How to recognize the jerk at a startup event

20 Sep 2014
| Last update: 06 Oct 2015

We all go to a startup event thinking that it will be awesome, and that we’ll meet a bunch of interesting and awesome people. But as it happens at any event, there will inevitably be some participants whose behavior will not be the most suitable one.

Greg Anderson wrote a great article about the 11 types of people you can meet at Finnish startup events. I’m sure that these typologies can be extrapolated to other parts of the world, too.

So let’s see, what types of jerks are there at start up events?

“I am here to eat and drink ALL I can”startup event

[ Photo credits: Tech Cocktail’s Flickr ]

I mean, why?! I really don’t get why people come at a startup event just to drink coffee, and eat the food. Do these people really think that nobody is going to notice them? Oh, they’re wrong! People notice and remember them. People that attend an event just for that, are clearly missing on setting their priorities right. You’ll recognize these type of jerks, because they are the first ones to arrive at the coffee break and at lunch, too. Dude, don’t you have money to buy your own food?

Mister “I interrupt-everyone”

Or as I call it “the-most-annoying-guy-on-the-planet”. He’s the type of person that wants to get to know people by interrupting them when they go to a startup event. Instead of gliding smoothly into a group of people where there’s already a discussion going on, he just bursts in with excitement, as if the group of people were already talking about him, and he was late to hear what they had to say. There are two possible scenarios here. The first one: people are shocked by his behavior, but they ignore him, continue their conversation, and the jerk leaves. The second scenario: the group decides to continue their conversation, but the jerk keeps on interrupting them, addressing stupid questions. The sad thing is, the jerk often doesn’t understand if you try to explain to him that what he’s doing is not OK. So, the best decision for the group is to go somewhere else and talk privately (well, assuming the jerk doesn’t follow them around like a crazy person).

“I want to ask as many questions as I can”

Sure, it’s fine to ask questions, especially when a speaker is talking about something you can’t really understand. But it’s not OK to ask a question every second minute. This type of behavior reminds me of high-school and college. I had a couple of colleagues that just looooved to ask the most ridiculous questions ever. It’s so annoying, because it’s a distraction from the entire speech that the speaker is giving. And most of the time, the jerk is not even paying attention to the speaker, and it’s a way of manifesting his need of showing off.

The narcissist

Attending a startup event is great for all the networking opportunities it can offer. So it’s only natural to go up to people and say who you are, and what you do for a living. But you’ll definitely run into those people that just love to talk about themselves, and only about that. And the worst part is that no matter how hard you try to make a reference towards something else, the jerk somehow always finds a way to make it all about him. The only solution here is to walk away from him, and walk far.

Share your story, and tell me about the jerk you’ve met at a startup event

Clearly, nobody’s perfect. Nor should be. Jerks are everywhere, and we just have to accept that. I am sure that you’ve also noticed the way these people act. I sometimes ask myself why they even do that. Is it something they enjoy?

Anyhow, let’s have fun with it, and let’s all share our stories about how we deal with jerks at a startup event. Do you avoid them, do you ignore them, or just try and talk to them? Let me know in the comments.

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Ana Darstaru

Content Writer at Squirrly
Ana has a strong sense of pragmatism and realism. Aside from the articles she writes for our lovely clients, she also loves testing new beauty products, and is obsessed with Pulp Fiction.
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  • Disappointed

    September 25, 2014 at 5:12 AM

    I am very disappointed in the tone of this article. Ms. Darstaru seems to be promoting judgment, labeling and considering herself superior; I would much prefer promoting understanding and setting boundaries. This would be much better rewritten as a series of positive tips, both as a guide to appropriate behavior as an event attendee (e.g. “be considerate of others by limiting how much food you take”) and how to handle for example someone who interrupts.

    • Ana Darstaru

      September 25, 2014 at 2:10 PM

      I am sorry I disappointed you. It was not my intention to offend anyone with this article. It was supposed to be funny, and raise awareness towards some people’s inappropriate behavior at startup events. I most definitely don’t consider myself superior in any way. A few months ago, I wrote this article (, in which I gave some pieces of advice to people attending startup events, and don’t know how to approach other attendees. So I approached the positive side of the situation, too.