How We Created the “Grand Central Station” of Startups and People Who Are Changing the World

From pizza in my garage to 40 founders having coffee with Vinod Khosla; this is how Global Conference came to be and what you can expect at Global 2024.

The story of our Global Conference begins in 2012, amidst the early days of Startup Grind's expansion. New Chapters were starting up every month, and local "Directors" were bringing together founders in their cities, but we struggled to connect them to each other across the globe.  

We started to think of how we could bring these people together in a cost-effective way, and the most natural idea was to throw a big event and hope that we could entice the organizers to come, to build relationships, and to work together. 

We thought: What if we invited the best founders and CEOs from Silicon Valley to speak, to share their insights and expertise, and maybe even their funding? We felt it might be just enough to get Startup Grind Directors to fly in.

Lucky for us, that's exactly what happened.

Since those early days, Startup Grind Global has evolved into the #1 event for startups. It is a magnet for not only the top leaders of the startup community but thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs from the global startup ecosystem. It’s really like the Grand Central Station of Startup Grind. It's a place where anyone and everyone who is on the grind in today's startup and tech ecosystem can join for community, connection, and to meet the most interesting people from around the world. 

As an entrepreneur and startup founder myself, I know the difficulty that comes with trying to break through with a new business or product, no matter how revolutionary your ideas might be. While Startup Grind Global can’t build you the perfect team or design a bestselling product for you, it can shine a significant light on what you’ve created. 

Many of the companies that have exhibited at the conference have gone on to major success. Many of the people who have led a Startup Grind chapter have gone on to major success, personally and with their own companies. So if you’re working hard and you're sharp, or you've built something really impressive, Startup Grind Global is a great place for the world to start to see it.

The power of the Startup Grind Global platform for entrepreneurs and founders to share their stories and educate the next generation - or to be educated while on their own journey - is impossible to overstate. Part of this power comes from our core values, which are super simple - it's about giving more than you take, helping others before you help yourself, and making friends (not contacts).

As the team and I look forward to this year’s event in April, we continue to be amazed by the fact that Startup Grind Global always seems to be ahead of what’s happening. If you’re coming, you can know for sure that regardless of which talks you attend, you’re sure to hear kernels of the future being spoken about by the leaders who are transforming technology and shaping the new era of startups and AI.

Garry Tan of Y Combinator, Howie Liu of Airtable, Jack Altman of Lattice & Alt Capital, Manish Chandra of Poshmark, Aileen Lee of Cowboy Ventures, Emily Chang of Bloomberg’s The Circuit, Tim Draper, plus leaders and founders of Zapier, Whatnot, Miro, Notion, OpenAI, Coinbase, and so many more will be covering topics like: 

  • Investor Insights: Defining Your AI strategy
  • A New Era of Unicorns and What's Next for Silicon Valley 
  • AI-Driven Expansion: Scaling Growth with Multi-Product Strategies
  • Striking a Balance: Revenue and Venture Funding for Startups
  • The New Founder-VC Relationship
  • Fintech 2024: Navigating Current Trends for Startup Success

Plus, the Q&A Stage is back by popular demand... and it’s probably one of the coolest things we do at this conference. Every single one of our speakers donate their time to speak at Startup Grind and on this stage they get up-close with the community, ask-me-anything style. Last year I watched 40 founders chat with Vinod Khosla -- an opportunity and experience you can’t find at other tech conferences. 

Of course, each of the past 10 Global Conferences have had their own uniquely memorable moments, like being in the audience to watch Clayton Christensen, Jermaine Dupri, or MC Hammer talk. Or hearing from Utah Jazz team owner Ryan Smith, who sold his company for $8 billion dollars. 

Or when, so early on in the days of digital currency, an attendee in 2013 tried to pay for their conference ticket with Bitcoin, and the team thought they were being scammed. Not only did we not accept it, we may have told the person to leave... And that $500 ticket would be worth about $150,000 today!

But there’s another memory that sticks out in my mind even more in recent years - the time when Sam Altman, a near-constant trending name on X these days, spoke at the conference in 2015. Like everybody else at the time, I had no idea the way OpenAI would transform the world years later, or I probably would have begged him for a job.  

The one thing I know for sure is that whatever the things are that are going to change the world, they’re going to be at Startup Grind Global. I hope to see you April 23-24, 2024 in Redwood City. 

- Derek

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