Meet The Guys Behind Startup Climbing: Tim Flannery & Scott Stephen Smith

Nov 20, 2015Brooklyn Boulders

Who are you guys and how did you get to Brooklyn?

We are Startup Climbing’s organizers.
Tim: I’m Tim. I run Operations & Growth at a startup called Bemaven and I’m a Venture Partner at Pilot Mountain Ventures. I get to Brooklyn by the BD from W. 4th Street.
Scott: I’ve been working for startups since high school, really love education and how it intersects with tech. I came to New York three years ago from Boston and have lived in Brooklyn for about half of that.


How did you start each climbing?


Tim: I started climbing in college. I went to Loyola in Baltimore and we had a wall in our school’s gym. I hung out with the climbers throughout college and we entered some climbing comps at other schools. I won a few raffles, but that’s about where my skill levels top out. I took a 5-year hiatus until a buddy and I realized we both liked rock climbing and started heading to Brooklyn Boulders. Now, I try to climb about once a week.
Scott: Climbing was the furthest thing from my mind until I came for the first event. I was just attending back then and Tim was a friend that I liked hanging out with. I got into it because of the event and eventually started helping out with organizing.


What’s your climbing philosophy?


Tim: I don’t mind taking big, calculated falls. If I’m on a route and my choices are to come down, try a slow grab when I’m already pumped, or make a dynamic move, dynamic move wins out. I know I’ve got a decent chance of biting it. But so long as I’ve got a solid spotter or a thick mat, no problem.
Scott: I’m in it for the fun. If you see us – I think it’s easy to see that neither of us are trying to break world records. For me it’s a release from a lot of things at work, and a place that I almost always meet new friends. I start with V0s every night and keep working up until I get my ass kicked. Sometimes that’s at a 2. Sometimes that’s at a 4. Soon enough I’ll let a V5 beat me up.
Tim & Scott from last year's Startup Climbing Holiday Party. Stay tuned for this year's!
Tim & Scott from last year’s Startup Climbing Holiday Party. Stay tuned for this year’s!

How has your life changed post-climbing?


Tim: The community’s relaxed attitude has helped me chill out. I get competitive when I play sports, so of course I wanted to flash every route I first attempted it. But I know it’s a process and it takes time. It’s a cheesy albiet appropriate metaphor for how I try to do business.
Scott: I wouldn’t say post-climbing because that’s too general. I would say post-BKB. I love the place, have a lot of new friends because of it, and it’s an incredible place that I have in my back yard if I’m ever feeling bored or under-stimulated.
What are your current biggest projects, on and off the wall?


Tim: On the wall, I’ve totally fallen off. If I hit a V3, it’s a great day. I’d like to fix that. Off the wall, I’m building a startup from the ground up and trying to manage a portfolio of investments. I enjoy multitasking.
Scott: I have a maze of stuff that I’m working on at any given time. My energy for the last couple of weeks have been sucked into making the U.S. education system more efficient and equitable for students. I’m also looking at using communities to create better, cooler, more vibrant travel experiences around the world. On the wall, there’s a yellow V2 on the 35 wall that I should absolutely be able to do but haven’t yet. Give me another few days and I’ll be smiling.


How did you guys first dream up of Startup Climbing? 


Tim: I was climbing with friends from a few other startups, complaining about every other boring network event I was going to. I looked around the gym, saw a bunch of startup t-shirts, and realized there might be some opportunity to network with folks while climbing. Nice little two-for-one deal. It was a pretty decent guess, but I didn’t expect the community overlap to be so strong. Specifically, I didn’t consciously realize that I was bringing together two of the most supportive cultures I know into one space.
Scott: The idea was 100% Tim. It wasn’t at all my world before he invited me in, and I’m just thankful for the ride it’s taken us on. Once we started making a lot of friends and seeing real connections and productivity coming out of it, then we started to think of ways we could let more of that happen.
Where’s it all going?
Tim: My goal is to be able to climb with a large community of Startup Climbers regardless of what city I’m in. We’ve got 7,000+ members in 100+ cities now, so we’re actively turning that goal into a reality. Now we just need to add density to these locations.
Scott: I’ll agree with Tim on all of that and just add a little more. We want to become a really useful tool for everyone within the BKB family. We’re always bringing in new climbers to the gym with our events, and in an ideal world we can build a better connection between our community and yours. To all the climbers who are working on something cool… give us a shout!

Say hi to Tim & Scott next time you see then at BKB. For more information on their monthly events, check out their website here. Upcoming next – a holiday party bash – stay tuned!

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