Create a Startups Forum (“Open Coffee Club”) in your locality

Santosh Dawara, one of the founders of (and the primary driver behind) Pune Open Coffee Club, the very successful forum for Pune Startups, is challenging the entrepreneurs of Pune to create smaller Open Coffee Clubs for each region of the City. The idea being that Pune’s startup ecosystem is big enough that it can support independent events for Aundh/Baner, or Koregaon Park (which is already active), or Kothrud.

The Pune Open Coffee Club (and PuneTech) will support and publicize your initiative, and hopefully this will be the start of something big. This is your chance to strengthen the startups ecosystem in your area, and in the process help yourself by helping others.

Here is Santosh’s message:

The Pune Startup eco-system has taken on a new life and has been growing in leaps and bounds. Startup events have been drawing record audiences of 100+ entrepreneurs and enthusiasts every time. I believe this is a story unique to amchi Pune and credit is really due to those supporting the eco-system by attending events, making useful contributions by speaking, organizing and making monetary donations. A special word goes out to the Startup Saturday folks who are putting together great events besides the POCC.

Here’s an opportunity for all of us to jumpstart an Open Coffee Club in our own way and share in this phenomenon.

For the month of March I would like to invite you to create an Open Coffee Club in your own locality.

Why do this? Originally, the Open Coffee Club was really a small group of entrepreneurs who met up regularly at a coffee shop to network, get to know each other and help each other out. The Pune Open Coffee Club is now just too big to ever meet at a single cafe, or for one person to run. However, the need for a local support group of entrepreneurs has not gone away.

To make it easy for you to get the group started, I am offering to collect all the local OCC’s and spread the word to all the entrepreneurs on informing them about the local groups, when and where they plan to meet so that they can select the most convenient or interesting group.

If you are interested in getting an OCC up and running, all you need to do is the following:

  • Select a date + time + coffee shop in your area
  • Add the event on
  • Ensure that you have enabled RSVP’s on the event to collect the contact information of all those interested in your OCC
  • E-mail me at [sdawara at gmail dot com] with the link to the new event
  • I’ll make sure the word gets out
  • Just show up at the appointed date and time and be yourself
  • Make sure your personal profile has a clear photograph so people can recognize you!

For example,

Grubshup Cafe Open Coffee Club,

Law College Road,

co-ordinator: “Your Name”

“Date / Time”

Sounds interesting? Look forward to getting in touch with you!

I would add the following tips:

  • Use the Pune Startups mailing list to find other founders in your vicinity, and publicize your event.
  • Use the PuneTech Calendar to ensure that your event does not clash with another important event
  • In my experience, establishing a regular venue is one of the most important things you can do. That allows you and other people to schedule an event with a minimum of fuss. The venue could be a coffee shop as Santosh suggests, or it could be a meeting room in some startup or company that is generous enough to allow their premises to be used. Or you can use an old school or a college.
  • Coffee/snacks/tea etc. are not a requirement for an event. Somehow, I’ve noticed that many people feel that organizing snacks, and creating posters, and other paraphernalia is necessary for holding an event. These things add significant overhead, not to mention expenses, and don’t really add that much value to events. I’ve found that for sustaining volunteer driven forums like open coffee clubs, doing away with all these overheads is the best thing, and reduces the effort it takes to organize the event.
  • Don’t give up too early. The first few events will have only a few people attending. Keep at it, and as long as you’re having meaningful conversations at the events, you will succeed eventually.

Updates: The following POCC branches have been created so far. They’re listed below with the date of the first meeting and the person who took the initiative to start the branch.

MARCH 19th:
Aundh Open Coffee Club
to RSVP and to see who is attending:
Pimpri-Chinchwad Open Coffee Club
18 are attending
to RSVP and to see who is attending:
MARCH 26th:
Kothrud Open Coffee Club
31 are attending
to RSVP and to see who is attending:
APRIL 2nd:
Tilak Road Open Coffee Club
to RSVP and to see who is attending:
Yet to meet:
Kalyani Nagar Open Coffee Club
To join the group and fix up a meeting:
Pashan-Sus Road Open Coffee Club
To join the group and fix up a meeting:

7 thoughts on “Create a Startups Forum (“Open Coffee Club”) in your locality

  1. As a starting point, do you want to provide some guidelines for what the geo areas should be? If this is left to a many2many discussion, perhaps we’ll not have a resolution.

    Some obvious candidates are
    * Northwest of City: Aundh, Baner, Pashan etc
    * Southwest of City: Kothrud, Karvenagar, Law College Rd, etc
    * Northeast: Koregaon Park, Kalyaninagar, etc
    * Southeast quadrant

    1. I would say that this level of “planning” or many2many discussion are not needed and would be counterproductive – this is best done as an activity started by enthusiastic and driven people. Areas where such people exist will automatically get OCCs and areas without will not.

  2. Cool post! Love the part where you “challenge” the startups to make something happen!

    I too am keen on allowing the more interested entrepreneurs coalesce in their own local areas. No need to start divving up Pune city.

    PS. Just heard from Mayuresh today that he wants to do POCC-Kothrud!

    1. @Santosh, I was just channeling you 🙂

      And, yes, it’s great that Mayuresh has started POCC-Kothrud. I’ve already updated the post with that info. Hope to see many more there soon.

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