How I learned to change the oil in my car and found a new office because of Shake Shack and a hackathon

Random story that I recounted recently to someone the other day.  It's super interesting to go back and trace connections and relationships that led to new opportunities.  If nothing else, it serves as a good reminder that every thing you do now is an investment in the future.  

In 2009, I was introduced to Havi Hoffman.  She was working as a developer evangelist at Yahoo! and got me on a panel at a hackathon she was working on.  In turn, I wound up inviting her to a 300 person event that I threw at the Shake Shack in Madison Square Park.  After seeing my ability to bring a big community together, she wound up introducing me to TK because he was running a hackathon of his own around the first Techcrunch Disrupt in NYC in 2010.  

Hi Charlie,

My friends Daniel Raffel (colleague, yahoo) and Tarikh Korula (Uncommon Projects, Brooklyn) + Etsy’s Chad Dickerson are organizing a weekend Hack day on 5/22-5/23 in association with TechCrunch Disrupt. More detail from Tarikh below. They’d love your help getting the word out and can answer any questions. It’d be great to get a mention in NYC Innovation. Thanks in advance for help getting the word out.

Regards, Havi

I wound up not only helping to promote that event, but actually attending, because if a bunch of hackers were going to be in a place in NYC, as an early stage investor I figured I should be there.  So I went--the only investor at the time to actually hangout during the pizza and hacking part of the hackathon, not just the demos.

Techcrunch Disrupt is where I met Steve and Jared from GroupMe and what led to me backing the company when I was with First Round Capital.

Later in 2010, I was introduced by Fabian to Andres Wuerfel, who was leading Deustche Telekom's Innovation Group.  It seemed like a good intro for GroupMe, so then I put Andres together with the GroupMe team.

Andres stayed in touch.  When I launched my fund, he reached out and asked if I'd be willing to speak on a panel in Berlin.  Why?  Because someone who launches a fund in Brooklyn would have an idea of how ecosystems outside the Valley can survive and thrive--so that's what I spoke about.  It was a great trip, but it also reconnected me with some New Yorkers that I hadn't seen in a while--namely Chris Muscarella, the co-founder of Kitchensurfing.  

When I checked in on the app formally known as Foursquare, Chris reached out and invited me to a dinner in Berlin--which is where his co-founder Bo was from.

That's partly when my obsession with building communities around food began.  I got to know Chris and Bo and wound up at a Kitchensurfing chef test meal, as they were vetting the chefs that wanted to join the platform.  I met Chris' brother Stephen at that lunch.  Stephen is an interesting dude who builds things and wants to enable other people to learn to build things, too.  He bikes a lot and isn't too shabby at softball, so he wound up joining my softball team.  

He also wound up teaching me how to change the oil in my car.

Getting to know the Muscarella brothers is also what led to a change of scenery for Brooklyn Bridge Ventures.  About a year ago, I started talking to some of the crew from Studiomates about joining them in a new location.  Their old home at 10 Jay was being renovated and that community was trying to figure out where it would go next.  

As it happens, Kitchensurfing wound up growing out of their space in Gowanus and recently moved out.  Chris reached out to me to ask if I knew anyone that wanted to take over.  Our group was still on the hunt for space and so it wound up being a great fit.  

So by the end of the month, I'll be moving Brooklyn Bridge Ventures from Dumbo over to Gowanus and bunking up with a great group of folks that are tied into the same community that produced Brooklyn Beta and led me to my investments in Tinybop and Editorially.  Gowanus is an up and coming Brooklyn neighborhood that is now home to a Dino BBQ, the best pie place in NYC, a shuffleboard club, an Ample Hills and soon, a new boutique hotel.  

I'll still be in Manhattan regularly and making the regular ride up and down Brooklyn's western shore to my investments in Williamsburg and Greenpoint, but I'm excited about the new surroundings, my new housemates, and the even shorter commute to work.