Today, my last day at South by Southwest, I met someone on the operations team of a business that uses TaskUs services. He hadn’t met anyone from our team previously. The first thing he said, “TaskUs! All I hear about you guys is that you do our outsourcing and throw killer parties.”
Guilty as charged.
Before we came to SXSW, I had countless conversations with founders who said, “Not going to South By this year, need to get real work done.” I understand this sentiment. At first glance, boozing and dancing with a bunch of other nerds doesn’t seem like it will move the needle revenue wise. But from experience I have to disagree. Partying is an amazing business development tool.
On Saturday night we did our second TaskUs Do Work Party at SXSW. We took over the restaurant at Cedar Street Courtyard and had three hundred of the sharpest people from tech, digital media and entertainment rocking out. Amazing cocktails, delicious food and the sounds of DJ Caballo Blanco made the night a blast.
I guess it’s no surprise that Jaspar and I throw parties for TaskUs. We started our first business in high school – Access, a series of Hollywood night club parties for 14 to 17 year olds. At the time the party was the business. Today, we’ve recognized that throwing a good party is a great way to connect with prospects and partners.
I witnessed this scene dozens of times this weekend at SXSW. Invite Only parties, sponsored by big brands and business services companies. Tens of thousands of dollars spent on booze, food and musical acts – to what end?
Before the party, Jaspar and I personally emailed a few dozen top entrepreneurs and investors ourselves to invite them out. Over half of these people responded to us. Including a classic exchange between Jaspar and Sean Parker. All together, we got to connect face-to-face with about 20 people at the party, who would normally never give us the time of day including the CMO of Teletech, CEO of Spark Networks and a features writers for the Wall Street Journal, Fast Company and Inc. All of these conversations took place in a friendly environment, where everyone had their guard down. These informal connections are what festivals like SXSW are all about.
The ROI of this event won’t be known for a year. I’d venture to guess that we will see a nice return on the $8,000 we spent on the party itself. We definitely have in the past. While partying seems like a distraction from getting real work done, its often the partying that inks the deal and keeps the lights on. So take a break from writing code, developing product and sending emails and go have a bit of fun with other smart people.