Entrepreneur, Meet Developer: Exploring Speed Networking with BizDatesTech

Entrepreneurs love developers. With the growth of the app economy, mobile development, and the social web, good software engineers and computer scientists are becoming more and more sought after.

The average starting package for a software engineer in Silicon Valley has risen from $85,000 in 2008 to $98,000 this year, despite the country’s flat economy, according to data from Glassdoor. At Microsoft, software engineers can start at $128,000, and that’s before options and bonuses. At Facebook, it’s $138,000; at Apple, it’s $149,000; and at Google, it’s $151,000.

These tech giants are on the hunt for the best talent, and aren’t afraid to shell out some handsome rewards to secure it. Unfortunately, not everyone has those kinds of resources to throw around, especially not people who are just starting off their own businesses.

Two entrepreneurs from Western University, Peter Sum and Keane Tan, figured they’d take a more creative approach to find a tech partner for their own crowd-sourced philanthropy awareness project Atlas. They decided to organize a different type of networking event to find the best tech talent in town.

The idea was to gather experts in business and specialists in technology, and set up a speed-dating type networking event. The event was designed to allow for cross-interaction between these two groups in a casual one-on-one setting.

The Atlas team pre-arranged pairings so that guests would have the opportunity to interact with people from a variety of backgrounds. This diversity allowed for a lot of organic conversation to flow, and attendees could be found sharing stories, advice, and jokes in groups.

Amongst attendees were Larry Lau and Corey Dubeau from ATMOS Marketing, as well as Bryn Jones and Sajjad Haiderali from PalmPass, two pairs of finalists in the Venture London Business Competition.

There are tons of advantages to speed networking: you’re almost guaranteed to meet more people than you would typically in the same amount of time using traditional networking. BizDatesTech was no exception to that. It also means that conversations don’t get dragged out, as the time limit will take care of the undesirable job of bowing out of a conversation. (This second factor plays into the first one.)

The beauty of having such an intimate group of guests was that attendees were not worried about trying to stand out, or being forgotten; this is a disadvantage that speed networking typically holds. In fact, there wasn’t much tension at all with people spamming business cards or selling. Rather, it was pretty relaxed and allowed for a free-flow stream of ideas.

The Atlas team is looking to continue this type of event, and plans to take their show on the road to Waterloo and Toronto. Keep your eyes peeled, and have a gander at their events.