The art of gathering: cultivating a thriving community
Strategies and ideas for building community with tech investors and founders.
Last Updated: December 20, 2022
Published: December 19, 2022
We frequently talk about the ‘what was that!?’ effect of a truly special event: the feeling a guest has the day after when they realize that they didn't go to just another networking happy hour or dinner. It's exactly how I've been feeling today about M13’s mix of incredible venue, guests, conversation, and energy. So unique and memorable.
With changing public health and personal safety standards, 2022 was once again about experimenting with hybrid gatherings. Our community saw value in coming together to learn and support each other this year at 58 digital and in-person events. For the many of us now used to working and interacting on our screens, going outside of digital filters can seem time-inefficient, awkward, and risky. Here are a few lessons and insights we learned about creating intentional in-person gatherings.
First, a quick look back at this year:
Start with your why
There is something deeply powerful about in-person gatherings. Connecting with others in real life helps us use our senses to express curiosity, ask better questions and listen, and build empathy and trust essential for lasting relationships. Being open to serendipity and meeting others help break us out of our echo chambers and stay humble in the vastness of the universe.
At M13, to be good citizens and investors is to be active stakeholders in our local and global communities. That work enables us to facilitate intimate and meaningful experiences with our investors, founders, talent, and partners. The resulting dialogue, insights, and personal growth ultimately help us lead and build better. That’s our why. What’s yours?
I always leave M13 events thinking they are much more hip than typical VC events. Lots of interesting people are always in attendance outside of just founders and VCs. It was a fruitful event.
Nurture curiosity beyond ourselves to learn about ourselves
We host intimate gatherings around the country, and they are effective and fun ways to convene founders and investors with shared goals. As an established firm with a long and well-known presence in LA, we are active across the best of what the city offers and collaborate with local partners to host an annual program called M13 field trips.
This year, field trips for investors included volunteering at a maximum security prison, sailing to tour the largest port of the western hemisphere and meet blue economy entrepreneurs, and a guided hike with wildlife advocate Beth Pratt to learn why LA is the home of what will be the world’s largest wildlife crossing.
Connection happens when you experience things together. Riding on a coach bus with other investors, sharing peanut butter sandwiches in a prison rec room, and standing together on the edge of a protective migration path for at-risk wildlife set a tone of humility, awe, and connection that no algorithm can engineer.
The emotional intelligence in the men we spoke to during our day together floored me. May the world be so lucky to know men of this depth. Sometimes the school of life really is the best education.
Investor about Defy Ventures
M13 partner Christine Choi with a Defy Ventures Entrepreneur in Training.
M13 team and investors at AltaSea field trip.
The aquaculture mussel and USC kelp tours were fascinating; even those who live locally hadn't realized how mussels are seeded and farmed. Thank you to our brave investors for climbing the mast and hoist the sails! Knowing that elementary school students do this same tour made us feel a lot better about our abilities on the boat!
Community member about AltaSea
Impact starts by expressing your values
Founder mental wellness is important to us and a key part of scaling your business and leadership. After a day of collaborative working sessions, our founders were invited to decompress with breathwork, meditation, and a creative writing hike in Malibu. They said it meant a lot to have investors by their side who make room for their health and wellbeing.
Thank you for organizing it! My serene mood has been commented on multiple times today.
Founder about Five Sense Collective
M13 team and founders at Five Sense Collective field trip.
M13 community and founders at Malibu creative writing hike field trip
Proud to work at a firm that cares about returning both capital and impact.
M13 team about Defy Ventures
Listen to your community
We take care in curating experiences that condition our full senses and enrich our understanding of the world while also fostering psychological and physical safety. Feedback allows us to consistently improve. In 2022, our event NPS was 67, and we are grateful for feedback that makes us better.
Volunteering at the Lancaster facility was one of the most impactful and memorable experiences I have been a part of. I consistently found myself telling others how humanizing the experience was. Thank you Defy Ventures for stewarding an engaging, safe, and moving experience for all.
M13 team about Defy Ventures
Special thanks to our local partners who welcomed our founders and investors and enabled magical moments across LA: AltaSea, Annenberg Foundation, Beth Pratt, CalTrans, Defy Ventures, Five Sense Collective, Frequency Breathwork, National Wildlife Federation, Port of Los Angeles, and SVB.