LAUNCH Festival

LAUNCH Festival
The LAUNCH Festival is an annual tech conference that focuses on launching new startups. According to its organizers, the LAUNCH Festival is the largest startup event in the world. It is a major platform for founders, investors and growth experts from across the globe.

The LAUNCH Festival can be regarded as the successor to the no longer existing conferences TechCrunch40 and TechCrunch50. Although legally unrelated, all three events were created by the same person, American Internet entrepreneur, blogger and angel investor Jason Calacanis.

When Michael Arrington and Keith Teare re-branded TechChrunch50 as TechCrunch Disrupt, Calacanis split from the TechCrunch series of events and created his own conference. This led to a minor controversy. TechCrunch refused to cover the inaugural LAUNCH conference although it did profile several startups and competitors during the conference. However, the associated articles didn’t mention Calacanis’s conference at all.

The first LAUNCH Festival took place on February 23 and 24, 2011. It featured 140 startups. Despite the lack of attendance, one of the causes of which was the boycott by TechChrunch, the conference was a success and it was decided to make it an annual affair. Since then, the LAUNCH Festival has grown to become one of the largest events of its kind both in the United States and abroad.

The main goal of the LAUNCH Festival is to support startup founders from around the world and to help them connect with investors. Each year, around 50 startups are revealed and launched at the festival (hence the name of the event). The participants of the Pitch Competition have 4 minutes to pitch their product on the main stage. The panel of judges selects the winners in each category. The winner in the Best Overall category receives a $100,000 investment.

Along with the Pitch Competition, the LAUNCH Festival hosts a Hakathon that begins the weekend prior to the main event. It features about 1,000 experience programmers and designers split into teams of 4 members. Each team has 48 hours to build a product. The finalists present their products on the main stage and the winners get a chance to participate in the main Pitch Competition and to get the Grand Prize.

Other events and activities at the conference include the Demo Pit, keynote speeches, workshops and mentoring sessions, founder & investor speed dating, panel discussions, round tables, networking events, and more. They attract a total of 12,000 attendees per year.

LAUNCH Festival

Photo: Cristian Liu


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