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The Best Events to Launch Your Start-up with a Bang

When it’s time to let the world know about your start-up – what are your choices?

Having launched technology startups now for 10-plus years in Silicon Valley, many entrepreneurs ask me the same question over and over: Where, or rather, at what event should I launch my brainchild?

The goal for entrepreneurs is usually the same; EYEBALLS!

How to get media coverage and meet as many investors or buyers as possible. Despite the similar goal, the answer is: It depends.

There are a lot of really great events for company debuts out there, some of them established platforms like Bi-annual DEMO or the Red Herring Summit, some of them relatively newcomers like Web 2.0, TechCrunch Disrupt or Startup Debut. Each one has its own pluses and minuses, but one common element is that they all charge money to participate.

DEMO event twice a year- Demo.com: Great media attendance, if you make it to DEMOGod, you get more traffic then you know what to do.

Red Herring North America, Asia and Europe events - http://www.redherring.com/events/ - Hot spot of Venture Capitalists. The movers and shakers of Silicon Valley are Alex Vieux's buddies. Some tried to discredit Alex Vieux, but his events are still the hottest ticket in the valley. It's hard to get an invitation though.

TechCrunch Disrupt http://techcrunch.com/disrupt/ great buzz event, more hipsters then VCs.  Pretty much everyone can get in if you payl

Venturebeat, GigaOm and AlwaysOn also offer industry specific events, for mobile, greenIT etc, worth considering.

Media Events around major trade shows like CES, CTIA, NAB, E3 e: First class media events Pepcom.com and Showstoppers.com - both very big media events, although pricing is between 6k and 16k, it's still much cheaper than a booth at one of the big shows and you can hit all media in one evening.

Startupdebut.com - much smaller than Pepcom or Showstoppers, still a hot ticket as they show the smaller up and coming companies. Pricing around 3k.

This list is in no way complete, I am simply limiting the list of launch events that I personally attended and liked.

This fact often leads to a new set of questions, such as why entrepreneurs should have to pay to meet other business people and the press, and why do the events cost so much. The key thing to remember is that you are not paying to meet VCs or the media. You're paying to save time. Costs vary anywhere from $2,000 to $16,000 for a three hours to 3-day events. Even if participation of such an event is tied to a competition, the fact that every participant needs to pay his/her own entry fee, levels the playing field and frankly is the only way to avoid conflict of interest between  start-ups, venture capitalists and even organizers.

In an area like the Silicon Valley, you could spend every night going to different mixers, spending countless hours and often seeing the same faces each time. Or, you could go to a two-day Red Herring event and meet the same number of contacts, as well as international buyers flying in for the conference whom you'd never run into at that open bar down the street. You'll also be able to get in front of the media who flock to these events for the same reason: they can get a half year's worth of stories from one weekend.

Once you've recognized that conferences and tradeshows are simply opportunity costs of doing business, the larger issue becomes which event is the best for you.

Timing might be the biggest deciding factor, just like toys and apps are best launched mid to late summer for the Christmas season; there are seasons for industry specific launches...  As well, your decision will be guided by your ultimate goal, media, funding or industry contacts? Events like Demo can deliver loads of media coverage, especially if you manage to win the Demo God award. If you are in search of funding, Red Herring's CEO, Alex Vieux, has the best connections within the international VC scene. As a plus, if you have been short-listed for the Red Herring Top 100 Awards, that's often a good enough pre-selection and introduction for most venture capitalists to want a closer look at your startup.

However you decide -  Best of luck!

Disclosure: Socialradius works with several startup event organizers like Demo, Red Herring, Digital LivingRoom and StartupDebut etc.

More Stories By Xenia von Wedel

Xenia von Wedel is a Tech blogger and Enterprise Media Consultant in Mountain View, serving clients in a variety of industries worldwide. She is focused on thought leadership content creation and syndication, media outreach and strategy. She mainly writes about Enterprise, B2B solutions, social media and open source software, but throws the occasional oddball into the mix. Buy her a coffee if you like her article: http://xeniar.tip.me