On Thursday, April 9, the startup community will gather virtually for the second iteration of the Startup Social, an event originally planned for March.

When COVID-19 forced the organizers to cancel, the hope was to reschedule the in-person event for a later date. However, in an effort to maintain connection during this time of social distancing, the event will take place via Zoom instead. 

Hosted by Startup Sioux Falls (SSF), the first Startup Social took place in September 2019. With around 130 in attendance, it was a success the SSF team was excited to reproduce. 

Maureen Ohm is the events manager for SSF, and she says the Startup Social offers a unique opportunity to connect with people outside of your normal circle. 

“The format brought out a larger and more diverse crowd than we experience in some of the regular weekly events,” Ohm said. 

The September social took place at Queen City Bakery and was structured to include time for mingling and networking before representatives from area business resources—SCORE, Zeal, the SBA, the Enterprise Institute, and South Dakota Manufacturing & Technology—got up to speak for three minutes each, with discussion and Q&A following. 

Because of the nature of Zoom, the structure will be slightly altered this time around. Once everyone has tuned in, three local business owners will have ten minutes to talk about their COVID-19 experiences and how they’re modifying their businesses. 

The featured business owners are Sara Jamison, owner of Terra Shepherd Boutique, Tom Slattery, owner of JJ’s Wine, Spirits & Cigars, and John Meyer, founder of Lemonly. There will be time for discussion afterward, which will be moderated by Brienne Maner, executive director of Zeal. Attendees will be able to use the “raise hand” feature in Zoom, and Maner will call on people to speak. 

Ohm says hosting the event via Zoom instead of Facebook Live or a similar platform allows for more interaction. The limit for the event is 300 people, and when you start to get that many on Zoom they aren’t all visible at once. However, attendees can see a limited amount of people on their screen, and they’re able to scroll through the guest list to view everyone.

“We’re not just broadcasting this out for people to watch,” Ohm said. “We want it to have that community feel, and you feel truly connected when you can see other people’s faces and talk to them in real time.”

Though a virtual social doesn’t allow for the same experience of mingling and enjoying a cocktail hour with one another, the SSF team has provided a few options for people to jazz up the event at home. 

JJ’s Wine, Spirits & Cigars will be offering 30 percent off growlers or growler fills and 20 percent off pre-made 3.0 cocktails for the event. Beverages are available for curbside pick-up, and you can order via phone at (605) 357-9597.

Additionally, attendees can get in on some exciting gift card giveaways. The March event was supposed to take place at Remedy Brewing Company, so instead, the SSF team purchased a $100 gift card to award to the attendee with the best virtual background. There will also be four $50 gift cards given away at random to individuals who both register for and attend the event. These will be redeemable at Queen City Bakery, Game Chest, The Cookie Jar, and Chef Lance’s Cafe and Catering

*The event is free to attend, but you must register via EventBrite in order to be eligible to win a gift card. 

Ohm encourages people to attend the social to connect with fellow entrepreneurs and community members during a time when many are feeling isolated and without their usual support systems.

“We’re hoping people will find inspiration to do something to help their business and also find comradery during this difficult time,” said Ohm. 

The Startup Social will take place at 4:00 p.m. on April 9. You can join via Zoom here: https://kauffman.zoom.us/j/7711407194

Meeting ID: 771 140 7194