Last week I had the pleasure to speak at the Startup Career Launchpad, a conference which invited students to come listen and learn from a pretty great selection of Europe’s Startup Ecosystem. During the conference, I moderated a panel on the impact of startup accelerators with SeedCamp, TechStars, StartupBootCamp, and the London City Incubator (LCI). In addition, I interviewed entertainment company Mind Candy’s CEO, Michael Acton Smith, as well as their CFO/COO Divinia Knowles. Lastly, I closed out the conference’s second day with an interview of Blablacar COO Nicolas Brusson – always a pleasure to talk to them, especially since they launched in Germany.
A beautiful mix between a Startup Conference and a Student Job Fair
The conference itself was quite novel. While it seemed from the outside to be a standard startup conference, the fact that it was a paid conference attended almost exclusively by current students and recent graduates meant that speakers were stumbling over each other to offer jobs to students. Because the event was paid, and the students were seemingly there just to learn about the startup ecosystem or how to launch their own company, the conference had managed to round up the exact group of people who startups are looking to hire – motivated, passionate, go-getter startupers excited at the opportunity of learning as much as they can.
— Launchpad 2013 (@Launchpad2013) 19 avril 2013
When we think of student events, the word “free” often comes into play, but this event certainly defied the logic. While the event may not have been the most attended – 150+ each day on average – it more than made up for in quality what it lacked in quantity. Where normally you’d expect a quiet or nearly daft audience during Q&A sessions, Nicolas Brusson got a pretty good array of questioning as the audience drilled him on how exactly they managed to bootstrap their marketing and what they were doing that made their initial growth arrive. Equally Mind Candy got a very participative audience, with whom they both spoke for a good 15 minutes after the session – I’m sure both parties were equally interested in meeting each other.
As the startup scene becomes more available to anyone interested, I think more conferences like this are going to be necessary to cut through the noise, straight to the signal. The organizers behind the conference, NACUE (National Association of College and University Entrepreneurs), all deserve a big round of applause, but more importantly, I’d say keep an eye on the organization’s CEO, Hushpreet Dhaliwal, as well as Christopher Pruijsen & David Young – these three hustlers kept this conference moving despite constantly changing speaker agendas, and, more importantly, they’ve got that fire in their eye that tells you they aren’t content to just do as well next year as they did this year.