Monday, October 3, 2011

Le’ Talk: Kareem Ahmed and Blake Bensman on The Twin Cities Entrepreneur Flea Market

By Stefani Arden

Calling all aspiring and established entrepreneurs, The World’s First Entrepreneur Flea Market awaits you! Imagine a crisp, fall flea market that doesn’t sell or barter goods, instead, brings together entrepreneurs in a morning meeting of the minds. “The main goal of this event is to connect and inspire,” said creators, Kareem Ahmed and Blake Bensman. Ahmed is an entrepreneur that runs a brand consultancy, New Economy Labs, and Bensman is a digital marketer. The Minneapolis-based duo put together this event with intent to expose, connect, inspire and showcase all of the wonderful talents, products and services that are infused throughout the Twin Cities. The First Entrepreneur Flea Market will take place at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 5 at Urban Bean, a local coffee hangout on Bryant Ave. Nearly 50 attendees are already signed up and more are expected to show.

Catch the interview with the creators below and see what all the buzz is about...

l’etoile: What prompted you to come up with this event concept?

Kareem: I was thinking of cool ways to bring people together and this idea has been floating around in my head for a few months now. I believe that people in the "industry" may be getting a bit bored of conferences and panels. When it comes to cultivating a culture of creativity, I feel there is room for something more fun, unique and "lo-fi,” and that’s what I am trying to do with this event. There is a surging entrepreneurial (aspiring and established) culture in MPLS/STP that should have the opportunity to meet, greet and collaborate. The Twin Cities is a hub of innovative talent, but it can be difficult to pinpoint where people are meeting and exactly what they are working on. In that case, I decided to arrange this meet-up through Eventbrite and promote it on Facebook and Twitter. In only a few days, nearly 50 attendees had already signed up.

l’etoile: What do you hope people will get out of it, in the long term?

Kareem: I hope that people will meet their next business partner here.

Blake: Whether it's for a giant project or a small idea, I am hoping for collaboration. I view this as an organic, mini incubator. In that, everyone needs a bit of help and we are bringing together strong personalities and resources to one open venue.

l’etoile: We have a lot of freelancers in the Twin Cities. What sort of trends do you see happening in the market for independent contractors and why is a meet-up like this important?

Kareem: We're in the midst of a creative revolution and this time it's digital. Making things is now more important than ever. People are beginning to see a window of opportunity in the get-rich-quick scheme, when it comes to creating new apps or online start-ups. Movies like The Social Network highlight this time of digital expansion and have created a certain air of “cool” around formerly frowned upon nerds and tech geeks. It's a really exciting time to be in the industry. Corporate culture has really changed and bringing in "outside help" is becoming more and more acceptable. Right now is the time to be an entrepreneur, whether it's forced or by choice.

Blake: The information age and technology evolution is empowering anyone to do anything...being a "people person" might just be the ticket at this flea market.

l’etoile: What advice would you give to a fledgling entrepreneur?

Kareem: Become friends with more people.

Blake: Shake some hands, every single day.

L’etoile: Do you see this event possibly turning into a monthly meet-up or just a one-time deal?

Kareem: We definitely hope to have it every month or two.

L’etoile: Now that the attendee list is full is that okay if other people show up?

Kareem: Yes.

When: 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 5 at Urban Bean
Click HERE for more info on the event and how to register.

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