UPCOMING BAY AREA STARTUP EVENTS
STARTUP EVENT DISCOUNTS:
March 3 – 5, 9:00a – 5:00p
Mission Bay, SF
RightsCon Silicon Valley is the only conference dedicated to exploring the relationship between the technology sector and human rights. With so many of our interactions facilitated by digital tools, the opportunities and liabilities for the tech sector are increasingly at the center of the discussion. While the rights to information are facilitated by technology, so too are major concerns involving privacy, state surveillance, jurisdictional issues, and accountability. RightsCon will feature thought leaders, highlight emerging voices, host strategy and implementation sessions, and provide opportunities to showcase new strategies and initiatives. Learn more at https://www.rightscon.org and use code “WW15” for 15% off.
25% off Everything Startups Need to Know About Angel Funding
March 5th, 7:00 – 9:00pm
Academy of Art, 466 Townsend St.
This is our much anticipated “Angel Funding” event. Find out everything you need to know about Series Seed, Convertible Notes, SAFE Financing Docs, and Closing Angel Rounds. Learn more at http://bit.ly/1fAgs23 and use code 25_PERCENT_OFF
$200 off DocuSign MOMENTUM 2014
March 5th and 6th
Westin St. Francis, San Francisco
DocuSign is hosting their annual conference in San Francisco, featuring presentations by Parker Harris (the technical co-cofounder of Salesforce.com), Sanker Akerkar (VP of Microsoft’s Developer and Partner Division) and a panel hosted by Mary Meeker (Kleiner, Perkins, Caulfield & Byer). It will be an opportunity to learn how companies of all sizes transform their business processes with the latest tools and APIs. There will be sessions on implementing eSignature and paperless processes into your web and mobile applications. Get $200 off athttps://momentum2014.eventbrite.com/?access=DEVearlybird&aff=mborozdin
25% off Strategic Investors: Funding from Corporate VCs
March 12th, 6:00 – 8:30 pm
379 Lytton Ave, Palo Alto
This is Founder’s Space’s annual “Strategic Investors” event. Find out what are corporations looking for in startups? Which corporations are the most active investors? How to negotiate the best terms with a corporate VC? And ways to orchestrate your own acquisition. They’ll have three top corporate VCs speaking, plus plenty of food, drink and networking. Learn more athttp://bit.ly/1h5en1e and use code 25_PERCENT_OFF for just that.
$50 off 500 Startups’ COMMERCISM and Bitcoinference
March 20 and 21
Mountain View, CA
Join the Founders of BONOBOS, STRIPE, MODCLOTH, POLYVORE + WARBY PARKER, AIRBNB, ZAPPOS & more @ COMMERCISM, a 1-day conference about strategies & tactics for building, growing, and dominating online commerce. And for all you Bitcoin geeks, join us the day before (March 20th) for the ultimate meet ‘n’ geek at a half-day bitcoin un-conference. SELL OUT, COMRADES! Learn more at http://www.commercism.co and use codeWEBWALLFLOWER for $50 off.
20% off Startup Marketing Conference 2014
March 27th 8:30am – 9:00pm
RocketStudios (344 Pine St.)
Introducing the largest social media and digital marketing education event for entrepreneurs and startups. The conference features 7 sessions and discussion panels covering the foundational best practices, case studies and new trends in digital marketing, customer development and growth hacking optimized for startups and small businesses. Learn more and register with code webwallflower to save 20% off admission at http://bit.ly/1fdTpsP
SF New Tech presents “6 About to Break” @ Macworld
March 27th, 4:00 – 6:00pm
Moscone North, San Francisco
Macworld/iWorld joins forces with SF New Tech to reveal the next big iOS app, Apple-related accessory, software or utility with the first-ever ‘6 About to Break’ competition. We’re taking applications now and will showcase the final six companies at Macworld/iWorld 2014 where the finalists will demo their hot new products in front of a live audience. To apply for the competition, visit http://sfnewtech.com/sfntmacworld. Attend 6 About to Break and score 3-day expo hall passes and 3-day conference passes to Macworld/iWorld (March 27 – 29, 2014) for only $10 & $149, respectively. Register with the promo code SFNT @ http://www.macworldiworld.com
25% off SF Uncubed
March 27, 10:00a – 8:00p
The Regency Center, SF
What happens when Dropbox, Evernote, Indiegogo, Factual, & 30+ more of the Bay Area’s hottest startups take over an art gallery? Grab a beer & a job at SF Uncubed—the city’s most exciting tech conference & recruiting event for programmers, engineers, designers, & senior business talent. Featuring talks & classes with CTOs, Founders, Heads of Product, & other influential speakers, + music, drinks, contests, a live art battle, & more. Register athttp://sf.getuncubed.com and save 25% w/ code FAILCON.
15% off Vator Splash Oakland
May 6 – 7, 8:30am – 5:30pm
Jack Landon Square, Oakland
Vator Splash will showcase 15 promising startups (raised no more than $2M), who get to present on stage in front of an audience of some 1000 attendees.The winner receives sit-down meetings with at least five VCs, including Javelin Venture Partners, plus in-kind prizes. Register and get 15% off the registration fee, using the promo code “failcon15” Apply to the competition and register to the event here: http://vator.tv/events/splash-oak-may-2014
20% off Startup Conference 2014
May 14th, 9:30a – 5:30p
Fox Theatre, Redwood City
Join 2,000 entrepreneurs for the Startup Conference 2014, one of the largest entrepreneur conferences in Silicon Valley. Discuss how to launch your startup, create buzz and traction, improve your elevator pitch and learn the latest fundraising trends. Browse the aisles of the outdoors Startup Fair, free to the public. Learn more at http://thestartupconference.com and use code “cass” for 20% off.
$25 off SF MusicTech Summit XV
May 20, 9:00am – 5:00pm
Hotel Kabuki, San Francisco
The SF MusicTech Summit brings together visionaries in the evolving music/business/technology ecosystem, along with the best and brightest developers, entrepreneurs, investors, service providers, journalists, musicians, and organizations who work with them at the convergence of culture and commerce. We meet to do business and discuss, in a proactive, conducive to dealmaking environment. There will be panels, parties, presentations, elevator pitch and speed networking sessions, and tons of opportunities. View our current list of speakers and attendees! For more information, please visit http://www.sfmusictech.com and use code “webwallflower” for $25 off your ticket.
OTHER COOL STARTUP EVENTS:
March 4, 6:00 – 9:00pm
Dorsey & Whitney, 305 Lytton Ave, Palo Alto
Please join us as we address best practices for building an A Team Company, starting with a corporate culture that is shared throughout the organization to achieve excellence. This should be an event rich in content that will provide practical, real-time strategies for current and future implementation. Learn more at http://vctaskforce.com/content/view/1178/
SV Broadcasting Media Camp Mixer
March 4, 5:00 – 7:00pm
Silicon Valley Bank (2770 Sand Hill Rd, Menlo Park)
Working on a media related tech startup? Want to meet other entrepreneurs, investors and media execs? Come meet the team from Turner and Warner Bros. running Media Camp! Join us for some drinks and appetizers in Menlo Park, and learn about Media Camp, the accelerator for media technology startups. Learn more at http://mcsvbmixer.eventbrite.com/
Founder Institute Information Session
March 5th, 6:30 – 9:30pm
WSGR Palo Alto (650 Page Mill Road, Palo Alto)
The Founder Institute is the world’s largest idea-stage accelerator. Join us for an informational event where you can meet local Directors, ask questions and learn how you can launch a startup in Bay Area with help from top CEOs, experienced peers and a structured approach. What is it like to be in the Founder Institute? Who are some of the peers that you will be working with? Can the Institute help you build your dream company? Learn more at http://fi.co/e/12411
Odd Salon – ROGUE
March 11th, 7:00 – 9:00pm
DNA Lounge (375 11th St, SF)
Lurking on the fringes of society, on the wrong side of the law: stories of charming criminals and dashing con men have fascinated for centuries. The harsh light of truth can change the faces of legendary villains into ordinary crooks, but it can also transform ordinary men into rogues on the right side of history. Join us as we raise a glass to the guilty pleasure of glamorous bandits of yesteryear, to the pirates and highwaymen, carnies, con men and thieves with hearts of gold. Learn more at http://www.oddsalon.com/salon/rogue/
Startup Pitch Bootcamp with Adeo Ressi
March 12th, 6:30 – 9:30pm
WSGR Palo Alto (650 Page Mill Road, Palo Alto)
If you have a strong idea that could be pitched more clearly, then join us for the Startup Pitch Bootcamp. In just three hours, this intensive workshop will help you improve your pitching skills and understand the components of a great pitch. Pitching is a key skill of every successful entrepreneur. How do you communicate your business clearly to employees, customers, and investors? What are some common pitching mistakes that make you look inexperienced? What is the best way to pitch your business? Learn more at http://fi.co/e/12401
CoFoundersLab Matchup Silicon Valley
March 13th, 6:30-9:00pm
NestGSV (425 Broadway Street)
CoFoundersLab Matchup Silicon Valley is aimed at helping entrepreneurs find co-founders, advisers & interns and to build strong, core founding teams. Get started networking now with a potential core team member by creating a free profile on CoFoundersLab.com. Sign up now athttp://www.cofounderslab.com/entrepreneurs-meetup-networking/silicon-valley-ca
The Garage: Mobile User Acquisition
March 14, 10:00am – 5:00pm
Runway San Francisco
In this conference, you will learn how to optimize your game or app ready for massive & distribution and monetization. How to get your app Google Play & App Store SEO-ready. How to work get the lower CPI and highest LTV users via mobile ad network. How to acquire users via Facebook, Google Plus and Twitter. Register now at http://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-garage-everything-you-need-to-know-about-mobile-app-user-acquisition-tickets-10417658497?aff=cass
March 21 – 23, 5:00p – 9:00p
Palace of Fine Arts / Tagged HQ
Hackfit is hosting a very atypical hackathon, and is looking for engineers, designers, and entrepreneurs who are passionate about fitness and health. Imagine taking breaks from prototyping to participate in 150+ person yoga sessions, rock climbing, boxing, and other intense workouts. If you share our passion for fitness, health, and technology, please register! Thousands in cash and prizes will be given away! Learn more at http://www.hackfit.com/san-francisco-2014/
Odd Salon – FAKE
March 25th, 7:00 – 9:00pm
DNA Lounge (375 11th St. SF)
Conned, duped and deceived: sometimes, we only see what we want to see; our eyes guided by clever opportunists, convincing frauds, and our own secret desires. Hidden amongst ordinary mortals, tricksters have forged masterpieces, entranced audiences and created fabulous new lives from thin air, molding reality to meet their needs. Accompany us as we unravel the ruses and search for authenticity in the things that aren’t what they seem. Learn more at http://www.oddsalon.com/salon/fake/
Startup Marketing Conference 2014
March 27, 8:30am – 6:00pm
RocketStudios 344 Pine St. SF
Introducing the largest social media and digital marketing education event for entrepreneurs and startups. Due to unprecedented demand, Startup Socials has partnered with the Online Marketing Institute and leaders growth experts to create an educational event solely focused on user acquisition and retention. Proven digital marketing strategies will be amplified by cases successful in leveraging growth hacking techniques. Learn more athttp://www.startupmarketingconf.com/
Marketing Tools Showcase
March 27, 2014 6pm -10pm
RocketStudios 44 Pine St. SF
In conjunction with the long-awaited Startup Marketing Conference, Markting Tools Showcase is the largest in its class and is dedicated to connecting entrepreneurs and marketing professionals with tools and solutions for today’s startup marketing challenges. Learn more athttp://www.startupsocials.com/marketing-tools-showcase.html
Demo Enterprise 2014
April 3rd, 2014
Mission Bay, San Francisco
Technologies from cloud computing, mobile, and big data to sensor networks, 3D printing, and robotics are changing the competitive landscape for enterprise large and small. DEMO Enterprise will showcase an eye-opening array of products solving big problems for business. Don’t miss this opportunity to be at DEMO Enterprise 2014 as 70 amazing new products launch to the world and potentially change the face of markets such as: mobile computing, big data, commerce, DevOps, cloud, health and more! Register now at http://www.demo.com/DE14Partner
April 10th – 11th, 9:30a – 5:30p
Yerba Buena Center, San Francisco
Wondering what the pulse is of the design community? Join a diverse and inspirational group of international and local creative speakers, professionals, faculty and students at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. With an emphasis on design, society, culture – with a little bit of kerning, the two-day conference adapts one of Europe’s most successful design events with a Bay Area twist. Learn more at http://typotalks.com/sanfrancisco/
May 15th, 2:30 – 9:00pm
Microsoft Silicon Valley Campus, Mountain View
Founder Showcase is Silicon Valley’s leading seed-stage startup event, gathering top technology founders and investors to hear and learn from, and helping to launch promising new companies to greatness. The event will feature talks from leading startup entrepreneurs and investors, as well as a series of educational workshops for early-stage founders. Guests will also see an entertaining Pitch Competition featuring 6 promising seed-stage companies, and enjoy appetizers and drinks in a networking hall full of other hot startups demoing their wares for a chance to present on stage in the Demo Table Competition. Learn more at http://foundershowcase.com/
Founders Space brings together founders, angels, VCs, advisers, and innovators to help start-ups rock the world. You can ask questions, join a Founders Round Table, tell your story, or become an Adviser. Visit http://FoundersSpace.com
UPCOMING BAY AREA STARTUP EVENTS
STARTUP EVENT DISCOUNTS:
April 24, 6:00 – 9:00pm
May 10, 9:00am – 5:00pm
Microsoft Conference Center, Mountain View
Moms today are economic powerhouses – and like mama bears, are loving, nurturing, and fiercely protective. MamaBear is a 1-day conference for 300+ startups, platforms, and thought leaders to explore new technology for moms, kids, and families —from education to safety, and health & wellness to community. Our 2012 speakers & attendees included folks from Disney, Sesame Street, Citrus Lane, BabyCenter, Circle of Moms, YouTube, Mind Snacks, ToyTalk, Wittlebee, Plum District, Motion Math, LinkedIn & more! Check out more at http://mamabeartech.co/ and use code “webwallflower” for 10% off.
Splash is a single-track evening event and startup competition. Splash gathers leading entrepreneurs, innovators, venture capitalists and angel investors across technology to inspire and energize the audience about entrepreneurship and innovation. We discuss how to build and scale great successful companies, how industries are changing, and the opportunities those changes are creating. Learn more at http://vator.tv/events/
OTHER COOL STARTUP EVENTS:
What VCs Look For In Series A Deals Today
April 19th, 9:00 – 11:15am
Bingham McCutchen, 1117 California Ave, Palo Alto
Do you know how VCs evaluate Series A deals today from the team, IP, market opp and business model to revenues, customers, partners and milestones? What must the companies have already in place? How far along do the companies have to be? And, how do VCs decide your company are fundable? eynote by Ken Elefant, Intel Capital. Panel joined by Pat Kenealy, IDG Ventures etc. Learn more at http://www.rhpartners.com/
Near Future Predictions about Personal Computing
April 23rd, 6:30 – 8:30pm
Samovar Conference Hall, 1077 Independence Ave, Mountain View
Thanks to Moore’s law, computers have been steadily getting smaller. Starting with today’s powerful smartphones, our personal computing devices are finally on the verge of completely disappearing into the background. This talk explores some of the possibilities. Our speaker Pasha Sadri is a technologist, best known for creating Yahoo! Pipes. He is a co-founder of Polyvore. Learn more at http://
April 24th, 5:30 – 10:30pm
Mighty Bar, San Francisco
SF New Tech is San Francisco’s largest, longest-running, and most-loved technology event and networking mixer for people who can’t get enough of technology. SF New Tech’s mission is to help startups get noticed, raise money, and establish valuable industry connections in Silicon Valley — and beyond. Learn more about this week’s companies and demos at http://april24sfnt-eorg.
April 24th – 26th
We invite thought leaders and innovators to discuss the powerful and inspiring potential of Mobile as a catalyst for change and opportunity. Over three nights and 2 days, global mobile start-up leaders, brand executives, entrepreneurs and visionaries will mix with artists, scientists and musicians to share experiences in a highly interactive format and learn from each other about the disruption that mobile already presents today. Learn more at http://www.
Startup Grind hosts Adam Goldstein
April 25th, 6:00 – 8:00pm
Pivotal Labs, SF
Startup Grind is a global startup community designed to educate, inspire, and connect entrepreneurs. We host monthly events in more than 40 cities and 15 countries featuring successful local founders, innovators, educators and investors who share personal stories and lessons learned on the road to building great companies. This month, join Adam Goldstein, co-Founder of Hipmunk. Learn more at http://www.eventbrite.com/
First time event planners are often surprised by the vast number of lanyard options out there. Who knew you didn’t just go on a website and type “lanyard” and pick a color, right?? So here is a quick guide to answer most of your questions. Hopefully it helps when choosing the best lanyard for your event.
Most lanyards at events are .5″ – 1″. I find the ideal comfort to be .75″ myself. At one inch, it’s starting to chaff against the neck. At a half inch, it’s too narrow to really display any logo.
I think these suck. It just means they are hollow on the inside. So you pay more for a thicker lanyard. They are slightly more durable and often a little softer, just based on how they are made.
There are three popular ways of getting a logo on a lanyard:
- Nylon or Screen Printing: This is where a layer of paint is set on top of the lanyard. This is the cheapest and fastest way of ordering lanyards, often needing just 7 days with shipping. It is also utter crap. NEVER get this colored, as I’ve had experiences where the dye stains peoples clothing on hot days. Even plain white tends to chip off and just look cheap.
- Woven: This is when the logo is actually woven into the lanyard. It can look really professional, but is usually the costliest option and takes quite awhile. Expect 20+ days for delivery.
- Dye Sublimated: This is my favorite by far. This is when the ink is pressed into the lanyard and so looks like it’s just part of the material. It doesn’t come out, ever, and is still affordable. It still is a long print process, so expect 20+ days for delivery.
OTHER NON-LANYARD OPTIONS:
Yes, you do have other options! Here are a few I have tried and my thoughts on them:
- Pins: Oh please Lord, these need to be eradicated. Do you know how expensive people’s suits or blouses might be at your event? And you are asking them to pin something to the material? This shows a thoughtless and careless organizer.
- Bulldog Clips: I actually really like this, as they ensure your name tag always faces forward, isn’t hanging on an ugly lanyard, and doesn’t damage clothing. However, many women’s blouses have no good places to clip these, so it still has downsides.
- Nylon Chord: This is what comes with those Avery kits you can get at office supply stores. It’s the cheapest and fastest option, and it also ensures names always face the right way. But it doesn’t fit in all badge holders, and falls out easily, so it should really just be a safe last-minute option.
I could wax endlessly on badges, but mostly I say: 3×4″, double-sided if you are using lanyards so the name is always visible. Larger and it becomes burdensome. Smaller and you can’t get all the text on it.
This week, Webwallflower producer Cass Phillipps got a chance to sit down with Liana Burtsava, a long-time event producer and the founder of TrendyLime. She specializes in some pretty high class executive events, and we were excited to learn some of her tips for budding producers.
I’ve highlighted some of the key takeaways here, but I highly suggest reading the entire interview below.
“Guests don’t even always notice these glitches [missing models, music hiccups] and just continue to have a good time…so don’t make small issues a bigger deal than they actually are.”
“Running a business is more than just socializing.”
You can catch up with Liana personally at their JetLag event on June 14th, JETLAG blends fashion, travel and good causes in one fantastic evening of high-power socializing. They’re raising funds for “Help Her Learn” program by CARE.org. RSVP for JETLAG http://jetlagsf.eventbrite.com/
Read the rest of this entry »
Every two weeks, I send out a list of over 30+ upcoming startup events in the Bay Area; there’s usually an event every night, with many days having even more. But your time is valuable: you have a product to build and customers to attract. So how do you know which are really worth your time? Here’s a few quick tips to help you decide:
Know Your Audience, and The Event’s
Most startup and technology events will make their attendee list public. Review this and make sure there are people you want to meet! Events are an incredible place to make personal and powerful relationships with potential partners and clients, but only if you do your homework first. Reach out to people ahead of time and plan meetings, to get the most out of an event. Also, look at the event’s target audience. If you want Music – check out the SF MusicTech Summit; for Geo-Location, you need to see Geo-Loco. For Early Stage Startups & Business, FailCon is a great place to start:
FailCon attracts 500 mostly early-stage founders of online technology and services. We also get a decent footprint of designers, investors, and press who want to work with those founders. If you want to make an impression with that crowd, sign up now and reach out to others.
Learning Vs. Networking
Also, be sure you know why you are going. If you are just starting off, you probably need to be attending events to learn. You’ll be able to network at things like FailCon, too (we have over 3 hours dedicated to networking, including themed lunches, workshops, and coffee breaks), but you’ll also get a chance to learn from those who have done this dozens of times, and make less mistakes yourself.
If you have an established business model and product, you need to be networking – meeting clients, investors, and partners. You may look at demo opportunities at events like FailCon, TechCrunch Disrupt, or Pitch; but you really want to be attending more shorter and cheaper events.
Review The Reputation
Finally, always have a good understanding of the reputation of an event: who is producing and how often has it been running. A first-time conference from a first-time producer may be worth just tuning into on twitter or their live-stream. But for something like SMASH Summit (produced by industry-star Dave McClure) or FailCon (running for 3 years by veteran producer Cass Phillipps), there is a much higher chance of bumping into that investor you needed to meet, or that big-company rep you wanted to have acquire your startup. Veterans know what you need to do business at an event, and are more likely to structure their conference appropriately.
Events are certainly not a waste of time; they can be a huge value add for your own reputation and the growth of your business. But you need to focus your efforts and come prepared, and know how to skim my lists and pick out the best. Hopefully this helps!
While moderating a panel between Dana Oshir0 and Kym McNicholas at the recent SF PR Summit, a question came up on twitter afterward on how people can get their CEOs accepted as speakers at more events. Now, I did already write a post on how to get more speaking gigs, so start there. But here are some specifics on how to sweeten that proposal:
1) Sponsor the Event
Yep, going to put that out there. While my events do not have a “pay to play” aspect, many do. And I DO have paid workshops, and look more closely at those companies that sponsor and then ask to speak. You still need a strong speaker and relevant topic, but this a good way to show you are happy to be a supporter right from the start.
2) Propose A Panel or Dialogue
If you write me and say “I can get Kara Swisher to interview my CEO,” I am more likely to look very seriously at your proposal. I know a great interviewer will make a good session, and you just took care of a lot of my work for me. Similarly, saying “I’ll get Pandora, Spotify, SoundCloud, and my CEO for a panel on music scalability” is almost a definite yes, if the other names are strong and relevant. More speakers generally means more attendees, and you just demonstrated that you are well connected and willing to help.
3) Do NOT propose yourself. Get a mutual colleague to propose it.
If you can’t find even one respected colleague that we both have in common to support you, how can you expect me to? You should be able to look on LinkedIn, see how we are connected, and get a friend or coworker to send a proposal for you.
4) Keep It Short
I said this in the last post, but I say it again. Sending an essay on your speaker and another essay on the topic is a guaranteed “DELETE” – I dont have time to read it. Give me an interesting topic title in <7 words with one quick blurb.
5) Support The Event
I may say “No” this time, but I do an event every few months. Rather than just ignore me after that “No”, help me. Buy a ticket to the events and tweet about it, invite press and your colleagues. Help me get introductions to the speakers I am trying to get, or secure a sponsor. For the next event, I’ll realize that you are pretty cool, and you’re next proposal will get a lot more attention.
As the season for FailCon kicks off, I thought it might be helpful to my friends and followers to write a quick post about my freebie-policy. It’s also great advice for any event attendee and supporter out there.
I continue to be uncomfortable when friends ask me for free passes to FailCon. Now don’t get me wrong; I appreciate your friendship, your emotional support, and your conversation. But FailCon is my livelihood for 6 months of the year. It costs about $36,000 to produce (increasing every year), before I see even a penny of profit. If you had a restaurant, I wouldn’t assume my meals would be free. If you had a boutique, I wouldn’t ask for free clothing. How is this any different?
Now, if I brought friends to eat with me at your restaurant, a discount would be nice. And if I actually sent new buyers to your boutique, a gift card is a nice gesture. And guess what, I’m happy to do that, too. So to put it out there for the world, here is my friend and freebie policy:
1) Discounts. If you have been a friend of mine for awhile and feel like we have gotten pretty close, please do not hesitate to ask for a discount. I love giving my friends discounts to my events; I truly appreciate your presence and support.
2) Working. If you want to get in for free, working the event is a great way – especially for friends. I’m on the hunt for 15 – 40 experienced and friendly volunteers for every event. You work for 3 hours and can attend the rest of the event at no charge.
3) Selling. Of course I appreciate your saying “I’ve told some friends” – thank you! But I can’t hand a free ticket to everyone who says that. If you are my friend and want a free ticket, then help me with measurable sales. Buy a ticket now and email me asking for a code to share. I’ll set up a discount code exclusively for you, and track every sale you generate with it. The minute 3 people buy a ticket with it, I’ll reimburse your ticket.
So please, before you next write me asking for a complimentary ticket – or worse, walk up to the door just assuming my staff will let you in – stop and ask yourself if that is really the friendly thing to do to someone working hard to pay her bills. I’d hope you wouldn’t hand me $300 in free merchandise from your boutique, just because I’m your friend. I hope you would ask friends – your first level of support – to help you spread the word, generate sales, and get you into the profitable range before you rewarded them.
I talk to organizers and I ask “who’s participating?” They tell me “Well, I’ve invited….” and rattle off a long list. I ask if any have said “No” (because obviously if they’d heard a “Yes,” they would have said that), and the organizer tends to be pleased to say “Nope, at least no one’s turned us down yet!”
At this point, I internally role my eyes and note that this is a poor misguided soul. If you are not hearing even a “No” back from speakers, sponsors, or partners, then you are not asking correctly. A “No” tends to show someone cared enough about your movement and ideas to take a moment of their time to read your request and respond. It shows that you were tenacious in asking and indicates that you might have a chance next time.
Here are 5 quick tips to get a response:
1) Get an introduction; preferably from someone respected in the industry and close to them. I review LinkedIn to see who knows someone I want to reach and reach out to them, first. Make sure the person doing the introducing also knows your event and believes in it.
2) Keep your first contact short(ish) but get them the info. You should have the theme of the event, the date & location, and the topic of their talk or type of engagement. Sometimes including some past speakers and press can help, and always the website. Keep in mind, this usually will NOT get a reply.
3) Send them a SHORT follow-up 10 days later. This should be one-two lines only: “I wanted to see if you had a chance to review the invitation below. Thank you!” They’ll read this and about 80% of the time, I get a reply within 48 hours.
4) Follow-up again in the next few days. This should not sound desperate; it should list one or two other people you are considering for that spot, but let them know they are your top choice. This is like dating – it shows you have options and are not desperate, but do truly respect them.
5) Let them know you found someone. I rarely get to this step, but I find it sometimes at least gets those last few emails from people I hadn’t heard from. I write a short email thanking them for their time and consideration, and letting them know I did secure NAME to fill that slot, but truly hope they can join next time. Those last few stragglers will usually respond to this, since now there is no obligation or feelings of letting someone down.
This was originally written as a guest post for Eventbrite.com – the original post can be found here.
Your event website is the backbone of your success: it’s the face most people see and what they share with all of their friends. Yet event planners – myself included – continue to forget important information and display shoddy designs with the hope attendees won’t care.
To find out what really matters, I partnered with user testing service TryMyUI and ran a half dozen user tests, covering 3 event websites I know well: BizTechDay, Unleashed Talent (above), and my own FailCon. The results, while not surprising, are a clear checklist every organizer should review when designing a site.
1) Put the Date & Location in the Header
Every one of us messed up on this one. You would be surprised how long it took users to tell me “When and Where is this event?” This should be big and bold right in the header, either to the right or below the logo.
2) Make the Target Audience Clear
People responded well to websites that could summarize ”What Is It?” and “Who Is It For?” in easy-to-read bullet points. My own site currently suffers from chunkoftext-itis, but I’ll be working on that now. Before the fold, make sure you clearly and succinctly say WHO should be attending and WHAT will be covered. The Unleashed Talent site does this well.
3) Make the Price Clear . . . maybe.
After the basic When, Where, Who, What were asked, users then said “Well, how much is it?” and were a bit frustrated they had to click through to the “Buy Tickets” page to find out. This suggests that putting the price on the homepage would reduce user frustration. However, perhaps displaying the price too easily turns some potential attendees away too quickly. I’d love to hear others’ feedback on this. . .
4) People Like Boxes
Unleashed Talent was definitely the most well-received website; people found the large text separated into clear boxes easy to navigate. People liked the look and feel of BizTechDay: the boxed design felt professional and high-quality (though there was some complaint that they were too small and hard to navigate). People seemed a bit lost navigating my own page (no boxes) but responded well to having a box in the corner with basic details on date, location, and contact. This is purely a hypothesis right now, but consider dividing your information into small boxes and laying that out cleanly.
5) Mind the Details
While not statistically significant, a few funny tidbits came up in testing, too:
- One user was trying to “buy tickets” and overlooked the large “Register” button for easily 5 minutes.
- Without being prompted at all, two users said “Oh! It’s really nice that I could share this so easily,” referring to the social connectivity buttons on FailCon and BizTechDay.
- When asked to “Contact the Organizer,” people generally seemed to respond better to a form on the website: less work to complete and easier to navigate. However, one noted that he wished he know the name and email of the person it went to, in case he wanted to follow up.
Through this testing, I saw how even the most experienced event producers can make the simplest mistakes. Before I try to make it snazzy and unique, I need to make sure that the basic information is easy to find and clear to users.
Event producers frequently underestimate the power of their attendee list. You spend weeks designing a cohesive agenda, drawing the biggest names you can find to speak, recruiting powerful sponsors, and yet the one thing that seems to be out of your hand also gets the most feedback: who you had there.
It’s not just the amount of people that make a show (in fact, I’d argue quantity has little to do with it); it’s who those participants are. Where would you rather be: a room of 500 otherwise-unrelated “entrepreneurs,” or a targeted group of 50 funded founders currently active in your target industry?
That’s exactly what producer Brian Zisk and I think about when putting together the hit conferences the Future of Money & Technology Summit (Feb 28, 2011) and the SF MusicTech Summit (May 9, 2011). Mind you, the shows have now grown to over 500 and 800 attendees, respectively. But what makes them a success is not the numbers, but the specific type of people who attend. It is a targeted, driven, and intelligent group, with incredible businesses and stories ready to share.
1) Find The Right Partners – It’s easy to just say yes to every little mailing list and meetup group that asks to promote in exchange for free passes. Be sure to track sales through those groups (and notice just how little their contribution is.) What you really need to do is target large, active meetup groups, engaged and relevant mailing list, and industry-specific publications and request that they join you as media partners. By having their support and branding on the website, you further illustrate the legitimacy of your event to potential attendees, and through their networks you reach a targeted and relevant group of buyers. (For example, we are partnering with Eventbrite to offer readers 10% off the Future of Money & Technology. Take advantage of that here.
2) Create a Targeted VIP list – Plan to allow about 10-20% of your attendees (not counting speakers and sponsors) in at no cost, as VIP guests. This list should be highly targeted – not every blogger or investor on the planet, but local thought-leaders who are especially active in your industry. Those are the people other attendees want to meet, and as an act of thanks for the complimentary pass, they may let their network know they will be attending. For the Future of Money, some of our featured attendees include writers from Dow Jones, eMoney, and Bloomberg News, leading authors, and founders focussing on financial innovation.
3) Publicize Your Attendee List (at the right time.) – Eventbrite lets you make your attendee list public, if and when you choose. Now be careful before you do this; there are certainly events that attendees may not want to publicly say they are attending (invite-only, political rallies, etc.). But even if you have a career-safe event, be sure to pick the right time. Having a list of attendees will influence whether someone wants to sign-up: is the list noticeably short, or lacking influential names? Be sure to get your speakers, sponsors, and VIPs registered before you make the list public. You can find the list of Future of Money & Technology attendees at http://futureofmoney.eventbrite.com
4) Attend Relevant Events – By attending industry-related events, you show potential attendees that you stay aware of what’s going on, know the right places and people, and thus imply that you can bring the right crowd to your event as well. For example, while planning the Future of Money, Brian attended the SF Beta: Financial Innovation meetup and will be speaking at the SWIFT Operations Forum, to name a few.
5) Create a Safe and Proactive Environment –
While this won’t mean much for your first show, it will affect your future shows. For the SF MusicTech Summit and Future of Money & Technology Summit, we not only provide a lounge-like networking area for round table talks and coffee discussions, but we also work a venue that has a number of small side rooms and quiet nooks where private conversations or work can take place. We also draw a crowd that comes ready to cut through the bull-s**t and make deals happen. This sort of environment can arise when a show happens at predictable times throughout the year and can start to create a community of “regulars.” When designing your show, try to host it at regular intervals and personally invite back those attendees whom you feel added the most value.
So as you can see, the type of attendees you attract IS in your hands, a lot more than it may sometimes seem. And it is an important aspect of event planning often overlooked in favor of “get butts in seats.” Even if your event is smaller than expected, if you get high-quality attendees and business actually gets done, it will be an event to remember.