By Justin Biel, trends editor at Grow Wire & Miranda Myers, staff writer at Grow Wire
⏰ 5-minute read
If you’re looking to grow your business, chances are you’ve considered attending a business conference in 2019. However, it can be tough to determine which of the many options will be most worthwhile for you.
Some conferences focus strictly on one sector, like technology, while others sprawl into music and the arts. Some are invite-only or require an application, while others simply require ticket purchase.
Learn about your options below, and choose an event (or don’t!) that attracts the crowd you want to connect with while serving your goals.
Relationships are critical to business. Thus, hundreds of business conferences operate annually across the world, each intended to help leaders connect while learning more about their industry.
Naturally, each conference targets a different audience. From tech-heavy to lifestyle-focused, domestic to international, buttoned-up to dressed-down, there is a gathering for every type of leader and every set of goals.
Here’s a guide to the big-name business conferences you’ll hear about in 2019. If attendance is on your to-do list, use the rundown below to choose the event most likely to help you grow.
What: Startup Grind, a global entrepreneur network with more than 1.5 million members, developed this tech-heavy conference in partnership with Google for Startups, Google’s founder-focused resource hub. The conference is aimed at technology professionals, investors and promising startups from around the world.
Who: Startup Grind Global is perfect for startup founders seeking exposure and businesspeople who want to rub shoulders with the brightest minds in technology--it takes place in Silicon Valley, after all.
When: Feb. 12-13
Where: Silicon Valley, CA
How to attend: Purchase tickets online.
Price: Costs are $445 for individual passes, $555 for investors and $750 for VIP passes.
Bonus: The top 50 startups showcased each year are invited to join Accelerate, Startup Grind’s invite-only community of fast-growing startups.
What: Touted as one of the fastest-growing technology conferences in the world, Collision Conference is a mixture of independent conferences at the intersection of business and technology. The one-of-a-kind event allows access to 14 different conference tracks with a single ticket. Collision Conference covers industries such as auto tech, SaaS, robotics, health and wellness, marketing and fintech.
Who: This is a one-stop-shop for attendees who want to get a wide look at technology’s impact across the entire business landscape in a single location.
When: May 20-23
Where: Toronto, Canada
How to attend: Purchase tickets online.
Price: It’s about $286 for an exhibition floor-only ticket, $377 for a general attendee, $3,500 for “executive” and $16,984 for “chairperson.” (Prices converted from CAD to USD.)
Bonus: This is a huge event of 25,000+ attendees, hosted in a city popular with U.S. travelers.
What: The invite-only Montgomery Summit brings entrepreneurs, investors and executives together around cutting-edge developments in business and technology. Founded by Jamie Montgomery of March Capital Partners, the summit’s central element is its company presentations, in which select technology companies present to VC investors and executives. The presentations offer a chance to score funding and build strategic connections.
Who: The Summit attracts the suit-and-tie crowd, with heavy representation from established VC firms and well-known companies like Nasdaq, SoftBank, and Accenture. Company presenters range from seed stage to pre-IPO.
When: Mar. 6-7
Where: Santa Monica, CA
How to attend: To attend as an individual, you must be selected by event organizers. To attend with your company, you must be nominated and approved by The Montgomery Summit committee.
Price: Cost ranges from $2,195 - $3,195.
Bonus: There’s a pre-conference event specifically for women: The Rise of the Female Entrepreneur brings together female founders, executives and VCs.
What: The self-described “world premiere technology conference” promises a three-day experience that will address the industry’s most pressing issues and give a glimpse into the future. Through in-depth conversations and workshops, speakers--who have previously included Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk--hope to make an impact on technology’s next generation.
Who: Code aims to gather a global community of the biggest names in the business, including both executives and startups with bright futures.
When: June 10-12
Where: Scottsdale, AZ
How to attend: This event is by invitation only. Applications are available for free online and require a short answer to, “What is the main reason you would like to attend?”
Price: Upon acceptance, attendees will receive pricing information. (For what it’s worth, previous attendees have noted that hotel prices were around $350 a night.)
Bonus: This year’s venue is The Phoenician, a luxury hotel in Arizona, and the keynote speaker will be David Solomon, chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs.
What: Next Gen Summit is tailored to ambitious young entrepreneurs looking to get business and funding resources, make media connections and build friendships with other entrepreneurs. The event offers peer networking, motivational speeches, professional development workshops, one-on-one mentor meetings and ongoing access to Next Gen’s online resources and community.
Who: This is for young entrepreneurs (think high school through college-age), whether first-time founders or serial entrepreneurs, who are looking to learn about entrepreneurship and meet business-savvy peers.
When: June 7-9
Where: New York, NY
How to attend: Apply online, and be ready to explain a project you’re working on and what you hope to get out of the summit.
Price: Prices range from $249 - $449 for three days of programming.
Bonus: Attending the Summit means joining a tribe of young people with big dreams and access to resources, some of them financial. According to its site, “Next Gen resources have led to tens of millions in VC funding.”
What: The Human Gathering is an exclusive, invite-only “immersive experience” that brings together minds in business, technology, philanthropy and the arts. It was “created to bring together a select group of individuals who are dedicated to leaving a mark on the world, with access to the resources to do so,” per the event website. The gathering is capped at 120 attendees, which have previously included founders and executives from companies like Facebook, Nike and YouTube.
Who: The Human Gathering is for the founder who is looking for quality over quantity in their relationships and supports the idea that honest human interactions can spur social progress.
When: April 4-6
Where: Los Angeles, CA
How to attend: Interested attendees must fill out an online application, after which they may score an in-person interview and approval from the host committee.
Bonus: The Human Gathering is equal parts annual event and year-round networking club. Current members include actor Dylan McDermott, XPrize’s Peter Diamandis, medicine specialist Dr. Drew and Basecamp’s Jason Fried.
What: SaaStr Annual is the largest B2B software conference in the world. The event brings together over 12,000 SaaS--that’s “software as a service,” for the non-techies among us--executives, founders and venture capitalists for three days of speakers, networking and mentoring. The conference is all about results, with “actionable advice and learnings to help grow your business from $0 to $100M ARR,” according to its website.
Who: SaaStr Annual is the top choice for those in the SaaS industry who are looking to fast-track their company’s growth with a focus on fundraising.
When: Feb. 5-7
Where: San Jose Convention Center, San Jose, CA
How to attend: Purchase tickets online.
Price: Cost ranges from $699 for a single-day pass to $2,999 for an all-access pass.
Bonus: Prioritizing diversity and inclusion, SaaStr Annual offers 1,000 free VIP passes to attendees from groups that are underrepresented in the B2B/SaaS community.
What: South by Southwest’s business conference is no longer overshadowed by its widely popular musical component. SXSW, as it’s commonly known, includes speakers, keynotes and more than 25 conference tracks that attract movers and shakers from industries including film, music, technology, cannabis, media and journalism. With the charms of Austin and a plethora of live music and late-night events, this conference feels grown-up but still rough around the edges.
Who: SXSW is for folks who don’t want their business conference to feel like one, and it pulls attendees from a wide range of industries.
When: Mar. 8-16
Where: Austin, TX
Price: It’s $545 for the Education Badge, $1,250 for an Interactive, Film or Music badge and $1,550 for an all-access badge.
Bonus: The conference features a diverse range of session formats including book readings, meetups, mentor sessions, pitch events, roundtables and workshops.
What: Once a year, leaders from Fortune 500 companies and some of the top emerging tech entrepreneurs meet with the investors to discuss trends and how to capitalize and improve upon them. This convention is part of a larger conference series hosted by Fortune Live Media.
Who: This is a conference for top business leaders, policymakers and experts who are ready to discuss the global business agenda. In short, it’s the big leagues.
When: July 15-17
Where: Aspen, CO
How to attend: Register online.
Price: In order to attend, you’ll need to become a Brainstorm member, which includes a fee of $8,500. In addition to conference attendance, you’ll get access to resources and smaller events throughout the year.
Bonus: Additional Brainstorm events include small dinners and conference calls, access to a contact directory and membership services.
What: The original “cool kids” of the conference scene, a group of millennials founded Summit Series in 2008. The group intends “to connect and foster a global community of today’s brightest stars.” It hosts multiple events per year, structured as three-day gatherings in places like Los Angeles, Tulum, Kenya and Utah. Called the “Davos for up-and-comers” by Business Insider, each Summit Series event explores art, business, social impact, wellness, cuisine and entertainment.
Who: Summit Series is a hip, young group, with a strong contingent from coastal cities like Los Angeles and New York.
When: This year’s flagship event is Nov. 8-11.
Where: This year’s flagship event is in Los Angeles, CA.
How to attend: Apply online and be ready to explain why you’re qualified to join the Summit Series group of thought leaders and innovators.
Price: $3,000 - $5,500, depending on the event.
Bonus: This year’s flagship event will take over Downtown Los Angeles’s Broadway Theatre district and a number of local hotels to create a centralized community gathering space.
What: A-Fest (short for “Awesomeness Fest”) is the brainchild of Mindvalley founder Vishen Lakhiana. A-Fest “gathers an extraordinary community of change-makers and visionaries who are driven by epic ideas to impact the world,” per its website. The annual event takes place in a different “paradise location” each year. (This year’s venue is Portugal.) A-Fest comprises “experiences” like talks, workshops, excursions, parties, activities and wellness activations.
Who: A-Fest’s socially-conscious, mindful crowd is looking to network and meet others who believe in personal development and achieving dreams.
When: May 30 - June 2
How to attend: Apply to attend. You must provide a bio, social media profile and information about your proudest achievement.
Price: Attendance costs $3,000 - $5,000, not including flights.
Bonus: Attendees have the option to enjoy daily excursions, local entertainment and Burning Man-style parties.
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