For the latest in our Hoyapreneurs series, we profiled Dan Berger, founder and CEO of Social Tables, an event production technology, which was born at of Dan's desire to build stronger more connected communities. We chatted with Dan about his company, his experience on the Hill Top and the D.C. tech scene. Read our interview below to learn about Dan's entrepreneurial journey.
1. What was the inspiration behind launching Social Tables back in 2011?
I came up with the idea for Social Tables years ago when I was attending a friend's wedding and wished I could see the seating chart ahead of time. I was curious to know who was at my table. My love for events, however, was born way before that. Working for a Congressman I got to see just how powerful a tool events were when it comes to building communities. My love for events and passion for technology were the right ingredients for a technology company that serves the hospitality industry.
2. It's been said you are the 'man of a million meetings.' What does that mean? How has Social Tables facilitated human connections and interactions?
Ha! I'm not sure I've heard that one before but I don't mind the title. It's an honor, really. I think events are becoming more important every single day. As we spend more and more time with digital media, we need face to face interactions to satisfy our human need for connection. Social Tables facilitates human connections by giving people tools to ensure they are successful throughout the event planning process.
3. D.C. is a burgeoning tech hub. How has it grown over the last few years and how have fellow Hoyapreneurs helped shape the ecosystem?
DC has changed in so many ways since I first moved here in 2008. As it relates to tech in particular, I remember the first tech meetup I attended in 2010 - there were 50 people in the room. Today, they have about 1,000. DC is the one of the best cities for tech companies for several reasons. First, the people are talented and ambitious. Second, there is a burgeoning investment community. And finally, many organizations have a presence here which makes it easy to get meetings to help you develop your business.
4. You recently helped launch the DC Chapter of the GU Tech Alliance. What are your goals for the chapter and what plans do you have for 2018?
I launched the chapter because I was inspired by what the GU Tech Alliance (GTA) was doing out west and was asked to do something similar in DC. It makes sense to have a GTA chapter in Georgetown's city, no? The organization is an important part of our alumni community because before it was founded, there really wasn't an alumni community centered around tech. Our goal is to connect alumni in tech to one another to ensure Georgetown grads get the same opportunities that other schools get.
5. How did your time on the Hilltop help prepare you for a life as an entrepreneur?
Apart from placing me in DC, which is where I went on to found my company, I was exposed to entrepreneurship at MSB. There are many ways my experience shaped my entrepreneurship but most important is the faculty. I have been mentored by many of them and a handful now serve as formal advisors on our Board of Advisors. Most specifically, I wouldn't be where I am today without Jeff Reid, Jim Hunt, Brooks Holtom, and Bob Thomas.
6. What was your favorite class and/or professor during your time on the Hilltop?
Without a doubt it was Prof. Holtom's class on organizational behavior. It taught me the fundamental rule of business: your people are the best asset you have.
8. Finally, how do you feel about Patrick Ewing as coach and the start to our new season? Is there a tournament bid in our future?
Really good! I followed Ewing when he was a Knick in the 90s and have many great memories of watching him play.