How A Detroit Startup Made Magic Happen In New York
For me, it started with a three-pronged approach: nurture relationships, forge new connections and do whatever was necessary to help the team set up the event.
For Benzinga, it was a chance to create a dream guest list of attendees and have them all together in one place to create something not yet seen before in the fintech space.
And a short while ago on April 8, Benzinga saw an idea turn into a reality without fully understanding what the scope of our idea would be.
The event started as a small idea by the team members here at Benzinga HQ asking the question: What can we do that hasn’t been done? How can we take these great companies in the fintech space and give them the attention they deserve? How can we set ourselves apart while planning this event?
And the idea was born: The 2015 Benzinga Fintech Awards gala. A panel of judges with respectable profiles (consisting of Steve Ehrlich, Ron Insana, Andrew Ackerman, Charlie Kroll and Josh Brown), a gathering of contestants that are new in the space and transparency into the world of new tech companies trying to change the face of millennial investing.
We’re pretty green when it comes to creating and hosting events, having really only done one major conference before (Weedstock 2014) and I personally haven’t traveled much for work like the business development people have (I went to the spring SABEW conference in 2014 after being invited by Marty Wolk), so it’s been rare to truly experience the scope of Benzinga’s reach.
When Weedstock proved to be successful for our company last year, we decided to allocate more resources to more conferences heading into the future.
A main focus for the Benzinga team has always been on relationships. Quick phone calls, exclusive commentary, a helping hand and a kind word all come from solid relationships. A major point of importance for me during the event was meeting relationships in person.
Part 1 of the three-prong approach was nurturing relationships.
Sure, there’s been plenty of emails, phone calls, Twitter interactions (check out @BZAwards for all the goodies) and and contributions to Benzinga.com by a lot of people in the room, but I had never met most of them before. This made the event unique in not only was I meeting these fantastic personalities for the first time, but they were also meeting each other.
I was lucky enough to get a photo snapped of myself, Glenn Hall, Joe Brusuelas, Kristin Bentz and Brian Sozzi in an unprecedented event that showed how worlds were colliding at the TriBeCa 360 that night.
We’re always looking for quality commentary and contributions at Benzinga, which was the second part of the several-pronged approach that I used to finagle my attendance at the event. While elbow rubbing with the masses, I was working to find new contributors to the site.
Thanks to the boat load of business cards I cleaned out of my pocket, I am now in touch with many new people that will help bolster the quality and legitimacy of our vast contributor network at Benzinga.com, which is how the content creation for the site got its start when Jason Raznick started the company in his basement five years ago.
Another example of forging connections is similar to my own.
The aforementioned photo (shown below) with Glenn Hall, Kristin Bentz, Joe Brusuelas and Brian Sozzi was evidence of the first time some of these industry personalities had met in person (I had actually met Glenn Hall before at SABEW and Kristin Bentz had a prior relationship with Hall from TSC), but we fostered these connections at this event. Business cards, phone numbers, goofy texts and after-party invitations were exchanged.
If you missed the event, you can watch the recap here.
So, while we like to tout that we created this “first of its kind” event from scratch and actually made it happen with a fantastic turnout, what we’re most proud of is how a Michigan-based company went to New York and put on an event that gave attendees the impression that we had been doing this for years.
We brought people together in one venue to show the diversity of our relationships, our support of the startup culture and that we’re just as Wall Street as the big banks, except on a more personable level.
The Benzinga team that traveled to New York to help put the event on (all 15 of us) worked together seamlessly and without issue on a level we don't often achieve in the office; not to mention the memories we made together that we're still laughing about.
The reactions to the event and the follow up conversations I’ve had with guests has been resoundingly positive not only with myself but with other members of the Benzinga team.
Thanks to everyone that came and showed their support, thanks to the contestants for participating (special shout out to winners HedgeCoVest, GovBrain and Capital Market Labs), thanks to the judges for giving these fintech companies the proper attention they deserve and thank you most of our to our partners, contributors and friends.
Looking forward to seeing you all again at the event next year!
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