Erick Brownstein seemed to be wearing a bit tired, holding the mic in his right hand for the majority of the evening. An observant on-line viewer delivered as if on cue.
“Maybe Erick should change hands so his wrist can take a break.”
The comment draws a few chuckles from an already relaxed crowd.
Brownstein is the Los Angeles emcee for Bloblive, a program that facilitates a series of open mic nights for entrepreneurs. Perhaps the evening is a bit ironic as the event is hosted at the trendy Daily Grill off of 6th and Flower, situated amidst several large corporations.
Brownstein is interviewing an older gentleman seeking advice on some carpentry. The work appears to be of religious theme and as the gentleman enthusiastically put it, “Came to (him) in a dream.”
The work is ordinary and almost quaint, but the man delivers an enthusiastic and direct explanation. On his first ever attempt, he delivers a commendable “elevator pitch” – an ideal adopted by entrepreneurs that suggests a successful venture can be explained in the time it takes to descend or ascend the average hi-rise building.
I take the mic around to a few members of the audience who provide constructive criticism, but seem to be taken aback by the idea’s simplicity. Bloblive does not have explicit standards regarding the quality of an idea, but the majority that surface have a technological element.
That is no surprise, stemming from an event that is live-streamed over the Internet and followed on live twitter-stream. Although, the events have recently seen a myriad of ideas from non-algorithm based search engines to wood-carven religious idols to all-natural skin care products. Like many of the ideas presented, the series is relatively fresh and because of this, the volume of variety will likely continue to grow.
Bloblive is a subsidiary to Ideablob, a Philadelphia based website that hosts competition for innovative ideas. User votes determine which innovative idea is most deserving of a monthly $10,000 prize. However, unlike its big sister, Bloblive is not competitive, unless you consider contending over the sometimes-sparse chicken wings, competition. Bloblive event coordinators work to provide a hospitable atmosphere, which of course includes elevatoresque music and satisfying appetizers.
I find myself dancing back to the food table a few times. That is of course, in between presentations to which I am completely reverent.
I’m working. But what can I say? I feel at ease.
Bloblive couples comfort and collaboration for its members and employees. The series presents an avenue for both novice and seasoned entrepreneurs to receive feedback and make potentially beneficial connections. A few Bloblive veterans have even made their way to Bloblive Philadelphia, the original locale that has found success for several months. More and more novices are becoming regular blobbers and transforming into veterans. They are willing to make the commute to one of the three primary locales where Bloblives are held – Downtown, Santa Monica or Hollywood.
It appears the current economic state has created a climate conducive to emerging entrepreneurs. The dip in the job market has discouraged many. However, a select few have seen their losses as opportunity to start over. Perhaps this is why Advanta, a financial institution geared towards small businesses, serves as the company’s primary sponsor.
Ami Kassar, Chief Innovation Officer at Advanta is present at Tuesday’s event. Kassar provides a few inspiring words and even pitches an idea with which he is toying around. Not surprisingly, the idea deals with entrepreneurs and a program that can better facilitate their efforts and more importantly, get them to come out of their shell.
For many, that seems to be the biggest drawback to the Bloblive series. No, it’s not the sometimes empty serving dishes, but rather, the fear of public speaking, and moreover, ridicule and rejection. Stutters, lost trains of thought, fidgeting and the inability to speak clearly are all commonplace.
However, once attendees clear that hurdle, they find that others share or once shared their inhibitions. Moreover, they realize the willingness to help and support that this community seems to foster.