing campaigns or working on product development. It’s so varied and I’m always wishing there were more hours, not craving the end of the working day.
What excites you about your business?
Networks are vital for success and there’s no better way to build them than over food. Everyone likes going out for dinner and everyone enjoys meeting people relevant to their life. We’re redefining business networking as something you can enjoy. You can read more about what it’s like here.
What 3 challenges have you faced in your venture date?
I work with my brother and neither of us were technical at the start. Having a third co-founder sibling that was a developer would have been useful. We have now worked with our wonderful development team for years, so this is no longer a problem.
Funding is always a challenge and it’s very time consuming. It sometimes feels like securing funding is more difficult that it would be to succeed with the business once the funding is secured!
Lack of time – caused by lack of resources. Clearly this one is solved with adequate funding – see above!
Can you share any books/websites/communities that you interact with regularly as part of your venture.
A book that has shaped the way I organise my time is “Getting things done” by David Allen.
For technology and startup news, I read and subscribe to Tech City News.
To help spread the word about our business networking dinners, we use event publishing platform‘evvnt’.