It’s good news in the current economy that anyone is thinking about launching a startup, but the proof that the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well was in the turnout for the Startup Grind Global Conference in downtown Redwood City in April.
Upwards of 2,000 people turned up for the sold-out two-day event held at the Fox Theatre, not counting online viewers around the world. Attendees got to hear from business leaders with advice about how to be successful, and tips on a wide range of subjects, from obtaining capital to dealing with workplace issues.
They also got a chance to network and to potentially connect with the venture capital world. The sessions took place in the theater, as well as Club Fox and the San Mateo County History Museum, and vendors set up displays in a tent on Courthouse Square.
From the first Startup Grind event 10 years ago, Fox Theatre General Manager Ernie Schmidt says it has grown exponentially—from 500 to 800 people that first year, to 8,000 in 2019, the last year it was held in Redwood City pre-Covid. The first year attendance hit 3,000 to 4,000, coffeeshops and cafes were caught off guard and ran out of food in an hour or two.
“So now we prepare them and let them know when the event’s going to be and approximately how many people,” Schmidt says, so restaurants can be fully provisioned with food and staff. “It’s become an event that they actually look forward to,” he says. “It’s their Christmas.” Entire restaurants get booked for private parties.
Beneficial as the conference is to local businesses, Schmidt says Redwood City has also been an attractive venue for the organizers because it’s affordable and accessible. “Compared to San Francisco,” he says, “Redwood City offers a great deal and it’s a very personal, very intimate downtown.”