What I learned at the 2018 Startup Grind Annual Conference

Ok. I got it.

At our monthly Startup Grind Events I always tell our audience about what an incredible resource the Startup Grind global network is with the full financial and intellectual power of the Google for Entrepreneurs program behind it.

But it all became very real when I went to the 2018 Annual Startup Grind Conference February 12-14 in Redwood City, CA (20 minutes south of San Francisco on the CalTrain and home to Box’s HQ).

I am resolved this year to take our chapter to a whole new level.

As a chapter director, I can go on the SG Slack channel and communicate with other directors around the world who are committed to supporting their startup communities and making the kind of connections that really count.

Need boots on the ground in New York? Got it covered. Need cybersecurity experts in Israel? No sweat. Need a low-cost software developer team in Eastern Europe or India? I’ve got trustworthy teams that are part of the network. And these just some of the folks from around the world that I spent the week with.

Why should you care? Because there is a demonstrable direct correlation between the success of entrepreneurs / startups and the effort they invest in networking and making connections. It’s not just getting out there and doing it, but it’s the quality and extent of the network nodes that leads to acceleration of resources, customer introductions, and meeting the right investors.

What makes Startup Grind unique is not only it’s global scale but the same shared sense of purpose and we’re-all-in-it-together mindset that is the magic of the Flywheel member community. And it all starts with Startup Grind values:

We believe in making friends, not contacts. We believe in giving, not taking. We believe in helping others before helping yourself. We are truly passionate about helping founders, entrepreneurs and startups succeed. We intend to make their startup journey less lonely, more connected and more memorable.

Startup Grind is a connected online and offline network of vibrant startup communities to help fuel innovation, economic growth and prosperity at the local level. While Startup Grind was founded in Palo Alto, California, the extended network now includes 350 chapters in 115 cities, with over 1 million members, 2,500 volunteers and 4,000 weekly event attendees.

Here’s what I experienced at the annual conference:

  • The event took over all of Redwood City with 7,000 attendees
  • The top investment firms in the country attended and the speakers were world-class household names in the startup community.
  • It was one of the best planned and executed events I’ve ever attended, but what made it truly awesome was how the directors from all over the workd pirched in with out asking what to do and made everyone welcome and cared for.
  • Over 300 startups exhibited in tents, 50 pitched on main stage
  • We arranged over 350 meetings with investors and VC firms
  • The director retreat was at Google’s HQ, was focused on best practices, the improved operations platform, and the incredible growth happening in 2018

In early 2015 we were able to enroll the Triad region in the Startup Grind global network of entrepreneurs.  Back then it was not easy to do. You had to present a 12-month event plan with a roster of successful entrepreneurs and investors measured against the best of the best. Today, we have a thriving startup ecosystem and much better connections to startups and investors statewide and throughout the Southeast.

This year we are going to build a team to take our chapter to a whole new level. The team will focus on sponsorships, marketing/communications, and event planning/execution. The speakers will rise to a new level and we will move the event around the Triad to reach new and bigger audiences.

If you are interested in being part of the team or just helping as a volunteer, reach out to me at pmarsh@flywheelcoworking.com.

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