This week marks the one year milestone of our live stream events on Searchfunder.
In the Spring of 2020, when we were in the initial throes of the pandemic lockdowns, college students were scrambling to find internships after their other commitments suddenly fell through. At the same time, we had a seemingly endless supply of search funds who badly needed interns. Desperate searchers seemed like the perfect match for scrambling students. Yet, challenges came with the influx of student interns. Most of these students had just learned the phrase "search fund" for the first time and needed some pointers on where to go and how to ramp up fast. So, to give these students the structure the needed, we decided it would be good to gather them together virtually for networking and educational purposes.
Along with college students, we also decided to hold Zoom meetings for people of color and women searchers. Thinking the crisis would be short lived, we guessed that virtual meetings would be beneficial and sustainable over the long term because those searchers can be quite dispersed geographically and have trouble meeting in the non-pandemic world. During those first sessions, we talked about the general lack of visibility of women and people of color within the rather close knit search fund community. When folks picture in their mind "a searcher", they may not be picturing a woman of Asian or African descent. This visibility stumbling block has been a perennial topic of discussion throughout my career as a woman of color in the engineering, legal and business fields. It primarily takes two forms:
* lack of role models to provide a sense that the objective is feasible (Is there someone far ahead of me on the path who has a similar culture, value system, challenges or experiences to me that I can look up to and envision myself being?), and
* lack of committed mentors (Is there someone who will meaningfully invest the effort to guide & champion me along the path in a way that respects my culture, value system, challenges or experiences?)
I was rather depressingly pondering this stubbornly persistent visibility question when a light bulb of a question turned on: "Why not broadcast our sessions so that our members can see what 'a searcher' looks like?" Doing a test run was probably one of the fastest decisions that ^, ^ and I have ever made. With Mark's wizardry on the back end of Searchfunder, we quickly turned those Zoom meetings into live stream events. Our first live stream was a happy hour for our black, indigenous and people of color community members on August 13, 2020.
One or two sessions per month rapidly evolved into three to six sessions per week. Over the last year, we've hosted some 150 brainstorms, meetups, interviews, guest presentations and panel discussions! Recognizing that folks were coming into sessions stressed about being "late" from their last Zoom/WebEx/Remo/Meet/Teams or whatever meeting, we added announcements, news reporting and Searchfunder tips at the top of the hour to set a relaxed environment and keep members informed and connected. I hope you have enjoyed our sessions and learned from them as much as I have.
That germ of a question has sparked so much. I regularly hear from searchers how the live and video playback sessions help them in their quest. Business owners join now not because they want to search or sell, but because they enjoy the content provided to help them run their own businesses better. I have the distinct pleasure of watching searchers across the globe share their hard earned knowledge with others who are on an earlier stage of the search fund path. We have searchers from a veritable A to Z list of countries taking part in this difficult task from Australia, Brazil, Canada .... Japan,... Singapore .... South Africa .... Ukraine, just to name a few. Many of our searchers are the first in their family, school, community or country to pursue this entrepreneurial path.
I have the absolute joy of bearing witness to underrepresented searchers who have just recently bought their first business giving back and embodying the phrase "Lifting as We Climb." I am incredibly optimistic that "the buds and blossoms of our desires will burst forth into glorious fruition ere long." Todays underrepresented searchers will be tomorrow's business owners and search fund investors. While operating their businesses, these folks will serve their communities and act as role models and mentors to others.
In the coming year, Luke, Mark and I look forward to evolving our sessions and expanding the global nature of the topics to make them even more beneficial and useful for you. We will continue to offer our S.O.S., Searchfunder Sessions and Searchfunder MeetUps at no additional charge to our community members as part of your subscriber membership benefits -- just like IBISWorld reports for searchers, BVR Deal Stats, Data-Axle and the HubSpot discount.
Going forward, non-members may be asked for a financial contribution to support our hard work and efforts in bringing helpful and useful content. Our goal is to either have affordable or "pay what you can" pricing for non-members to ensure access for those needing to successfully search for and operate their own small-to-medium sized business.
In light of this change, we ask our Searchfunder community members to always register through the links on the Searchfunder events page: https://www.searchfunder.com/event. Non-members will register through this link: https://bit.ly/livestream_events.
We are continually looking for interesting guests and new ways to make your live stream experience better for you. Your recommendations and feedback are most heartily welcome. Much of what you see on Searchfunder today is because of the feedback we've received from our members. So, don't be shy!
At Searchfunder, we celebrate major milestones with pie (not cake) -- and I plan to wholeheartedly enjoy a helluva good one this week!
Searching is Better Together,