One great thing about Montreal is that there is a huge variety of people and groups that offer various events for socializing, networking or good ol’ fashioned learning. One regular event that I’ve attended a couple times now is the Montreal Girl Geek Dinner.
On about a monthly basis the GGD organizers offer a chance for women and men to learn about a local business, organization or startup that is supported by female entrepreneurs. As they write on their blog:
The goal of these get-togethers is to make technology accessible and interesting to all age groups and all people, particularly women.
These monthly events are aimed at providing a welcoming atmosphere and a platform for learning in an informal environment.
Back in September I attended en event at Station C for which Aleece Germano of Swap Montreal and designer Rachel Dhawan of Brazen Design spoke. I blogged back in September about my experience at SWAP and the help I got from Rachel. There’s a recap on the GGD blog including links to Rachel’s slides and I did my own review back in September.
October’s Girl Geek Dinner was at Capriccio Restaurant and the guest speaker was Brana Malobabic-Giancristofaro from MonRoi.com. Brana is the founder of MonRoi which provides a device, called a Personal Chess Manager, which helps chess players keep track of their games. I know – pretty niche, eh? But that’s exactly why it’s a success. Before Brana, everyone still had to use pencil and paper to track games at tournaments and that could lead to errors, not to mention the impracticality of reviewing your game. Since these are used during tournaments, no general device like a PDA or laptop, would do; after all they’d have to be careful no one cheats.
If you’ve gone to any networking or business type events, you’ve probably heard an entrepreneur speak about his or her work and how it started. Since I was a teen going to Junior Achievement, I’ve heard a lot of the same things. The upside is that repetition is one way to learn, and most also give their own take on the process for starting a business. Thus, while Brana mentioned traits such as risk-taking, perseverance, and faith in your idea, she explained how these things helped her.
Another thing I liked about Brana’s talk was how she wanted us to know that ideas have value in themselves. Before any product is created, your business is worth something. As with all successful entrepreneurs, Brana show a lot of passion for her business and the people she works with. Her passion was so great it made me wish I still knew how to play Chess; it’s been so long since I used to play in my grandpa’s basement.
Something else that struck me at the GGD were the number of people asking me why I was there. I’m a librarian therefore I’m not involved in startups or entrepreneurship, right? Well, sure, I’m still working in a traditional job but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t be interested in a startup. I have friends that have regular jobs and work at startups on weekends or at nights. It all depends on the job and the company.
And, as I mentioned, I’ve been attracted to business since I was a young teen. I don’t know why, I just have. The thing is, growing up, and still today, I am a quiet person and often shy and it just seemed to me those weren’t good traits for a businesswoman. Do I want to own a business? Yes. Right now? No. I can’t even decide which type of business I would want – I mean, how many bookstore/cafe combos can a city have? (Not enough IMO, but that’s not enough for a business plan.) Also, I’m thinking far, far ahead. Take a look at one of my Canadian Library Idols, Connie Crosby of Crosby Group Consulting. She worked decades in libraries before striking out on her own as a consultant. So it’s just this type of thing I have in mind when I go to these startup/techie/networking events – every moment is a learning experience that may come in hand down the road!
It was good having these discussions with others since we all do come from different backgrounds. Of course, the evening ended on a high note for me since Brana held a contest – whoever could create the best caption for the sheep chessboard picture (see slide 9) would win a prize. Guess who got lucky? With my caption, “The Black sheep will have their day” I won a generous gift card to FutureShop.
This just goes to show that you can find a lot of different type of people at Girl Geek Dinners, for a lot of different reasons. For more info on the Montreal GGD, check out the blog or become a fan on Facebook. For those of you not local, check the central Girl Geek Dinner site to find one near you or learn how to start your own!