Silicon Beach Fest kicked off at the Viceroy Hotel

The Abbot Kinney First Fridays Blog in Venice, CA, aka “Silicon Beach”, has covered the major Silicon Beach related conferences for the past two years.

The premiere startup, venture capital and social media conference took place from June 19 – 22, 2013 in Santa Monica. It was v3 of Silicon Beach Fest (SBF)  started one year ago. Photo Gallery

Panels, presentations and parties were all part of the mix for SBF. The main venues were coworking spaces, Cross Campus and ROC in Santa Monica about ten minutes walking distance between both venues which served the fest well, compared to a year ago when there were multiple venues spread out between Venice and Santa Monica. While they were great venues it was too much trekking around and having two venues was a notable improvement. Overall, the event was more of a well oiled machine this year.

Kevin Winston, Digital LA at the Viceroy VIP Party

The event Director and Founder, Kevin Winston from Digital LA did an outstanding job of organizing the SBF3. He put together a great team that was comprised of Venture Capitalists and  leading Social Media and Digital Media firms.

A short list of those involved in SBF3, many of which are seen in our photo gallery: Dan Dato and Ronen Olshansky from Cross Campus, Walter Grieves from ROC, Shawn Colo from Demand Media, Efren Toscano from TechZulu, Amanda MacNaughton from Promojam, Mark Landay from Dynamic Synergy Corp. and Arturo Perez from Kluge Interactive to name a few of the dedicated people involved in this successful conference that drew 3000 participants this year.

Shawn Colo from Demand Media speaks at the Viceroy VIP Party

Starting with the parties, a vital part of any conference or fest in this case, kept it festive and was a great vehicle for connecting with investors and entrepreneurs alike in an informal atmosphere. The event was kicked off at the Viceroy Hotel, with a VIP reception that was buzzing with excitement and enthusiasm and set the tone for SBF.  Shawn Colo from Demand Media gave the well attended reception a warm welcome, with Kevin Winston from Digital LA doing introductions and emceeing. Kevin was seen with his red camera, tirelessly documenting everything from the parties to the panels. A general reception followed in the pool area at the hotel for attendees that came from LA, the US and across the globe.  

Earlier in the day was a pre-conference event luncheon for Digital Women plus Demo Day at Cross Campus. Thursday and Friday were the major days of the conference with tracks for investors, startups, innovators, advertising, entrepreneurs, digital content and more. There were so many good events happening at the same time, it was hard to choose which one to attend.

Meet the Angels Panelists and huge crowd at ROC

The Investor panels were very popular, not surprising at all and drew big crowds, such as Meet the VC’s and Meet the Angels with lively panels moderated and organized by Mark Landay from Dynamic Synergy Corporation, featuring the larger than life Jeff Lapin of Tech Coast Angels, who was more than willing to share his experiences, the candid and funny Wendell Brown from LiveOps, David Cremin of DFJ Frontier, who was highly esteemed by the other panelists, to name a few participating in the panels. Many of the panelists invest together and refer business to each other, advising startups to start a relationship early in the game and not to play one investor against another as they all know each other. There was a clear camraderie amongst panelists. 

The panelists were very open and forth coming, sharing their successes and mistakes with the audience and a good dose of humor. The importance of relationships was a thread throughout the panels, much more so than any other factor. It was noted in both panels that the ability to “pivot” was important for a startup and that most startups shifted their business model several times following investment, whether it was vc or angel investor.

The Los Angeles investor – startup scene was differentiated from San Francisco  in the Meet the VC’s panel by content creation, such as film, blogging, social media and games. David Kremin of DFJ Frontier noted that “LA can benefit from serial entrepreneurs,” while Brian Garrett of Crosscut Ventures said that “the most damaging to LA are flameouts” mentioning one of those startups by name, however, there was a cautiously optimistic view about the growing LA investor – startup scene. Clearly, the panels were informative and enlightening to the audience that asked questions and got answers!

Content Marketing Panelists at Cross Campus

Another track at the conference was advertising, that included a  well-attended panel on Content Marketing: Distribution and Monetization, moderated by Kylie Jane Wakefield, Content Writer. It included an interesting and engaged group of panelists, with Malcolm CasSelle, Media Pass, Brendan Kensel, MediaShift, Kristi VandenBosch, Meredith Xcelerated Marketing, Robyn Ward, Glossi and Ophir Tanz, Gum Gum. Some of the threads running thoroughout the panel were: branded video content will be big in the next few years, according to Robyn Ward from Glossi and the biggest current trend is the “flight to premium,” content according to Malcolm CasSelle from Media Pass. Plus an integrated approach to advertising with social media, being the star of this panel. 

While social is embraced by many companies, that finding innovative models for monetizing it is still new territory, requiring further development.  While most panelists represented big brands it was refreshing to hear Robyn Ward from Glossi bringing smaller, entrepreneurial businesses in the mix, especially, since many of the attendees fall into that category. She noted that the smaller companies were less strategic than large companies, yet they are more agile and large on creativity. There were moments of disagreement on the panel, which made it even more interesting to attend, such as monetizing a brand as a measure of success, using a Red Bull campaign for instance, that increased major brand awareness for it, according to Ophir Tanz, Gum Gum, using that as a measure of success, versus the bottom line where it didn’t increase sales, ie monetization, a point made by Malcolm CasSelle from Media Pass. The jury is still out on  that aspect and only time will tell.

Cooley Party: Janet Gervers from Abbot Kinney First Fridays Blog
front & center, Joy Kennelly from Joy’s Travel Adventures, back row

Overall the panels were spirited, informative and interesting and included more women in them this year, except for the VC/Angel Investor related panels.  Change is in the air and it will be even more intriguing to catch the next Silicon Beach Fest!

Silicon Beach Fest Photo Album >

Previous Silicon Beach Fest Articles from AKFF Blog:
Silicon Beach Fest 2: Venice goes to Hollywood! >

The New West Coast Digital & Creative Hubs: Venice & Santa Monica – Silicon Beach Fest! >

It’s All About Venice!