Ours is a town where meaningful connections are crucial to entrepreneurial survival. At the same time, our spread out geography and car culture leaves much contact to be desired in the building of networks and fellow pioneering support.
Avant-garde infobahn pioneer, Kevin Winston, Founder and CEO of Digital LA, is known for pushing the envelope, dominating the red-carpets, and most of all leading Angelenos in peer to peer digital circles that will launch our next success stories. Twice a year, Winston leads production for one of the largest tech event hubs in Southern California, Silicon Beach Fest. The chosen nerve center for fall’s installment: WeWork Labs, Hollywood.
On the Boulevard, in the midst of Superman shams and celebrity fanfare, stands this special ecosystem with talent unique to the jungles of SoCal. WeWork Labs hosts a bevy of startup talent in all stages of proliferation. Their website boasts the famous Vincent Van Gogh modus operandi, “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” Bam. Stage set.
Our Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp. events team had a whirlwind year pushing the envelope in pursuit of mastering brand identity (e.g. the virtual Holy Grail), small business education, and crushing content opportunities across the U.S. While immersed in conquering the world, one small business owner at a time, we were able to send one of our tributes…*ahem*…revered interns to catch the action. Turns out he cleans up well (as long as he’s got his suit and tie), and has a great story to tell.
Gregg Foster recounts the day best in his own words, but you don’t have to take my word for it…
Silicon Beach Fest is LA’s place-to-be for startups looking to get noticed. Armed with workshops, speaker panels, and a plethora of valuable networking opportunities. I spent nearly all day (and night) at the event, and listened to industry-leaders speak on topics such as marketing strategies for the digital age, monetization, content management, and soaked in everything I could from digital innovators like Adam Chapnick of Indiegogo and Doug Barasch of Universal Music Group. I couldn’t help but realize what an incredibly valuable opportunity this was for the ever-growing startup community we have here in LA, and I wasn’t the only one to take notice.
“We’re experiencing a renaissance. Tech companies are popping up everywhere and it’s happening organically. We’re here to help out however we can.”
The most popular request? Free WiFi, something Mr. Gubler was definitely in favor of and mentioned that Hollywood would be the first district in LA that would offer the service if it were to happen.
Perhaps the most exciting part of the day’s events was the Startup Showcase which featured 20 startups that had the opportunity to pitch to LA’s top VCs–what an opportunity! The showcase was the largest collection of entertainment startups to pitch at an LA event, and I enjoyed every one of them.
The amount of creativity and innovation was astounding. So who came out as top dog? A very well-deserved congratulations to David Baird, founder of Gigmor, a website that matches musicians with compatible players in their area.
With all the energy flowing around the room, I became interested in what others thought about the event and also how it stacked up against those in Silicon Valley. Josie Roman, affiliated with Buzzfeed, had some interesting insight,
“In San Francisco, there are many more developers than there are good ideas…in Silicon Beach, I find it is the opposite.”
If Josie’s observations are accurate, then events like Silicon Beach Fest are the perfect way to connect the community with the necessary individuals that are vital to continuing the growth of the startup population in our area. But is that enough? A former Google intern speculated that if LA was not so spread out, it could be an even more desirable hub for startups. What keeps LA attractive is the simple fact that it’s a media powerhouse–something that San Francisco will never be (at least for now).
By the time all my curiosities were appeased, it was time to make my exit…or so I thought.
The networking fun continued with a private closing party at The Writer’s Room which included one more speaker panel on Social Media Strategies for DJs, followed by a little dancing at Supperclub which we entered via a private entrance connected to The Writer’s Room. For VIPs, a party at the Spare Room at the Roosevelt Hotel was also underway.
My favorite part of the event? The insanely addicting live social aggregation digi-wall made possible by John Rembold of Pulsoviral. There’s just something about seeing my thoughts on the big screen that make me feel…..relevant!
Without a doubt, Digital LA is making all the right moves to help integrate the tech startup community into the Los Angeles ecosystem and if this event was any indication of the future, well then….Kevin Winston, you’re doing it right.
Be sure not to miss the next Silicon Beach Fest held in Santa Monica Summer 2014 and I’ll see you there!
Were you there too? Be sure to detail your experience in the comments below. See you at the Beach!