Why The Startup Grind Meetup Should Be Free.

January 18, 2011

When I worked @EA I attended some awesome events and conferences. Speakers from the top companies around the world. Tech, gaming, and business. Sometimes they would last a day, and sometimes they would last 3-days. Sometimes they were local, and other times we’d fly across the country to attend.

That all stopped when I left. Within the startup atmosphere I quickly realized that great conferences…are really REALLY expensive!! Want to go to Web 2.0? Got $4,000? Want to attend TED? Try $7,500. Who doesn’t love Mossberg and Swisher’s D9? Dropping $4,800 is enough to make anyone slizzered.

It quickly became evident I wasn’t going to any of these, maybe ever. I think these will eventually corrode down to reasonable levels. Esp considering most of the lectures are available live online for free or pop up a few days later and there are better ways to network now then attend conferences.

I love what @Jason Calacanis is doing with The Launch Conference. He’s charging $400 for bootstrapped companies to attend a 2-day event to watch startups pitch and VCs/Angles scramble. $400 I can do. $400,000 I cannot. This is partly why we’ve invited Jason to speak at our February Startup Grind meetup to talk about the event.

On the flip side there are some great free events. In Silicon Valley the best is Startup School put on by Paul Graham once each year. This features the very best in tech and if you can get a ticket it can’t be missed. The Stanford Bases Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders Series (ETL) is also amazing. All the videos and podcasts are on iTunes for free download, but attending in person is worth the hassle of getting lost on Stanford campus. If you watch the videos look for a bald guy on the front row and you might see me ask a question. And of course  Parc Forum holds weekly lectures that skew older but can be enlightening.

That brings me to Startup Grind. My friend Spencer and I started the event last year to get friends together to share ideas and learnings. It evolved over the months into many more people attending as well as the very best Tech talent for speakers. January’s event will feature Jeff Smith, CEO of iOS powerhouse developer Smule. He told me today his presentation will involve puppets. How can you possibly not come? 111 people are with me on this.

With 330+ members we’re working hard to keep the event free – or basically free. With increased demand that’s getting to be more difficult, but we’re creative about finding solutions to cover cost – or at least get close. We have one GREAT sponsor in Rapid Leap, and we’d love to have more. We’re also going to start putting the presentations online shortly after the event is over to benefit the startup community outside Silicon Valley.

We hope you’ll come to the event and find great speakers to learn from, plus someone interesting to meet. If we accomplish that then it’s more than worth it to us to continue to run it. Based on the amount of great new people I meet every month I can’t imagine not having it. Let me know who you’d love to hear from in March and we’ll try to make it happen.

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