Add #InstaBeerUpCLT Founders Amy Herman and Corri Smith to the list of female entrepreneurs weaving awesome into the fabric of our community. Looking back over the past year, they couldn’t be more surprised at the success of their social, networking event that meets monthly at locally owned craft beer spots. It all began as a desire to connect with more of their Instagram friends in real life and has grown 10x larger in just one year, turning into the most buzzed about event of its kind in the city.
To them, the event is so simple, it’s humorous. What has now given them local celeb status, as the InstaBeerUpCLT girls, is in essence just a hashtag and a name that now commonly overshadows their successful entrepreneur careers. Amy is an Artist & Founder of Vintage Charlotte Pop Up & Vintage Rentals Markets and Corri is Founder of Black Wednesday Social Co., a social media and marketing company.
Girls Like Craft Beer Too.
Corri and Amy – being the likeminded, creative entrepreneurs that they are – became fast friends when they met planning an event. They are both very active in the creative and social media space and over a shared love of beer they began wondering, “we have so many awesome Instagram friends, can any of these people be our real life friends too?”
This desire to be more connected to their community led to the creation of #InstaBeerUpCLT – which they promoted on social media as an open invite to hang out over beers. They figured, the worst that could happen is no one shows up and the two of them were left to drink beers together. Not such a bad thing. But it’s clear, others wanted to connect too. 30 people came to the first event and last month, nearly 300.
A New Way to Network.
They had attended other networking events that were all “slinging business cards and what-do-you-do?’s.” With #InstaBeerUpCLT, they instead wanted to create an easy, inclusive place for people to meet in real life, with no strings attached and no agenda. The event has expanded beyond its social media origins, to now attracting those who aren’t active on Instagram or Twitter (do those people exist?!). The event is intended to create a casual gathering space for people to expand their social network. Maybe that leads to a professional collaboration down the line, or for some people, it’s just a cool way to hang out. ”
The events attract a range of people: creatives, entrepreneurs, and corporate professionals. Mostly aged 24-40, they see everyone from small business owners and artists to architects, realtors and engineers.
Since there are so many regulars now, they’ve made a rule that they won’t talk to each other during the event. The point is to meet new people, just as they’ve done from the beginning, “it’s not about us, it’s about meeting new people and we want to use it for its intended purpose.”
Check out FB for #instabeerupclt photos! Thanks @eadeckerphotography for capturing the event! A photo posted by Corri. (@corriasmith) on
Over the past year they’ve learned that “trying to keep something simple is actually very complicated.” With 10x growth in attendance of an audience that is highly concentrated of engaged professionals doing interesting things around town, businesses now want to be a part of it and capitalize. Amy and Corri love that they have the support of the local community but laugh at the fact that they’ve been asked about their growth strategy. “It’s just a hashtag, we’re not a business and no one is making any money off it. Part of the allure is it’s simplicity – it’s a free event with no strings attached.”
With that, there are two easy ways businesses can get involved. (1) Donate an item to the raffle or (2) Buy beers for the participants. For Corri and Amy it’s all about adding value for the people that come – and who doesn’t love free beer and prizes?!
“It’s such a simple idea. Putting people in the same place to drink and meet new people, it’s not a novel concept.”
The success of this event must be evident of something larger. Whether it’s the permission people have to put their smartphones down and engage in real life or because there are so many newcomers moving to town trying to meet others and find their place – there’s something more here. Whatever it is, let’s start with a beer and hello.
What: #InstaYEARupCLT, The 1-year Celebration of #InstaBeerUpCLT
When: Thursday, June 25, 6pm until we get kicked out
Where: Unknown Brewing Company, 1327 S Mint St, Charlotte, NC 28203
Why: Did you not read the words above?
Bonus: For the special occasion, Unknown Brewing will have one rare re-release style on tap and one never released style. Corri and Amy promise a few special surprises too.