Are you tired of going to networking events or entrepreneurship panels that focus on successes? It’s not always inspiring to hear about how incredible the lives of high-level entrepreneurs are. Don’t you wish there was an event series where people were upfront about the behind-the-scenes of their businesses (read: failures)?
If you nodded your head while reading that, allow me to introduce Marsha Druker, founder of Fuckup Nights Toronto.
Marsha Druker first encountered Fuckup Nights when she was abroad in Tel Aviv. She was working at a tech start-up and attending a lot of different events. Fuckup Nights came up on her Facebook newsfeed, and the edgy name caught her eye. She’d never seen people share their stories of failure before. It was unlike the other events she’d attended in Toronto or Tel Aviv which all started to feel the same after a while. At Fuckup Nights, people were sharing the real side of entrepreneurship or their professional lives instead of talking about how great and successful their lives were.
Safe to say, Marsha fell in love with the event and felt like she found her community. When she got back to Toronto a few months later, she was looking for her next step and began going to different events around the city. None of them were quite as rewarding as Fuckup Nights. She searched it up to unexpectedly discover there wasn’t a chapter just yet. Talk about amazing timing.
“If somebody showed me a crystal ball and I could see myself doing this, I don’t think I would believe it,” she says.
Before her involvement with Fuckup Nights, she’d never done events or community building. She’s a business school grad who took the traditional marketing path of going into a Consumer Packaged Goods company. From there, she transitioned to another corporate role at a life safety company, managing external and internal communications. She loved the work, team and company but after three years she felt like her learning was stagnating. Her interest in tech and desire to live abroad led her to work at a startup in Tel Aviv. This is, of course, where fate intervened, and she first attended Fuckup Nights.
“What’s the worst thing that’s going to happen? I’m going to fuck up something called fuck up nights?” thought Marsha.
Marsha began by applying and getting a license from Fuckup Night’s headquarters in Mexico City. From there it was up to her to bring it to life. She figured out who to partner with, which local entrepreneurs to feature and made it unique to Toronto. Luckily, the event resonated with Torontonians from day one. Their first event at the DMZ sold out, and it snowballed from there. They now host monthly events featuring three speakers from different backgrounds at Shopify, as well as industry-specific events, like a health and life science-themed night at MaRS and an advertising-themed night at Miami Ad School Toronto.
Looking for partners in Toronto led Marsha to yours truly, Project Spaces. She’s a unique case as she’s a member and a partner.
“Coming into Project Spaces has been a game-changer for me. I finally feel like I’m surrounded by people who can relate to me and who are going through similar challenges. It’s also been an incredible community partnership. We’re so aligned in the types of people we’re trying to reach, and we’ve actually had a few members speak at Fuckup Night events,” says Marsha.
She finds it immensely rewarding to be able to facilitate this community she loves. The biggest lesson that she’s learned from running Fuckup Nights is that no one has it as together as it looks on their highlight reel.
“Everyone’s dealing with failure, but not everyone’s willing to share it. Having these conversations and having access to successful entrepreneurs and professionals in Toronto and really being able to get their guard down and open up shows that no one is immune to failure. The most successful people and the most successful companies are the ones that fail the most because they’re innovating and trying new things,” says Marsha.
As for her best advice for failing entrepreneurs, she says it’s to redefine failure. Think of it as something that didn’t work and use it to propel yourself forward. If you change your perception of failure, you’re not going to be so afraid of it, and ultimately, you’ll be more successful in your business.
On top of the Toronto chapter, Marsha Druker has since launched Fuckup Nights in Kitchener-Waterloo. Fuckup Nights Toronto will be hosting their two-year anniversary at The Ballroom on Thursday, March 21, 2019.
The future looks bright for Marsha, and even if she fails, she’s totally prepared.