Years ago, we launched the Big Ass Social Happy Hour (BASHH) in Austin, successfully inspiring folks to get off of social media and out into the world. It was still strange to meet people from the internet back then, but we made it safe and fun, and normalized it.
Fast forward to today, 16 years later, and we’re still Austin’s favorite casual tech networking event and have worked hard to contribute meaningfully to the city’s ecosystem while attracting new folks and keeping industry veterans. Not only is it one of the few events still around, “post-covid,” but we’re still growing.
We’ve had hundreds of requests over the years for a speed networking version of BASHH, but honestly, we pushed back because going to a room filled with people trying to sell you something and throw business cards at you like a twisted game of darts? That sounded gawd awful.
But you kept asking, so we had to pour all of our creativity into how to get folks networking in a laser focused way without implementing all of the outdated notions of speed networking. So, we tore it down to the studs so to speak, and built something that even WE would love to go to as social anxiety-ridden introverts.
Introducing BASHH: Saturday Morning Speedrun Edition
Why “Speedrun” in the title? It’s not about the timing, it’s a gaming reference wherein a player has to finish a level or game in the shortest amount of time possible, therefore requiring optimization of time, improved strategies, and deep knowledge of surroundings.
In June, we secretly launched our first BASHH Speedrun pilot event with the theme being creative professionals. We didn’t announce it, we didn’t promote it, we just sent out a few direct messages to people we knew would benefit from being gathered together, and invited folks to a gorgeous outdoor patio at a brand new coffee spot in town.
We ended up with almost double the amount of people we had expected, so we got a true test run of the flow (and attrition rates). Then, we sent out a lengthy evaluation questionnaire seeking feedback so we can really get it right at launch.
So many people responded that it felt like we’d already been hosting this style of event for years. All questions that asked for a rating review of five stars? They averaged five stars. Wow.
I loved meeting new people and connecting to discuss opportunities to collaborate and share conversation. – Kristopher Ray Bolleter
A secret side mission
When designing this event, we really pushed ourselves to secretly design it in a way that appeals to an audience we typically can’t, because BASHH is currently hosted at a brewery.
That audience? People that don’t drink. While plenty of people attend BASHH that don’t drink, some folks simply can’t because it’s a strong trigger for them. Inclusivity has always been mission critical for us, and this is one more way we quietly walk the walk.
So instead of creating an event about sobriety or recovery, we got creative in timing, structure, and location so we can include that community in a normal networking event in an elegant, subtle manner.
How to get invited to a future Speedrun
Our next event is July, and the focus this time is on software engineers.
If you’re a software engineer, we invite you to come join us and make connections with people that could be your next boss, your next hire, your next sounding board, your next mentor or mentee, your next collaborator, your next pal.
If you’d like to be included in future BASHH Speedrun events, we plan on expanding to all corners of the industry, as well as targeting topics (not just industries). We’ll be pushing the boundaries of what this kind of event can accomplish, and we hope you’ll join us!