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Unprepared Ep 40 - The Value of Networking and Events with Manny Larcher


  • [00:00] - Intro
  • [00:35] - What is Collaborate and Elevate
  • [03:24] - Starting entrepreneurship through events
  • [04:35] - The value of networking and events
  • [05:15] - Building Collaborate and Elevate
  • [09:28] - Where to find Manny 
  • [09:41] - Sponsor: Rewind


Key Points:

  • Collaborate and Elevate connects business owners, SMEs, entrepreneurs, and students to different resources and opportunities. 
  • The events they make bring the community together through collaboration. People get to connect and share ideas to empower one another. 
  • Collaborate and Elevate also wanted to highlight great ideas to give opportunities to others. 
  • Curating events are a good way to meet, connect, and have better conversations with people. 
  • Before COVID-19, Collaborate and Elevate was the theme of the last Startup Week in Columbus in 2018. 
  • Collaborate and Elevate's goal is to deliver more value for an affordable price than any platform and building a community. 
  • They have helped others in the past with connection to mentorship, marketing feedback, funding sources, and more through their events. 
  • When the pandemic happened, they pivoted their events-based company into an online company with membership.
  • Moving online allowed them to micro-focus on the attendees who are now members. 
  • They currently have members in 3 countries, 8 cities, and 5 states. 


Chase Clymer  

Hey everybody, welcome back to another episode Unprepared. I'm your host, Chase Clymer. And today, welcome to the show. Awesome friend from here in Columbus, Ohio, actually, Manny Larcher. Welcome to the show. What's up?

Manny Larcher  

Welcome. Thank you. Thank you for having me. How are you doing?

Chase Clymer  

I'm doing great. Making it through the week. It's been a busy one. I've done a lot of content this week, actually.

Manny Larcher  

That's good. Yeah, same here. I could relate. It's already Thursday. These weeks are flying by. It's ridiculous. 

Chase Clymer  

I'm not even kidding. Earlier today. I thought it was Wednesday, like on a call. And I was like, wow, there's more this week than I thought. 

Manny Larcher  


Chase Clymer  

So anyways, let's just jump into it. Let's talk about Collaborate and Elevate. It's a great little initiative that you're running here in Columbus, and kind of let people know what's all about.

Manny Larcher  

Thank you. We, Collaborate and Elevate, we help. We pretty much make the journey easier for business owners, small businesses, aspiring entrepreneurs, as well as students. And basically we connect them to resources and opportunities that they didn't know existed. 

So before Corona, basically, we really, it was basically the theme. Collaborate and Elevate started as the theme of the last Startup Week in Columbus in 2018. 

And then after Startup Week ended, we just got a lot of requests to do events. So we did events, basically, every single month in Columbus at the Wave Innovation Center. They were all free for the most part only, like, four times out of the 20 events we charged.

We had food. We had local chefs preparing food for the first one. We had Donatos as big sponsors. And then we did events Versa ,Gravity Rev One, and Burger IM. And basically Corona happened. 

And when Corona happened, people kept hitting me up, and they're like, hey, do this, do that. Keep doing the events. And the only way it kind of made sense and it wasn't too much. So we rolled out a membership for $4.95. And now it's super impactful. 

We're basically able to micro focus on the attendees of the events, but now they are members. So now, and it's been incredible. At the end of the day. Now we also have a $47 month or a year membership which is like four bucks a month, basically, if you pay for that. 

So right now we literally have members in three countries, eight cities, five states, and just all types of crazy things have happened. One of them, helped connect a local company, Amber Hammond, SEA change, [from] SEA change. 

We told her about it a year ago. She prepped, got prepared, applied, got into it. Finally she got 12,000 bucks like two weeks ago. There's a lawyer who is a member. She's 150 X, we just did the math. Her ROI on the cost of the membership. 

So that's the goal. Our internal thing is to deliver more value for four bucks a month in any platform, Facebook, LinkedIn ads, all that stuff. So yeah, it's super exciting. And it's been kind of taken off.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah, so let me break it down for the listeners or watchers or whatever, however, you're consuming this content. Because you said a lot of stuff there. 

So first and foremost, let's talk about the power of networking and events. And then how you took that online? 

Manny Larcher  

Got it? Yeah, no. So I'm just someone that everyone always has described me as a connector or extrovert my whole life really. I was born in the States, I was born here in Columbus, Ohio, but my parents are from St. Lucia in the Caribbean. And I lived there from like, six to 11, and I had dreads growing up. 

And then at 12, I came back to Hilliard. So just at that young age, I was super unique and always just connected with a lot of people. So that's just kind of led into entrepreneurship. And so I'm the guy that would go to every single event. And I would also pay to go to events, and I would volunteer my time, and I'd meet people. 

And that's even before starting a company, really. I was just, that's just who I was naturally. But, you know, when we started the agency in 2017, just a lot of things became more clear. And then just being involved with different events, you know, I went to South by South with all this stuff. 

In my mind I felt that events, at the end of the day, are a good way to connect people and to really have better conversations. I guess that's the issue. 

When we're adults and we're out of the educational system, how are you going to meet one another at the end of the day? And really, when you think about it, I mean, one of the only real ways is by curating events. 

So just being able to do those and in my mind at that time, there were so many people doing incredible things that just wasn't getting any attention.  I love hot chicken takeover. But I just, we saw Joe everywhere, right? 

So it's just kind of like, hey, how can we highlight other people that are doing incredible things as well? At that time, I was working with Michael Redd, who is you know, born in Columbus, went to the NBA, had an incredible career, All-Star, Olympic gold medalist. 

He wanted to give back as well. And he wanted to do that not through tech. He wanted to face-to-face interact with people. So that was just the basis. So we just did it for fun. And in those months, it was just incredible. 

We had over 1000 people come through the doors. We did everything through Eventbrite. So we had emails with everyone. And so basically, I guess that's the thing. If you're doing the events, and our whole thing was just a good time. And we just really wanted to connect people. 

People became in relationships out of this, their businesses started out of this, I don't know if you know, there many other things kind of started out of people interacting at the event. 

So I think that's the number of things. We gathered those emails and we just delivered value. So I think well, when you have that, ask them $4.95. That was honestly, that's something that I was just, I was very scared to kind of send that email or post that on social media. 

And there are some people that did give me responses that I was scared of. I'm not gonna name who they were. Some people did say some things. Some of them were, you know, even guests at Collaborate and Elevate. But in due time, those people have already come around which is an incredible thing. 

So it was, you have to trust your gut. But when I didn't have any choice, in my head, when Corona happened, you know, being an entrepreneur, with other businesses, you go where the energy's at. 

And if you feel like the energy is going to stop, I'm someone that will cut an idea quit. And when I realized that the events were the basis of Collaborate and Elevate. We never charge. We never did the sponsorship route. I didn't, it wasn't about that. It really was all about building community. 

So I think that's super, I think that's the most important thing, really. That was always about building community. You know, I also have an agency, a boutique agency, stopwatchcreative.com

So at that point, it was all about promoting and highlighting Stopwatch. But when Corona happened, I didn't have time to even do free virtual events. So there has to be a buy-in. 

And for me, the membership is essentially a good way to really segment out the people that are really truly interested in, really truly value, and really, truly want to help. 

And now we're in, now it's a different energy. You've done events. You know how headache they are. I've never had fun in any of my events, period. It was never fun. So just from my perspective, and the energy in the output, is significantly less, and the value that I'm giving people is significantly more.

So it's something that has been, you know. And I'm a product of the people I'm around. There are many people, I wanna give Rachael Bertner a shout out. 

She's just someone that does a lot of, I would say, I mean, you could say spiritual coaching in a way. I don't want to go off in the woods. I hope I didn't lose anybody, but she's someone that could combine your energy, and just what you're thinking. She's someone I talk to, I guess you could say, a therapist or whatever. But not really, you know, we're friends. 

So I don't want to give her a shout out. But Rachel is someone that I talked through a lot of these things, too, you know, because I think, you know, you never want to be...I mean, people are gonna think whatever they want to think. 

But I guess the core people, I didn't want them to think that, hey, I'm just trying to rule out a membership or something like that. So affordability was the main thing. And yeah, that's kind of it.

Chase Clymer  

It's cool. We're kind of running out of time here. But I just want to say it's awesome to have a first person. You're telling the truth here that you pivoted pretty much an events-based company to online with membership and it worked. And this happened within the last nine months. 

So you know, there are going to be people out there that are watching this that are going to be facing those challenges. So I think it's awesome that you shared that story with everyone. 

And again, if you guys want to learn more about Manny and what he's up to, it's on his hoodie, collaborateandelevate.com

I'll also put a link to his agency in the description as well. Manny, thank you so much.

Manny Larcher  

Thank you, Chase. Let's do a follow up. (Laughs)

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