Silicon Drinkabout is a global network of local events, each ran by tech and startup enthusiasts that love bringing people together.

The event was born when Michael Acton Smith invited all his techie friends to the pub every Friday night and it became something of a tradition. As you can imagine, these regular meetups proved popular. Wanting to ensure this meetup flourished, Michael handed over the reins to 3beards who then ran Drinkabout for the next five years.

Since its humble beginnings in 2011, Silicon Drinkabout has grown into cities across the globe. Despite its expansion, our ethos still remains that anyone can rock up and have a good old chat about tech and business over a pint.

The events in London were every Friday – I became a regular pretty quickly, and then progressed to the status of ‘volunteer’. This meant I went there, had my pint, talked tech and got the t-shirt.

And making connections were taken to a whole new level during the Silicon Drinkabout summit, which meant I could join a bunch of volunteer organisers from around the world in Berlin. When you put a group of people in a room who all naturally love connecting others, it’s like fireworks of, “you should check this out”, “I’ll intro you to this person” boom boom boom!

Networking events are great and clearly have value, but so many in any ecosystem inevitably become a relentless series of sales pitches, or a business card churning exercise. That’s why I so quickly became such a big champion of Drinkabout.

I would go week on week and just hang out with people experiencing the same challenges as me. Sometimes we’d discuss them, other times we’d just have a drink and laugh about something unrelated.

Whatever we discussed, those connections became some of the closest friendships I made during my time in London, people I’m still lucky enough to call friends – that’s why when I moved to Bristol I had to bring Silicon Drinkabout with me. And I’ve already met some brilliant people!

I moved to Bristol as part of the Runway East team, and I wanted to give a bit of the old Silicon Drinkabout love to the community here.

It’s to chill out with good people after work and provide a safe space to let off steam – because let’s face it, running your own company is hard – and to celebrate wins big and small.

So, I got in touch with Vicky who now looks after Silicon Drinkabout Global (3beards shut shop in 2016) and low and behold, she had also been lured in by the appeal of Bristol. In February, I pulled TechSPARK‘s Editor, Geraint, into the team and off we went, the three of us meeting in the pub every payday Friday and inviting everyone we met to come along.

It really doesn’t matter if 10 or 100 people turn up, we always have a good time and people form genuine friendships with others working in the same industry. No one’s excluded, everyone is welcome – just come and say hello!

Sign up for the next Bristol Silicon Drinkabout meetup here! To find out more about the group and where in the world it is hosted, check out the Silicon Drinkabout website.

Shona Wright

Shona covers all things editorial at TechSPARK. She publishes news articles, interviews and features about our fantastic tech and digital ecosystem, working with startups and scaleups to spread the word about the cool things they're up to. She also oversees TechSPARK's social media, sharing the latest updates on everything from investment news to green tech meetups and inspirational stories.