Chew the fat is a new event series from 3 Beards.

Today it was the second gathering of Silicon Roundabout’s wise elders for the “Epic VC Edition”, with Max Niederhofer (Sunstone Capital) – Simon Cook (DFJ Esprit) – Roberto Bonanzinga (Balderton Capital). The intention was to answer questions such as “Is there really a Series A Crunch?”, and “Are battle hardened VC’s worried by the onslaught of crowd funding?” (As I recall, not all the advertised questions came up, but that doesn’t actually matter).

I’m a regular at the 3 Beards’ “Don’t Pitch Me Bro” pitching events, as well as being an occasional drinker at the popular ‘Silicon Drinkabout’ Friday night bash (of course it’s popular – it’s free and it’s got beer and it’s after work on a Friday).

Chew the Fat is very different. It’s a paid event, and thus attracts a very different crowd. This became abundantly clear to me before even getting through the door.

I’d never been to Hackney’s ‘Bl_nk’ venue before (pronounced ‘Blank’), and was wandering near the excellently-named Silicon Way. Next to me in the street was an attractive and well-dressed woman holding what looked suspiciously like a Chew the Fat ticket. Finding myself in need of a pointer to the venue, I asked her if she was going to the event. Despite my wearing a collared cotton shirt and being generally clean and tidy, she looked back at me with a slight degree of bafflement that someone like *me* would dare to address someone like *her*, and promptly walked off without a word or further glance. I followed silently a few paces behind as she inadvertently led me to the event door. And that is what an entry fee does to a 3 Beards event. Inside, collars, heels and jackets overwhelmed the usual t-shirt wearing 3 Beards tech peasantry – who were, however, still very much in evidence.

In spite to the well-heeled crowd, the 3 Beards event style guide applied, with copious free 3 Beards branded ale, and good quality free food. Portions were smaller than the usual Chipotle burritos, but second helpings were available to urchins who dared to ask for more. I did, of course…

**Dull sponsor plug**
Beer and stuff was sponsored by Honey Hive – claimed experts in various different areas of law for Techie Types. “Honey Hive want to share with you their insight on key issues that tech companies commonly face across all stages of their lifecycle.” Apparently. I don’t think I’d heard of them before, but I have now, so that means they’ve got their money’s worth – as I refer loads of firms to lawyers and accountants.

Bl_nk was a pretty good event space, except for the drawback that the audience could neither hear nor see. A low dais and a low sofa really isn’t a great combo. Maybe some bar stools would help for next time? Audio was also so bad that the panel considered switching to communicating by mime halfway through. Eventually, however, they stopped the event to rebuild the sound system instead. I’ve not actually seen a re-rig in the middle of an event before, but it actually wasn’t too disruptive. Afterwards, most of the audience could hear reasonably well.

So what did these VCs say? I couldn’t see, so I apologise for any inaccurate naming. Roberto started by talking about how dreadful VCs are, and how increasingly redundant they’re are becoming. Simon explained how you shouldn’t raise money from VC’s. And they all talked about the importance of passionate dedication and good, old-fashioned entrepreneurship if you do stoop to raise from them – which they all stressed should be a necessary evil, not a bragging point. The funniest moment of the night was the best answer to the ‘worst pitch ever’ challenge. This involved a voice activated penile implant, pitched on a Harley Street treadmill. Yes, that did actually happen.

The big takeaway? What people talk about VC’s is all bull. They care about only one thing : finding teams which can deliver high margin, defensible, scalable business. It’s absolutely not about hot sectors, slick pitches and any of the other crap you’ll hear second hand. It’s about making a success through boring, sensible business common-sense. This needs to be delivered by a team with the determination and passion to keep going for the long haul. It’s that simple. And what’s more, they don’t want to hear you talking the talk. They want to see you walking the walk. Forget your vanity pitches, and build a proper business. When it’s working, they’ll give you money to scale.

Was that worth £25? Well it’s some good solid advice. But from the appearance of the audience, the answer seemed to be ‘it’s worth it if you can afford it’. For many startup types the brutal truth is that £25 is 3 days food. And when your runway is 3 months, or 6 months if you don’t eat, you’ll be more interested in chewing fat you don’t have to pay for. But if you’re the kind of person who has a flash MBA, wears clothes you can’t cycle in, and bl_nks me when I ask for directions, you’ll be right at home here.

For next events, follow @wechewthefat. Events are usually held near Silicon Roundabout – even if it feels a million miles away.