Downtown Redwood City will soon be crowded with tech company founders, CEOs, venture capitalists and other industry leaders, along with aspiring ones, once the annual Startup Grind conference kicks off Feb. 12.
A tent has already been erected in Courthouse Square, streets will be closed and, for two days, just about every venue one can think of downtown will be hosting a packed lineup of speakers, including Joe Gebbia, co-founder and CPO of Airbnb; Arlan Hamilton, founder and partner at Backstage Capital and Aaron Levie, co-founder and CEO of Box, which is headquartered just a few blocks away.
The conference features well over 100 speakers and they will talk about everything from growing a startup and the future of venture capital to artificial intelligence and diversity, said Karlie Valine, chief marketing officer of the conference.
There will also be a pub-crawl Tuesday night and companies will demo apps, including IOTAS, a smart apartment platform for the real estate industry, bNOTES, which helps organizations collect thoughts and communications, and dozens, a money-managing tool. And of course there will be plenty of networking opportunities.
“We’re all about bringing great people together and fostering innovation, great ideas and community,” Valine said. “Whether you’re thinking of starting a company, building a company or looking for a job at a startup, there’s something for everybody.”
This is Startup Grind’s flagship conference — the company has 600 chapters in more than 120 countries and hosts regular conferences in each of them — and its fourth consecutive year in Redwood City. The event began in the Computer History Museum in Mountain View in 2013 before it outgrew that city, Valine said, and relocated to Redwood City, where it plans to return next year.
Valine said 500 people attended that first conference in 2013 and it’s been steadily growing since. There will be more than 8,000 people in attendance this year and they’ll be coming from all over the world.
“We noticed this was a city people would flock to when we started and it feels like Redwood City has grown along with us. It now headquarters big tech companies that weren’t here when we started,” she said. “We fell in love with the Fox Theatre as a main stage and the city itself has been really supportive.”
Club Fox, Fox Forum, the movie theater and the San Mateo County History Museum will also be used by the conference, and tickets range from $200 to $500, which is about half of what most other tech conferences cost, Valine added.
Past Startup Grind speakers include Jan Koum, co-founder of WhatsApp, Katrina Lake, founder and CEO of Stitch Fix and artist and producer MC Hammer. Every year brings a fresh roster of speakers, who don’t get paid to participate in the event.
“They come to give back to the community and to startups,” Valine said.
In June, Startup Grind produces a second “global conference” in London that draws 3,000 people from all over Europe.
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