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What is Upstart?

Upstart is the conference we’ve always wanted to attend, but rarely could.

Why? Why did we—and many others we know— get sick of conferences on startups and entrepreneurship?

Problems with the Speakers

“Speakers who just don’t deserve to be on stage are invited. Sponsor pressure?”

[We have no sponsors. So no speakers that sponsors can insist upon. Speakers at Upstart may be famous or unknown. But they will always be exceptional]

Problems with the Session-design

“There’re often speakers with a lot of experience and insight. But they are poor presenters. So we end-up watching a dull deck of slides when we could have learnt from their answers in everyday language” [The core format of Upstart is a specific, focused, Q&A-driven dialogue for speakers. Check this as an example]

“Sometimes the sessions are too short. Especially panel discussions. There’s a great speaker who we’d love to hear more from, but we get to hear her only in snatches of a few minute” [Upstart sessions will almost always be a deep-dive with one carefully selected speaker. And no panel discussions where people who’ve spent hours to fly-down and participate are asked to summarize their views in chunks of two-minutes]

Problems with the Audience

“Questions or interaction are usually pushed to the end of the session with a ‘We have five minutes. Just two questions please’.

If I cannot engage with the speaker, why should I bother to come and not just watch it on YouTube?

[At Upstart, focused engagement with the audience is at least 50% of the session time]

“The moment ‘Any questions from the audience?’ is announced, there’s a frenzy of raised hands.

People are selected completely at random, so any idiot who gets the mike first can drone on pointlessly” [At Upstart, audience members are asked to submit questions upfront after researching. We expect even our questions—not just the sessions—to meet the criteria of intelligence, insight and non-obviousness]

“The audience is often a motley collection. With over-representation from the media, corporate-types, sponsor-company staffers…” [At Upstart, over nine-tenths of the audience will be people who work at or lead startups]

Problems with the Content

“If I can’t attend, I rarely learn. The content exists mainly as an unedited (or poorly edited) recording or livecast of the session itself [At Upstart, key questions will be asked and recorded with the speaker separately, allowing the creation of content that is purpose-made for absorption. Check a list of questions here]

Basically, we’re designing this event EXACTLY as we want (and hope to keep improving it) because this is not a commercial event being designed to maximize profits.  Upstart is an event designed primarily to maximize authentic learning.

We can’t make Upstart as good alone, as we can with your participation. If you have absolutely any suggestions (on the format, speakers, content, engagement…) please email Gourav Jaswal at [email protected]