[UPDATE: Thanks to everyone for the hundreds of venue ideas you've sent in as a result of this post. My team, 2 Pears, will respond as soon as they can to every one, but not immediately, so please be patient, thanks].
We interrupt normal programming to bring you an issue that’s affecting our ability to create a better tech ecosystem in Europe. At TechCrunch Europe we’ve been trying to help really energize the startup tech community across Europe – which suffers from the difficulty of being disparate and spread out – with a series of organised meetups.
These are unlike casual networking events just in a bar. They feature speakers, lots of pitches from startups (no startups pay to pitch of course, ever) and live video streaming for those who either can’t make it or who want to tune in to get a glimpse of what the tech scene is like in that country. That live feed has gone onto TechCrunch.com and brought hundreds more to visit the place we’re in.
Now, we’ve done this so far in plenty of places, such as Helsinki, Paris, Stockholm, Barcelona and more recently Berlin and Munich. Frankly I didn’t think we’d be doing anything anyone on the local scene hadn’t already done at some stage. However, without exaggeration I’d have to say the reception in each place has been incredible. Clearly there is something about the the TechCrunch brand that brings all the right people together in the one place: entrepreneurs, startups, angels, VCs and other interested parties.
So we’d like to do more – visit more European cities, do more events. But – and here’s the point of this post – we are fighting against Europe’s high venue costs.
Wherever we’ve been we’ve attracted 150-200 attendees or more – that’s practically a full conference, even though we usually have just an afternoon of presentations and then an evening of networking. Every time we do this we need to find a venue that can hold that many people. Often even more want to come. This is our biggest cost. But European venues like hotels and conference centres still seem to operate on a tediously high cost basis, despite the economic environment.
There are two things that have made this easier. Firstly where a corporate partner steps in to help. In Munich we were lucky to be able to use the great facilities of a large Sun Microsystems office. Secondly, sometimes a startup has a great office which is just large enough to fit 150, maybe 200 people – as in Berlin with the office of Zanox. But these partners are rare. We may also explore more university venues.
So, one of the big obstacles standing in the way of our creating an event where we can showcase startups to the TechCrunch audience is venues. If we can find more affordable venues, or even free venues – combined with commercial sponsors – we can create more events and better coverage for the startups scene in Europe and everyone will benefit.
So take this as a blatant request: If you’re in Europe and have a space this kind of size and want to partner with TechCrunch Europe – especially if you are in the East, such as Ukraine, Russia, Poland and beyond – then please get in contact with our events team 2Pears.
Secondly, if you are a specialist in live streaming events (as in camera people, plus live web streaming etc), then get in touch. Around Europe we have worked with Bambuser, Sevenload, Newspepper, Stream5 and others. If a venue doesn’t have WiFi but we can find a partner who can provide WiFi, then that’s of interest too.
Lastly, obviously we need commercial partners, of course, so get in touch about that as well.
End of rant.