Startup Haven Code of Conduct

NOTE: Startup Haven takes this Code of Conduct very, very seriously. If you get banned from Startup Haven, it will probably be because you violate this Code of Conduct.

All members and sponsors are expected conduct themselves in accordance with these core Startup Haven principles.

  • Honesty and Integrity, always to the highest standards and without compromise.
  • Humility and Respect, shown to everyone, always, regardless of race, gender, religion, place of origin, citizenship, sexual orientation, age or disability. Startups are hard… very hard… and everyone who takes on that challenge deserves your respect.
  • Privacy and Confidentiality, with everything you hear, see or do in any context related to Startup Haven, whether online, in person or at any Startup Haven events.
  • Helpfulness and Responsiveness, remembering that the primary reason you participate in Startup Haven is to give and get support within the founder community.
  • Never be Closing, if you, your company/firm (or a company/firm you are associated with) has any product or service to sell to startups, do not ever use the Startup Haven network, events or information to promote or prospect for customers. Your membership will be terminated immediately.   

Founders Dinner and Poker 2.0 Event Code of Conduct

Despite being a poker game, playing poker is not the primary purpose of Startup Poker 2.0 events — i.e., the reason to attend and play is not to play serious poker or to win money. You are expected to greet and treat everyone at the table as a colleague and a friend. Always remember that you are there to support other entrepreneurs and to build relationships.

As such, Startup Poker 2.0 is not intended for professional or serious amateur players to beat up on lesser players. If you are an accomplished player, remember that you’re just there to hang out with the rest of us donkeys and have fun. More experienced players are expected to help new and less-experienced players figure out the rules, strategy, etiquette and to help them improve their game – impatience, criticism, disgust and otherwise unsavory treatment of unskilled players is cause for exile. That said, good natured trash talking is welcomed and encouraged. It’s a fine line. Find it.

Startup Haven events are made possible by the generosity of sponsors who will also sometimes attend events with the rest of us. However, Startup Haven is committed to only allowing a small number of highly relevant sponsors to attend. All sponsors must also agree to abide by this Code of Conduct. So if you see a sponsor at a Startup Haven event, that means they have been vetted for their understanding and commitment to supporting founders; so please say thanks and make an effort to understand what they do.

Entrepreneurs should expect to meet investors… not to pitch them. As Mark Suster says, “investors invest in lines, not dots.” Startup Haven events are an opportunity to begin (or continue) drawing lines with investors. So don’t be “that guy” who’s constantly trying to demo his product and pressing hard for a coffee meeting with investors. Not only is this ineffective, if you do it you become “that guy.” Please note that this behavior (pitching, pressing, pestering investors) is not just discouraged, it is forbidden and continued disregard for this policy can lead to termination of your Startup Haven membership.

Startup Poker 2.0 players who demonstrate poor sportsmanship when they loose (or when the win) or are in general too serious or aggressive about their poker play are also in jeopardy of not being invited back. Players who play or act aggressively, who are generally rude, anti-social or just can’t seem to figure out how to have a good time also may be banned.

While Startup Poker 2.0 events are fun, casual, low stakes games, all players are expected to follow the house rules and seek to peaceably resolve disagreement.

Sponsors Code of Conduct

In addition to conforming to all of the codes of conduct above, sponsors are also expected to follow these additional codes.

Non-profit organizations who’s core mission is to support startups are welcome at our events, whether or not they are financial supporters of Startup Haven. Non-profit organizations are encouraged to engage attendees in any professional manner that helps sustain their mission.

It takes a village to raise a startup and service providers (e.g., law, banking, real estate, accounting/tax, technology, etc.) are an essential part of the village. The good ones contribute substantially to the success of startups. As a supporter of Startup Haven and, by extension, the startup community, a limited number of for-profit sponsors are also welcome at some of our events.

For-profit sponsors are encouraged to engage attendees in a professional manner and to offer help and advice when asked. However, overt promotion and prospecting is not permitted. Each sponsor is afforded the opportunity to introduce themselves to attendees, so everyone in the room will know who you are and what you do. Beyond that, sponsors are best served by considering Startup Haven as an opportunity to build relationships with the core startup community.

It is the unique nature of startups that they are ever changing and that they move along a trajectory at an unpredictable pace — this month’s “two gals in a garage” are next month’s Series A recipients. As such, sponsor should not think of Startup Haven as an opportunity for prospecting and lead generation; sponsors should strive to understand every startup they meet and think creatively about ways to provide value, even if the startup is not currently a “good customer.” So if you find yourself reaching in your pocket for a business card every time someone talks to you then you’re doing it wrong. Instead, think of something or someone you think could help the startup and offer to connect the founder to that person or resource.

Above all, have fun and make some friends. The rest will follow.