By Nicole Jordan
I attended more events this past month than ever before. At each one I’ve met new interesting people, almost all working on some new stealth company that’s not launching for 3-6 months or is just getting off the ground. Thursday, March 27th was DealMaker LA’s first mixer. Held at the Clearstone Venture Partners office in downtown Santa Monica, 250 people packed their swank office, complete with wrap around balcony (which made for a nice shortcut through the crowd from the bar to the food.) A private VC speed date was held the hour before the event started. That Debbie Landa is a firecracker with a bell when those 5 minutes are up. When she says time’s up, she means it. It was pretty entertaining to watch. Some were nervous others clearly used to the routine. Receiving end VC’s: Clearstone, GRP Partners, Mike Jones,
CNBC made an appearance for a story about the startup scene and interviewed a number of people before things got too crazy. The flow of people was constant as was the chatter and I’m pretty sure it lasted longer than scheduled. I wouldn’t know. By 8pm my voice was hoarse, my feet were killing me and I still had work to do so I cut out. All in all a really strong kick-off.
Friday night was met with a big bear-hug to welcome CommunityNext to LA in the form of a pre-party at Air Conditioned in Venice, famed Twiistup stomping grounds (but not anymore.) It was a combination of Twiistup attendees and CommunityNext-goers, a recipe for a perfect cocktail. There was a great energy. Everyone was excited for the conference the next day and eager to chat and meet new people. I saw more than one laptop pulled out to show a website or demo, not to mention the constant poking at those things, what are they called? Oh right. iPhones. Everywhere.
Saturday was a full day of CommunityNext-ing. Noah Kagan and Karen Hartline are gracious hosts and throw a very worthwhile event. There were some pretty impressive speakers talking quite candidly with the audience. At least from what I could tell because, quite honestly, I couldn’t seem to tear myself away from the loungy back rooms at the venue (Level 3) where there was serious industry talk going on. Cameras interviewing new start-ups. Scoble on the, gasp, iPhone. Rafat Ali breaking some story. @mashable coming and going. Bloggers capturing it live. Entrepreneurs gathering impromptu talking about their business, technologies, anything and everything. One would get up, two more would sit down. It was a constant churn of enthusiasm and interesting people. I sat down on a couch and didn’t move for at least two hours, just absorbing it all. Talking to whomever was around. Got into a very enlightening conversation with Jon Bischke about start-up investment trends, the fracturing of the VC market, working with VC’s, current attitudes toward vs. angel investors and most entertaining to me the naming of hottest area of VC growth: the Sweet Spot. It’s that $500,00-1.5M range that’s fueling a ridiculous amount of start-up growth. It led to questions around how traditional VC’s are adjusting their investments to compete with private entrepreneur investors who have the start-up capital and the experience running and building companies inside and out. Fascinating and one I’m planning on exploring a lot more. Here’s some Flickr action from attendees.
Interested in checking out Community Next? Noah and Kagan are bringing “Game On” to Sunnyvale on June 21st. See their website for details.
Following CommunityNext it was time to head over to Seven for MashMeet LA 2. They knew it was going to be crowded but I think the Mashable guys under estimated their popularity. It was packed. As in: excuse me, excuse me, excuse me packed. A few times I just found a corner and sat down to get out of the crush. Stickam was there doing live videocasting with attendees. The TechZulu guys were at it again. There were so many people to catch up with and new people to meet it was hard to have a conversation for very long. I felt like I was doing laps the entire time, with each new turn running into someone else I hadn’t seen the last go round.
And how can I forget the FlashMashMeet sponsored by Causecast, in part to say thanks-for-visiting to Pete and to see him to his new home in San Francisco. Notice went out a few hours beforehand and a good 50 or so people popped in and grabbed some drinks, conversation and cards.
It was a lot in such a short period of time but it was totally invigorating. I recently heard from a venture reporter for a reputable venture-focused magazine that she’d heard from VC’s in SV that what we’re doing down here is a bunch of “wannabe mixers.” Anyone who takes the time to come here and meet the people I meet will be converted in an evening. The sheer force of of all these interested people working to build something is incredible. We’re not saying it’s there yet or even close but we’re working on it and everyone is enthused and ready for action. And that’s what matters. No TV crew or online article is going to capture it if you’re not here to experience it in person.
Check out Brian’s re-caps of Bub.blicio.us’ trip to LA for TechSet/PopCrunch recap from April 9th and 10th.
Until next time…
Thanks to Andy Sternberg of LAist and Andrew Warner of Mixergy for letting me “borrow” their photos. Click their names to see the full sets.