The Start of something new in NY!
This pass Friday I had the opportunity to attend the inaugural START NY 2013 conference (http://startny.eventbrite.com/) produced by Paddy Cosgrove of the F.ounders organization. This is the same organization that put on the F.ounders conference (http://f.ounders.com/) that received rave reviews from the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg and CNN. The Wall Street Journal wrote, “It was a conference that exceeded the hype.” The same can be said of the START NY 2013 conference!
When Paddy Cosgrove first contacted me, he invited me to attend a cocktail gathering of entrepreneurs in early February; unfortunately, I was in Washington, DC attending the PSP annual meeting http://www.psp2013conference.com/. The next week I received a note of apologies to the people who were turned away as the event was packed at capacity.
Afterwards I received a personal email from Paddy inviting me to attend the START NY 2013 event. So I clicked on the link to the site to register only to find that I needed to apply to attend this event. I thought it was just a marketing ploy to get me more interested in the event. Within one day someone from the F.ounders organization in Dublin, Ireland contacted me. The young man asked me a couple of questions. First, “Why did I want to attend the event? Second, what would I contribute to the conference?” After successfully answering the questions, I was invited to register for the event.
Up to this point my experience with the F.ounders organization was outstanding and my expectations were very high. Upon arriving at the location Centre 548, located at 548 West 22nd Street in New York City. http://www.center548.com/, I was intrigued by the layout. First off there is a very cool old school warehouse elevator. The event was held on three different floors. Registration was on the second floor along with the helpdesk, coat check and Round Table discussion section. The third floor housed the Village of companies exhibiting their products or services. Microsoft, Rackspace, PayPal, Moon Toast and Invest Northern Ireland just to name a few of the 30+ companies present. In addition to the cool companies exhibiting there were a few food and beverage vendors serving free samples of their food or beverage. I did taste the fare of www.smorebakery.com and it was delicious.
The food and beverages were also served on this floor and you could feel the electricity as the CEO attendees were brimmed with enthusiasm, excitement and exuberance! The conference was held on the fourth floor and the seating was quite limited (approximately 100+ seats) and probably on purpose as each session was standing room only.
Every speaker and panel discussion was outstanding! This was hands down the best event that I have attended over the last 24 months. The event kicked off with Jeff Clavier of SoftTech VC, http://softtechvc.com/strategy/about-us/ who provided a very candid overview of the criteria that his firm uses to evaluate start-ups. The three criteria is the strength of the founders, great product and a great market. The cool thing about this conference was that each speaker made themselves available in the Village (3rd floor) and was quite approachable. After Jeff’s interview he was in the Village and quite a few people grabbed his ear including me! This was the first conference that I have attended where the speakers were quite accessible to the attendees. To keep the day moving, they had a mixture of speakers, interviews and panels that ranged from 30 to 20 to 15 minutes. The topics ranged from raising money to growing your company, Understanding your competition, the Hype machine (marketing) and the Evolution of the VC – More than money. Each of these panels featured the industry stars and leaders. Wesley Chan of Google Ventures, Tim Forster of KPMG, John O’Farrell of Andreessen Horowitz and Jim Robinson of RRE Ventures just to name a few of All-Star speakers.
Another phenomenal interview was Scott Harrison’s (Charity: water) interview of Lady Gaga’s manager Troy Carter, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Atom Factory, http://www.atomfactoryinc.com/people. Mr. Carter discussed his humbling experience in being fired by his mentor then rising to top of his industry with all of the lesson’s learned. This interview was a great symbol of this START NY 2013 conference as the speakers spoke from the heart about their experience and what hurdles they would face and suggestions as to how they can overcome them.
Simultaneously, in the afternoon there were round table discussions with selected speakers from the conference. You needed to register in advance, as the seating was limited. These 30-minute sessions allowed the CEO entrepreneurs to ask the speaker key questions on the selected topics. I attended the round table discussion on Growing Pains and was hosted by Matt Williams of Andreesen Horowitz. Ten entrepreneurs attended the discussion and the discussion was candid, frank, informative and helpful.
The day wrapped up with WIRED UKs David Rowan’s interview of David McClure of 500 Startups and finished with a awesome cocktail hour and then the attendees were bused for the “Full Blown Party at 230 Fifth, http://bit.ly/1337IxI.
My time at START NY 2013 flew by, I found myself constantly moving between the speakers and the networking. I found both activities to be quite riveting. Every attendee was a dynamic and inspiring CEO entrepreneur. The interview to attend the event definitely achieved its purpose.
If you are an entrepreneur I urge you to seek out Paddy Cosgrove and his F.ounders organization as they are very organized and focused on helping entrepreneurs to get the best level information about starting, running, growing and determining their best exit opportunities. START NY 2013 is the great start of a new event in New York and I expect to see great things from this organization and conference.