As an entrepreneur, one of the most important things you can do is network with fellow founders, creatives, investors, and thought leaders. Obtaining a strong professional network allows you to share ideas, provide or receive mentorship, and potentially gain positive referrals when you need them down the line. Fostering these connections are startup-focused events – the best of which provide useful knowledge, inspire change, and connect like-minded people from near and far.
There are hundreds of events each year, ranging from niche tech meetups to huge conferences attracting thousands of attendees. So to help you in your search, today we’re providing a shortlist of some of our favorite startup events for entrepreneurs:
- South by Southwest Festival & Conference (SXSW) – We’re starting out with one in our own backyard. Every March in Austin, Texas, SXSW brings together entrepreneurs, creatives, and executives for a variety of panel sessions, hands-on workshops, and networking opportunities. The SXSW Accelerator Pitch Event and Release It pitch competition provide entrepreneurs the chance to win funding and recognition, and exhibitions showcase 20 of today’s brightest startups. Combined with panels to provide an in-depth look at the possibilities and issues facing tech industries around the world, SXSW is one of the largest and most diverse conferences in the U.S.
- CES – Held in Las Vegas, CES showcases close to 4,000 companies each year from industries such as 3D printing, augmented/virtual reality, biotech, drones, artificial intelligence, and more. It also hosts a number of keynote speakers and conference sessions with founders of both established and up-and-coming companies. In addition, CES attracts some of the most influential media companies from around the world for a variety of press opportunities and features the Best of Innovation Awards Honorees.
- Startup Grind Global Conference – Powered by Google for Entrepreneurs, Startup Grind is a global startup community designed to educate, inspire, and connect entrepreneurs. Past speakers have included Marc Andreessen (Andreessen Horowitz), Anne Wojcicki (23andMe), Stewart Butterfield (Slack), Aaron Levie (Box), and many other well-known entrepreneurs and VCs. In addition, startups can apply to join the Startup Showcase, where they’ll be featured an accessible to potential new customers and investors.
- TechCrunch Disrupt – Currently hosted annually in San Francisco, New York City, London, and Berlin, TechCrunch Disrupt gathers entrepreneurs, investors, hackers, and tech fans to discuss emerging technology and trends in the startup ecosphere. Startup Alley allows startups to introduce themselves to attendees, and Startup Battlefield allows early-stage startups to compete for the coveted Disrupt Cup, a $50,000 prize, and the attention of media and investors.
- LAUNCH Festival – With partners such as IBM, Microsoft, and Sequoia, LAUNCH Festival is focused on helping entrepreneurs build, scale, and fund their startups with help from some of the biggest names in tech and VC. Beyond hosting speakers from Greylock Partners, Founder Institute, Microsoft, and Pinterest alongside a Startup Summit for emerging companies, LAUNCH also hosts a competition where founders can showcase their company and pitch onstage – winning startups typically receive funding, as well.
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