How to Make the Most of San Diego Startup Month #SDSM2020

By Neal Bloom

In its 8th year, San Diego Startup Week, the popular gathering of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and talent, has come a long way – from the quality of the speakers, the maturity of the startups, and the breadth of skills-based content. This year, we have expanded the event to a month full of activities, and it will all be virtual and interactive. The Startup San Diego team has been working exhaustedly behind the scenes and are eager for you to join in. Grab a ticket using our discount code TACOPOD30 and we’ll see you on Opening Night Kickoff on October 1 at 4 p.m.

San Diego Startup Month (SDSM) is built for a few audiences: Founders, investors, tech talent, job seekers, service providers, community leaders, and soon-to-be-entrepreneurs. Below are some recommendations on how to make the most of the month depending on your journey. Here’s an FAQ if you have more questions of how the month will work operationally.

The virtual conference will use interactive tech platforms Run The World and Virbela. Make sure you familiarize yourself and download the softwares ahead of time. Both have been chosen to give you a deeper experience of connecting with others than just a Zoom room. Learn the value of these platforms so you can take advantage of your time.

First things first – you need to review the whole schedule and find what is good for you. But also, know that the organizers planned the time of day to make sure that events don’t interfere with your work schedule, so expect events at Noon and 4 p.m. or later Monday through Friday. Also, depending on the skill you need to hone, there is a track for you. From sales, marketing, data, design, dDevelopment, people, customer, and founder, the track system was developed for everyone; we all need to enrich our skills in order for our companies to grow at the rates we need them to to further boost San Diego ecosystem.

Networking – This is the biggest opportunity of a conference and this virtual conference is not going to miss this chance. Every single SDSM event has networking built into it, so the last 15 minutes of every talk, panel, etc…, has a networking event at the end so you can make connections with those who have similar interests. Make sure you participate. 

Founder – Are you running an existing company? You’ll probably want to level up a few skills on the skills tracks, like sales, customers, and people. The Founder track incudes some of the basics of validating an idea, knowing when/if you should raise capital, how to sell a business, etc….

  • Every week, there’s a Pitch Feedback event where mentors will give you feedback on your pitch. Definitely utilize that time and apply here.
  • The Startup Month Incubator is a first of its kind where you will get mentored for the entire month of October by entrepreneurs and investors. Applications are due by September 30.
  • Raising Capital from Angels on October 6 at 5 p.m. will helpyou determine if you are building a company that needs outside capital or not, what kind of growth rates are expected, and how to meet angels.

Job Seekers – Have you always wanted to work at a startup but haven’t understood how different it would be than an enterprise-size company? Want to see how your skill sets can be valued at a hyper growth startup? The skills-based tracks are for you. They will teach you how startups think about design, development, data, etc in a fast paced startup environment. The People track will also give you guidance on how teams are managed and run differently in startups. 

  • Opening Kick Off – October 1 at 4 p.m. With an opening fireside chat and panel, virtual reality world for networking (including creating your own avatar), and companies at virtual booths, there will be a plethora of activities to meet other like-minded attendees.
  • Career Incubator – On October 16 at 4 p.m., a virtual startup career fair will kick off. Meet dozens of local startups, practice interview questions and get feedback, and other networking tips.
  • LinkedIn Tear Downs – Date TBD, but expect to sit down with experts who will give real time feedback. Keep an eye on the schedule for these.

Investors – Whether you are a pre-seed, seed, or late-stage investor, there will be plenty of opportunities to meet companies throughout the month. While attendees and speakers are at all stages of the entrepreneurial journey, there’s a way to focus your time.

  • Inventors and Investors Pitch Competition – October 9 at 4 p.m., come hear from 10 finalists who are research or university-linked entrepreneurs pitching to a pro team of judges.
  • Student Startup Entrepreneurs Panel – October 27 at 5 p.m. to understand how the local university incubator programs are working and the teams working on their startups.
  • Startup Incubator – October 1-30, all month the incubator will berunning, giving you a chance to meet with startups as they are progressing.
  • Pitch Feedback Show – October 5 .pm. and twice every week. Hear multiple pitches from founders. Can also get in touch if you would like to help judge.

Soon-to-be-entrepreneurs – As a speaker said at last year’s Startup Week, “You don’t have to be great to start, but you do have to start to be great.” Starting is the hardest part and the sooner you learn how to test and validate your ideas, the sooner you can start your journey. There will be lots of opportunities to learn how to do this and where to find help.

  • The Entrepreneur’s Journey – October 14 at noon. Get an orientation of the San Diego startup community, what resources exist, and which ones are the right ones for whereyou are on your journey.
  • Kickstart Your Product Build – October 8 at noon. Learn tips to minimally build a product to validate the idea before you spend months on a full product. Experts will teach lean methodologies. 
  • Pitch Feedback Show – October 5, 7, 12, 1
    4, 19, 21, 26, & 28 at 5 p.m. and twice every week. Pitch to a team of judges and get real time feedback to continue improving.

Service Providers – There are so many aspects to running a business and your services are essential to help companies get off the ground and thrive. To meet entrepreneurs and decision makers, look at the networking events at the end of every panel. Be strategic in picking events that have the speakers you want to meet and then utilize the last 15 minutes of each event to network and meet those you are trying to meet.

  • Opening Kick Off – October 1 at 4 p.m. With an opening fireside chat and panel, virtual reality world for networking, companies at virtual booths, there will be a plethora of activities to meet other like minded attendees.
  • Ecosystem Orientation – October 14 at Noon. Most entrepreneurs are at different stages in their journeys. They just have an idea, they are learning to validate the idea and ready to go all in. It’s hard to know what resources an entrepreneur should be asking for and is available to them. This panel is to help efficiently orient the community and service providers are fantastic orienters, so come learn how you can help get our founders on the right path, growing faster, and utilizing everything at their disposal, including your services.
  • Most of the skills-based tracks, like Design, Development, Data, People, etc…, are filled with both speakers and attendees who are decision makers like executives at large and small companies. Come out and meet them, especially in the last 20 minute networking part of every event.

There really is something for everyone and we hope you maximize your time and energy throughout the month. See you there!

Neal Bloom

Neal Bloom

Neal is our founder and CTO (Chief Taco Officer). He’s the person behind our weekly Bloombites column, giving insight into the current tech happenings in San Diego and interviewing tech leaders on the Tacos and Tech Podcast. Neal went from working on rocket engines to becoming a tech entrepreneur and investor. When he’s not working, you can find him going on trail runs and experimenting to make the perfect cocktail.

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