What happens at LA Tech Week stays in LA (and on this blog)
A16z hosted LA Tech Week with the slogan “Time to Build”. Thousands of founders and investors descended the streets of West Hollywood, Venice, Beverly Hills, and Santa Monica with many of the events (including our own) only being confirmed a week before kick-off. With very little build up to the program, what resulted was truly a testament to the amazing start-up ecosystem that is being created in Los Angeles.
An ecosystem we are very excited to be a part of and help build.
The usual suspects were all in play with some fantastic events being hosted by M13, Greycroft, TenOneTen, Bam Ventures, SVB, Sony Ventures, Mantis, and more.
What was unusual was the insane amount of interest and enormous attendance – especially considering there wasn’t really a formal structured event to center activity around.
Over one hundred events were launched by brands and funds who set up and created their own format. They took place all over the city. While a hundred seems like a lot, it wasn’t nearly enough for the thousands of people taking part – resulting in most people gate crashing events and sourcing addresses by ‘those in the know. The entire week felt a bit like corporate FOMO.
Having previously had a lot of experience getting into places when I am not on the guest list, I knew how to play my cards and managed to wrangle myself into all the events I wanted to attend. However, many people were not so fortunate.
To give you an idea of scale, TenOneTen partner Minnie Ingersoll, a member of the WhatsApp group where investors planned the event said, “If there were 1,000 slots, 14,000 people RSVP’d”. We found the same with our own event – but more on that later.
Regardless of the unexpected exclusivity (so Hollywood), the events were truly fantastic. Networking meetups included everything from sound baths to surfing lessons, long beach walks and cooking classes. The events started early in the morning with most people wearing sunglasses to avoid hangover detection and lasted well past sunset on the Strip.
Sandbox Studios’ – Happy Hour & Celebrities
Sandbox Studios fully got involved and hosted one of the “better LA Tech events” (not just my words) of the week in partnership with Serena Ventures, Winklevoss Capital, Umana Venture Studio, Viral Studio and Alphaa.io – Celebrities, Viral Content & Venture Capital.
Considering it was initially set up as a casual happy hour drinks event, we were shocked to have over 1,200 people register for an event that we had to capacity for 80.
Although booze (supplied by our portfolio company Hape Sake) was a clear draw for people to attend, we combined it with a fantastic panel ‘Celebrity Brands: Love Them or Loathe Them?’ which I moderated with guests Ba Minuzzi (investor), Ashley Greene (celebrity founder), Trisha Biggio (operator), and Sebastian Paredes (marketing).
Our panel takeaways
The panel was truly impressive with fantastic insight. Even though it was outdoors, you could quite literally hear a pin drop. For those of you that missed it, the best key takeaways from the panel included:
- “Ask a lot of questions to truly understand where everyone is coming from to create an authentic partnership with both parties equally engaged in the objective” – Ba Minuzzi, Umana Venture Studio
- “It took a lot of hard conversations to understand where we the founders were best placed within the business and who should be doing what tasks” – Ashley Greene, Hummingway
- “The economics are better to not work with a celebrity, but we were only able to do that once we had nailed a playbook working with top talent to roll out a strategy” – Tricia Biggio, Invisible Universe
- “You need more than just a big name to get better, you need better content for things to truly go viral” – Sebastian Paredes, Viral Studio
It was a fantastic day and I can’t wait to do more events with my venture women partners soon!
Final shout out
To Minnie Ingersoll who invited me to my favorite event that week – surfing lessons with TenOneTen, which just happened to fall the morning of my birthday.
Proof I did it here (and yes I was very excited about getting up):
Click the image to listen to a clip: