The original version of this blog post (with amazing video and more pics) can be found here.
When Mike, Bryce and Ben met at a tweet-up (remember those?) many moons ago, we had no idea where we’d end up, and we certainly couldn’t have predicted the cray-cray journey we’ve taken to get here.
The idea was simple. Be Less Shit. Sounds easy. Turns out it’s not. Our first idea went down like this…
Scene: Tottenham Warehouse Flat Conversion
Ben: Tech events are shit…
Mike: Why are they so fucking lame?
Bryce: Why isn’t there a BBQ? (think Aussie accent!)
I’d love to tell you it was more complex than that, but it wasn’t! Digital Sizzle was born! However… turns out you can’t have an open bbq in a park in central London.
Great plan, dudes. Great plan. 😭
Luckily we found a workaround and somehow kept putting on events by the skin of our teeth, and for some reason, people kept coming!
Five years have now passed and this incredible community has grown from strength to strength. Hundreds of events happen every week and a vast number of co-working spaces, accelerators, mentors, investors, micro-communities and more, now exist to support the community. It’s with this reassuring knowledge that 3beards takes its final bow and moves aside to give Unicorn Hunt a glittering future.
Much of what we achieved would never have happened if it wasn’t for Joe Scarboro, who became the 4th Beard, and who has done so much to embody the Beardy philosophy — he’s a mentor, a guide, a rock, and a consummate professional. With the 4 overlapping skill-sets and ideas, 3beards became something far greater than the sum of its parts.
Ably assisted by Kevin Plattret and Vicky Hunter, we built a rock solid team of cross-functional superstars, who could ship code and shift crates of beers, who could work around a power cut, find David Bowie impersonators in 24 hours, and never stop smiling through 72 hour hackathons. Truly, if we’re proud of anything, it is the team we built.
Kevin, in partnership with our great pals General Assembly, became a CTO-in-effect and showed his value by easily migrating disparate sites to a cohesive brand, crafted with much love and care by Mike.
Vicky, Victoria, Vicster, the Vics machine, The Hunter. Never has a team of people needed someone like her more. Without her get-it-done-the-rams-caught-in-the-grate mentality, we doubt we’d ever have got it all done. We genuinely believe that through her we understood what “being beardy“ truly meant.
We’ve often been praised for the brand we built. We’ll agree, we did it super well. We would never have done that without the visual stylings and guidance of Mike, and the epic brand value stewardship of Gabbi Cahane, who between the two of them managed to distill the frantic idea-fountains into a cohesive idea across multiple platforms.
Then there’s the inimitable Ben, overloaded with unrivalled passion and energy for all things startup. Ben brought our strong ethos of how inclusive, welcoming and uncompromising on quality the events should be, including a good few heartfelt if ranty moments to get his point across!
Last but by no means least, the antipodean noise maker that is Bryce Keane, whose endless hustling and journalistic schmoozing, rapid-relay-connection -machine put the beards at the heart of the scene from the get go.
Friends and Partners
Of course we are also hugely proud of the partnerships we created; we spanned the globe and managed to remain committed to small, locally focussed, awesome companies, as well some of the bigger partners we worked with.
It’s impossible to name everyone that has worked with us and helped us along the way but here are just a few we want to thank…
Bristows, Burger Bear, Campus London, Dose, Diginate, Icon Printing, Hubble, iHorizon, Meantime Brewery, The Office Group, Ozone, Shoreditch Grind, Strongroom, TechCityUK, UKTI (now DIT) and many, many more!
But really, honestly, the BIGGEST and most heartfelt thanks goes to ALL OF YOU for being a part of this journey with us. Without you we’d never have managed anything; you believed in us, and we only hope we exceeded your expectations. We certainly exceeded our own! Who would have thought we’d run a hackathon in the Turbine Hall of Tate Modern? Or exhibit art hackathon projects at Whitechapel Gallery, or The Barbican? We even briefly dabbled in “corporate innovation” until we realised that no amount of showering would remove the taint — we jest, but it just wasn’t for us, we exceeded our client’s expectations, but not our own and as a business we’ve always been very self-critical — it kept us hungry.
So why now? Hasn’t 2016 been bad enough already?!
WE HEAR YOU. We’re not trying to put salt on the wound, but we’ve quietly been reducing the events, and after we couldn’t make Thinkabout work, we decided that it was time to pick a side, double down and take a new path. That path is Unicorn Hunt. We don’t see it as the end, we see it as a new beginning, and remember beards and unicorn horns are both made of keratin!
So what happens now? Well, Vicky is taking Silicon Drinkabout forwards, (as she travels the world — follow her here). You’ll still be able to find your regular entrepreneurial get togethers in 15+ cities around the world, so fear not, that will remain. For all Silicon Drinkabout updates and relevant startup news sign up to the new newsletter here.
Ben is heading up Unicorn Hunt, assisted by the glorious Bruno, and we’ve a huge collection of features in the pipeline, with a collection more in the works that we really hope will transform how talent is nurtured, discovered, and celebrated.
Bruno has been an essential part of the transition from being an events company to becoming Unicorn Hunt, over the last year he’s brought analytic rigour, charm and laser-focussed intellect to help us all understand the potential of what we’ve built.
We’ve huge plans, and as always, we’d love you to drop us a line with any feedback.
Finally… we’ve asked the crew to share their one favourite memory (below), and if you’d like to do the same #remembeard is where you can rejoice, smile, weep and laugh with us about all the moments we’ve shared.
With love, The 3beards
Our Fav Memories: #Remembeard
“Being heckled by a member of the public in the Tate Turbine Hall because “Art is for Everyone”! We created Art, it had been judged by the public, and there we were in The Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall with an underpowered PA trying to educate the world about Hackathons!!! Ha ha” ~ Ben Southworth
“What started as 3 guys meeting in the pub for a chat about tech has grown into something much more special. Our mantra has been to make events that we would want to go to ourselves, and now that those events are everywhere, I couldn’t be happier. Whilst it’s going to be hard to say goodbye to running events, I’m excited for our future with Unicorn Hunt. It’s been over half a decade since we started, and I want to thank everyone that has supported us along the way — we couldn’t have done it without you.” ~ Michael Hobson
“Just trying to do something that mattered and helped a lot of people, without ever expecting anything in return. That is, and always will be, the spirit, ethos and my favourite memory of 3beards. I hope people will remember our events and say we achieved that for them, in some small but special way.” ~ Byrce Keane
“It’s been a huge privilege to learn and grow as part of 3beards over the last 5 years. I’ve really enjoyed becoming immersed in one of the most vibrant and exciting startup ecosystems in the world (and travelling to a fair few other great ones too!). Huge thanks to everyone that has supported 3beards over the years — it would have been nothing without you! My favourite moment would have to be the first Silicon Drinkabout Summit in Sofia, it was a gathering of Drinkabout organisers from 10 different locations and full of enthusiasm, love and passion for startup communities across the world. It’s very humbling to know that we had a small part to play in those ecosystems becoming a little closer and more collaborative.” ~ Joe Scarboro
“I think a highlight for me has to be Digital Sizzle: Beards In Wonderland. I loved the creativity involved with making the event happen; from AirBnB’s croquet lawn with miniature replicas of some of their most interesting properties acting as the hoops, to Twilio’s Mad Hatter’s Tea Party with dry ice flowing from plant pots filled with lollies. The night itself was full of familiar faces from the community and it was a real demonstration of just how supportive the community is when the power went off — no one complained, people offered to help and, after a bit of rejigging, everyone partied on. Having only joined 3beards 3 months prior to the party, I loved how closely we worked together and always had each other’s backs — absolute dream team :) ” ~ Vicky Hunter
“It’s been a remarkable journey working at 3beards and I look back with enthusiasm as to what we achieved. The trust 3beards placed on me on my first day running Unicorn Hunt has inspired me to push the product forward in the past year and I’m incredibly proud to see it taking off as a standalone company. I can’t wait to see where Unicorn Hunt will be in the next few years!” ~Bruno Vaz Moco
“For me it’s been the vibrant, honest, empathetic, passionate, articulate, challenging and unconventional board meetings we’ve had over the time I’ve been a non-exec. Never a dull moment, idea or conversation. ” ~ Gabbi Cahane