Two Tribes Go To War: How did Launch48 and StartupWeekend clash on the same dates?

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Sometimes there are bizarre clashes in the tech world which just have to be stomached. In Europe the scene is so distributed that at any one moment there is some tech event in one country while an identical event is happening over the border. People have to make choices. But to have two almost identical events happen in the same large European city, aimed at the same audience, at the same time seems at best tragic and at worse careless on the behalf of the two organisers.

TechCrunch likes to see events which promote startups and are accessible. Both Launch48, a home-grown UK-based initiative to mentor startup teams and the somewhat older, international Startup Weekend network are very similar.

But this Friday in London they are both on at the same time, and aiming at the same audience, for the same weekend. How did that happen?

Personally I feel conflicted because although I’d like to support both I can’t clone myself. I committed to speaking at Launch48 (about the media) before I realised that StartupWeekend was on *at the same time*.

This seems like an unnecessary clash, so I reached out to the two sides find out what happened.

Damien Saunders, who is organising London Startup Weekend for June 4-6, similar to their event last year.

He told me over email “Its funny that they [Launch 48] chose to do their event the same weekend. We had been talking amongst ‘ourselves’ about June 4-6 for some time, but couldn’t announce the date until we had approval from the venue sponsor. I have tried to contact the Launch48 team via their website and directly with Ian [Ian Broom, an organiser] but not got any replies. BTW – London is a big enough city … we should be able to get good numbers for both events.”

I was surprised at that response. I figured Launch48 would have got back to them.

I asked Launch48 co-founder Ian Broom the same thing. We covered Launch48 last year.

He told me: “We didn’t know another StartupWeekend event was going to be held in London until after we announced Launch48 dates.  The date for this event was selected based on Launch48 and Paypal’s [the main sponsor] venue availability. We are disappointed as I know some attendees would have liked to attend both.”

I put it to him that StartupWeekend had tried contacting Launch48, but claimed they got no response. Was that true?

“No, we definitely wouldn’t have run Launch48 in competition with them, how would that help the community?” said Broom.

So there you go. I am as confused as you are. But what is clear is that such similar events being on at the same time doesn’t really help anybody. Apart from anything else, TechCrunch Europe does not have the resources to cover both. Not many media have, especially when the two are so similar.

So I’d put it to the two side to start talking.

  • Ian Broom

    Hi Mike,

    Thanks for covering this unfortunate clash of dates and including quotes from Damien and myself.

    I would really have liked to speak with Damien about Startup Weekend as the Launch48 Conference (which you’re speaking at) may have been of interest to Startup Weekend attendees and I am sure working together we could have made a strong event for all attendees. I didn’t as I was in Australia and Asia travelling after being married and on my honeymoon.

    I hope Damien and I can catch up after this weekend and swap notes on our events. And of course we don’t want our events to clash in future.

    I wish Startup Weekend the best of luck this weekend with their event and I look forward to reading techcrunch’s coverage of both events.

    Ian Broom
    Launch48 Co-Founder

  • Damien Saunders

    Hey Mike,

    We knew we were up against a deadline with the World Cup starting next week, which I’m sure Ian and his team had thought about too.

    Anyone coming to London Startup Weekend this weekend will find out just how big a city London really is, and it will create some great energy to show everyone that there are entrepreneurs all over the place taking action. Attendance at this weekends event has already exceeded expectations which shows that London is a thriving city when it comes to new business ideas.

    From what I’m seeing and hearing, London needs to do more to support and attract startups in new technology, digital and the new media industries in order to challenge the powerhouses of East Coast & West Coast USA. We’ve been asked if this will hurt the startup community, and I’d say that both events bring together a bunch of amazing people interested in learning how to and actually starting something new. Mike, I’m sure this article has done a great job of getting people more intrigued to check out both events, so thank you.

    With so much interest, London Startup Weekend will be making a repeat visit later this year – so anyone that was not able to come this weekend, please keep in touch to find out when we will be holding the next weekend. Of course we expect to hear from Ian before we schedule the next event to see what sort of things we can do that will only benefit the community.

    In the spirit of doing things together – I’m asking everyone attending these weekenders to meet and present their new startups next week in London.


    Damien Saunders
    Startup Weekend UK Organiser

  • Jess Williamson

    Maybe London needs a StartupCafe? Ha!

    Will be at Launch48 this time around, I’m sure a fun weekend will be had by all :)

  • Zebedee

    Personally, I considered it an affront to sterling efforts of Launch48 and all the organisers that there was such an appalling clash, the start-up grapevine is not that slow, so someone knew what was going on

  • Nick

    Mike, I think Techcrunch should have at least done a summary story of BOTH events no matter the clash.

    (I was at Launch48 and did not even know about StartupWeekend).

    These are 2 important events for startups and I would expect a startup evangelist like you promote and cover both.

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