From the perspective of a start-up, Inman Connect ran the gamut of emotions ranging from intimidating to exhilarating. If I had to narrow it down to a single-word description, “surreal” seems appropriate.
If you’ve ever wondered what Inman Connect is like from the perspective of a start-up, read along for a glimpse into a few key moments from the trip.
7:00am Monday Morning
I’m getting ready to leave the house and make the 4-hour drive to Las Vegas. Why drive? I’m taking 2 TV’s with me and I’ve convinced myself that murphy’s law pretty much guarantees that one of those screens will break on the plane.
So here I am, tank full and ready to go. I kissed the kids good-bye and my heart breaks a little. I can see in their eyes that it hasn’t hit them that “mommy is leaving for 5 days.”
Right as I’m about to grab the pile of the last few items to put in the car, my adorable but clumsy labradoodle jumped up and knocked the pile off the table.
Oh, I forgot to mention that my iPad was sitting on top of the pile. You guessed it – the screen shattered. I reminded myself that I have to stop at Office Depot to pick up my print-outs and can pick-up a tablet while there. *Deep breaths*
1:00pm Monday Afternoon
It is H-O-T in Las Vegas! I listened to a few of my favorite podcasts along the way from NPR’s “How I Built This” app and arrived feeling like “If they can do it – so can I!”
Empowered and motivated, I checked in, found my room and made my way to set my booth up in the Convention area. Looked down the aisle at the signs of all the start-ups and intimidation set in.
I started to over-analyze everything (as I typically do) and questioned if I was worthy of a spot amongst these amazing visionaries.
6:00pm Monday Evening
Of all the events lined up for the week, I was most nervous for Wednesday’s dinner. Shortly after launching dashCMA I joined an exclusive mastermind group of like-minded proptech entrepreneurs and real estate movers and shakers from around the country.
Given that there was going to be quite a few of us in town for Inman Connect, the Founder coordinated a dinner. I would have been excited for dinner with 1 of the members so you can only imagine how I felt walking into Koi and seeing the table set for 20+.
I heard launch stories, how they broke through challenges, pivotal career moments and how they found balance. The food for thought was one of the best meals I’ve ever had. The accompanying sushi was also phenomenal.
4:00pm Tuesday Afternoon
Inman has a strict rule for all panel speakers: “No pitching.” There is one exception to that rule: “New Kids on the Block.”
Inman handpicks several companies and allows them 60 seconds to pitch on-stage to the audience. After a full day of demos, it was time to go to the green room. I’ve publicly presented many times to small and large forums and it’s something I love.
This time, however, was the first time I can think of in the last decade that I was anxious. Not a little anxious – on a scale of 1 to 10, my nerves were on level “paralysis.”
I walked away for a moment to check in with myself. In my mind, “New Kids on the Block” was a defining moment but I hadn’t defined the meaning of it yet and the heaviness combined with the ambiguity was a recipe for nerves.
I decided to have fun with it and not put such a heavy emphasis on what this moment could mean in the overall story of the company. I had fun – a lot. In fact, that 1 minute was the most fun I’ve ever had in Vegas.
7:00am Wednesday Morning
It’s July 24th. My son turns 7 today. I’m not there. We celebrated the Saturday before I left with a “7th Inning Stretch” themed party and had the best time.
He woke up today and to him – it was just a typical Wednesday. But I knew it was his actual birthday and I let that sink in for a moment before heading down to the convention area.
Entrepreneurship is often a rollercoaster ride that you board blindfolded. The same can be said for motherhood. The combo only intensifies the highs and lows.
11:00am Wednesday Morning
It’s not even noon and I’ve already met and chatted with Brad Inman, Josh Team and Ryan Gorman. Again, “surreal” seems like the appropriate term to use.
As a kid, the biggest thrill is going to Disneyland and meeting your “idols” – Cinderella, Mickey Mouse, Peter Pan – firsthand. Then you grow up and your idols change.
I felt like a kid at Disneyland this last week at Inman Connect. Meeting, chatting with and getting feedback from people I’ve respected for years was such a thrill. No Disneyland autograph book, rather I took away the adult-equivalent: validation.
11:00am Thursday Morning
This is it. The Inman “Innovator of the Year” awards. It’s only been a few short weeks since I saw the email announcing the finalists. That day, I read through the nominees wondering about the submission and selection process. Mid-thought, I scrolled and saw the dashCMA logo.
We were nominated for “Innovator of the Year” in the Technology category. Then, I appropriately fell out of my chair. Fast forward – the bruise has faded and the moment was NOW.
We didn’t win. We lost to Redfin. I’m okay with that. We are only 3 MONTHS old up for Innovator of the YEAR. I’m okay with it. But, next year – I want it.
1:00pm Friday Afternoon
Have I really just spent 5 days in Las Vegas and not gambled once? I wrapped up my last interview of the week and played $20 on a Wheel of Fortune machine before hitting the road.
What is it about the appeal of spinning the wheel that is so tempting? On the way home, I got a phone call from an Agent that had seen a demo earlier in the week.
They were interested in a market exclusive so that local competing agents could not use dashCMA. Knowing that they saw dashCMA as a core business differentiator seems like a trivial moment in the scope of all the incredible moments of the week.
For me – it was the highpoint.
I lost $20 on that slot machine but left feeling like we hit the jackpot.