San Diego Startup Week – Recap & Thoughts

(repost from: & more details of the week @

Whew! San Diego Startup Week is behind us. I hope you were there, met someone interesting, enjoyed yourself &/or learned something. Thanks again to all our sponsors and volunteers that made it all possible – we couldn’t have done it without your efforts and support.

Personally, I am glad for many reasons, but generally 1) thought it was overall a success and am proud of what a small team was able to put together, 2) it was a huge improvement over what we were able to do last year and 3) we can finally relax a bit and get back to personal priorities.

In the spirit of transparency, I wanted to share some takeaways, thoughts, and requests with the community. The organizers had a recap meeting a week after the event and synthesized your feedback from the survey (+ we want to hear more in the comments!).


  • Attendance. ~600-700 total attendees (~300 week long passes purchased, lots of one-off event passes sold) Almost all events were full, except end of week (burnout?)
  • Quality & Involvement. General caliber of events was vastly improved, still a range. 15 total events from 8 different startup organizations (+ some more the appeared last minute). Top 3 events (by ratings) were (in order): Opening Ceremonies, Tech Crawl, Mentor Night
  • PR. Attention in local press about the event, a few national pieces, even some TV spots!
  • Demographics. Especially impressed with the m/f balance (more than I’ve seen in any city)

Needs Improvement:

  • Better organization / information for events ahead of time
  • Too many parties.  One opening party and one to close would have probably been enough. Parties didn’t have the same attendance or energy as the week progressed.
  • Too many demos. While demos have their place, our feeling was there were ~4-5 pitch/demo-centric events within the same number of days. The events that were either geared towards topical issues or smaller interactions (or just fun) faired better.
  • Some events will be cut/changed as the response was only mediocre.

Future thoughts:

  • Moving the date so we have students in town
  • Topical tracks. Perhaps by stage (idea/team-building phase, pre-seed, post-funding) or biggest issues (like GTM or Customer Development or Fundraising)
  • Small interaction activities (more events like Mentor Night – one idea we plan to try is to enable groups of 4-8 people to grab dinner around town)
  • Career-fair type event for startups to recruit talent & interns (hopefully open-air)

Finally, we need your help! If you came to an event and want to help out (either during the year on some of our regular events or for next startup week – please let us know! Email me and we’ll find a spot for you.

Please feel free to comment or send us information / suggestions below.  Thanks again to the rest of the team, the sponsors and the volunteers for making it happen!


Austin is a co-founder of Startup San Diego, SD Startup Week and serial entrepreneur. His last company went through the Y Combinator program and was previously a mentor at TechStars & DreamIt while working as a venture capitalist. He survived MIT with degrees in EECS and Business and UPenn’s Wharton School for his MBA. He grew up in San Diego and returned 1.5 years ago on a mission to improve the ecosystem. For more about Austin – check out his blog: where he regularly posts about observations, tips & tricks for startups and his other passions (film, food & philosophy).