When does serendipity play a role and when does it not?

M. E. Graebner describes serendipitous value in the context of the acquisition of a business as “windfalls that were not anticipated by the buyer prior to the deal”. source.

As the new buzzword in the startup world is serendipity I thought I’d take a few minutes to share the fear I have of many folks engineering serendipity.  Put many interesting (or intelligent) folks in a room they say and serendipity happens.

I do though unfortunately feel many folks are taking it to the extreme. Given the many conferences, meetups and events that occur for startups, I am sure its very tempting for entrepreneurs to make sure they are at all of those meetings, to ensure they dont “miss out”.  If you are however meeting the same people again and again and doing the same things, talking about the same 10 startups, there’s little room for serendipity.

At most startup events, I see the same folks who make up 50% (increasingly) of the audience both on the investors side and the entrepreneurs side. While its good to see many familiar faces, I am doubtful that there’s much serendipity and goodness that will come out of it.

As an entrepreneur the one thing you have on your side is time, besides your ideas and intentions. I dont believe you can really waste any time and much worse, attend meetings just to make serendipity happen. I would highly recommend a very strict discipline of attending events that you believe you will have a good chance to get something done, and then hope for more serendipity to happen.

If your sole purpose of attending events is to make magic happen just because you are there, then you are going to likely waste more time and get little done.