It’s a radical concept that may seem too good to be true. A 100 percent virtual and completely free conference? But a Charleston, South Carolina-based startup is making the concept a reality this month.
Launchpeer, a high-growth tech consultancy, is hosting the inaugural Launch Summit beginning September 18th. The event is 100 percent online and free features five days of sessions and live Q&As with 23 speakers from around the country.
Jake Hare, cofounder and CEO of Launchpeer, hatched the idea in an effort to disrupt the traditional conference model and make learning opportunities accessible to entrepreneurs.
“Conferences are expensive, and it’s hard for cash-strapped startup founders to justify spending money on airline tickets, food, event passes, etc. when it could be spent on marketing, development, and growing their business,” Hare said. “We also didn’t want to restrict the awesome content to people who could make it in-person; a virtual conference lets us give the information to anyone with an Internet connection.”
The virtual aspect of the event reflects a growing trend in remote, web-based work. A 2016 forecast by the World Economic Forum called flexible work and virtual teams “one of the biggest drivers of transformation” in the workplace, and emerging markets like Charleston are becoming hot spots for digital nomads and startup founders.
By approaching the Summit like a minimum viable product, focusing solely on content and eliminating venues, frills, sponsored swag, and awkward after parties, Hare and his team at Launchpeer are able to keep Launch Summit completely free. And by keeping the event web-based, they’ve been able to pull some pretty major speakers.
The lineup includes successful entrepreneurs like Laura Roeder, founder of Meet Edgar, Chris Savage, founder of Wistia, Sam Parr, founder of The Hustle, and Jordan Berry, cofounder of Interloop. Participants will also learn from C-level leaders and investors at GrowthX, Lyft, Streetshares, Hubspot, and Humble Ventures.
How did an entrepreneur in Charleston land industry influencers like this…for unpaid speaking slots, no less? He pushed fear out of the way and asked. Many of the presenters said “yes” because they’ve been in the trenches. They understand the pitfalls of traditional conferences and how inaccessible (and intimidating) big events can be for early-stage entrepreneurs.
Throughout the five days of programming, Launch Summit’s 23 speakers will offer business and marketing strategies tailored to first-time founders and non-technical entrepreneurs. Participants will learn practical applications in idea validation, creating and launching a minimum viable product, growth hacking, and venture capital, and each session will include follow-up homework and action items for continued learning.
Entrepreneurs who want lifetime access to all Launch Summit videos and content (as well as priority spots during live speaker Q&As) can purchase affordable VIP tickets. 100 percent of all event proceeds will go to Kiva.org to support entrepreneurs in emerging economies around the world. Says Hare:
“Kiva is an amazing organization and because money wasn’t a primary driver for doing the event, we were excited to send all the proceeds their way. A lot of entrepreneurs around the world don’t have access to the resources we have. Many don’t even have an Internet connection. By donating to Kiva, we hope to make entrepreneurship more accessible to more people, which is Launchpeer’s primary mission.”