If I had to sum up the Public Spend Forum launch party in one anecdote, it’d be this one. Just before the party got going, before I was wearing a name tag that identified me as a PSF loyalist, I was chatting with an early arrival. The conversation inevitably turned to why he had chosen to come. “I work in DC, and I heard there was going to be free food,” he said. “So…” At this point he shrugged and picked a slider off of a passing tray. At the end of the party, that early arrival had become a late departure, as he handed me his business card and said, “I think what you guys are doing is really cool. I’m very interested.”
I don’t tell this story as some sort of humblebrag. It just struck me that the transformation of that guy from disinterested to interested—via the friendly route of free food or not—is exactly what Public Spend Forum is all about: Opening up the government market to all comers, connecting people who wouldn’t normally connect, and firing them up to do good work. A less verbose way of saying that would be: Building a community. That’s what was so moving to me about the party—there were so many people there who care deeply about solving government’s problems, it was difficult not to feel fired up and a part of something.
I realize this isn’t the typical post-mortem on a party or company event. I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you we also had a list of great speakers, including PSF co-founders Jason Busch and Raj Sharma, innovator Mika Cross, incubator Ryan Ross, venture capitalist Stephen Rodriguez, and the FAA’s Ravi Chaudhary. All had a different vantage point on the government market, but all had the same message: We need to support each other, and we need to support opening up the market to new companies and innovators. We’ll be throwing more parties and events to help build this community, and we hope to see you there. And please let us know what you’re doing, as well.
Like my friend the convert said to me at the end of the night, we’re interested.