San Diego Startup Week used to be a grassroots gathering hosted by a group of software entrepreneurs, many in their 20s and 30s, who felt like the city needed a welcome place for tech founders. The first year, 2012, attracted a couple of hundred attendees. In recent years, it's attracted more like 3,000.
San Diego Startup Week — a seven-day convention usually packed with hoodie-wearing entrepreneurs and engineers — this year will feature over 200 sessions between Tuesday and June 3. For the first time in the event's history, organizers scored a prime location for the bulk of its activities: the San Diego Convention Center.
Startup San Diego, the nonprofit that puts on the event, has also switched up the format this year. Instead of focusing strictly on the downtown region, the event will stretch to locales in Tijuana, Barrio Logan, downtown and Carlsbad.
The week will include educational talks about launching and growing a startup, targeting entrepreneurs in the idea stage to fast-growing companies that need to scale. There will also be a pitch competition, a walking tour of downtown startups, mentoring sessions for attendees and lots of networking. A highlight of the week will likely be the "unicorn" panel on May 31, featuring executives from San Diego's latest technology startups valued at over $1 billion, including software firm Seismic's CEO Doug Winter.
The event is organized almost exclusively by a team of 100 volunteers, as Startup San Diego only has one paid employee — executive director Jarrod Russell. He said the city's successful entrepreneurs, more mature startups and business accelerators pull a lot of weight when it comes to organizing the programming.
Tickets for Startup Week range from $50 for students to $119 for full-price attendees. The complete schedule is available online.
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