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It has been said you should enter a business plan competition at most once. Steve Blank wouldn’t even go that far. Most startup events are similar, particularly around universities - going to more than one can be dangerous in that it creates a false sense of accomplishment.

Don’t get me wrong, these events are fun, and for the people presenting, they’re a good chance to build some brand equity. If you’re going for some interesting stories, maybe a free breakfast, then have fun, but far too often I see people I know attend these events month after month as a way of “getting into startups.” The time is better spent actually working on your company, as the necessary ingredient of getting into startups is to start or work at an early-stage company.

So here’s my rule: if you go to a startup event, plan on attending the following year as a presenter. And when you do, pass this rule on to the audience there.

-Brett van Zuiden