At this point, my wife, my business partner and my team all know I'm busy planning which conferences I'll attend in 2019. It's not that they don't want me to go. It's just that it's probably my favorite part of the new year, and I might be a little tiring to listen to. In my defense, however, entrepreneur conferences are one of the best ways to keep up with the latest trends, learn new skills, become an industry thought leader and curate a great network.
Because I've already done much of the legwork, I want to help streamline my fellow entrepreneurs' planning by sharing the 10 entrepreneur-focused conferences you should check out.
Considered the largest gathering in the world for B2B software, SaaStr is a three-day event packed with more than 300 handcrafted sessions from the best in SaaS to help you scale. There will also be more than 500 one-on-one and small group meetings with mentors and VCs, plus more than 300 speakers from organizations like Dropbox, HubSpot, Slack, Stripe and Sequoia Capital.
"SaaStr Nights" will also give you, and the other 12,500 guests, a chance to unwind and network as you hop from music venues to art exhibits.
Taking place in the heart of Silicon Valley -- Redwood City, to be exact -- Startup Grind will have six stages' worth of educational content focused on tracks like growth, developer stage, leadership, marketing, blockchain, AI and venture capital funding.
Each day will also include pitch sessions so entrepreneurs can present their ideas to a VC panel. And, of course, there will be hours and hours of meaningful networking opportunities with fellow entrepreneurs, investors and partners.
Continuing the 10-year legacy of the Montgomery Technology Conference, the Montgomery Summit gathers leading entrepreneurs, investors and executives to discuss crucial trends in entrepreneurship and technology.
Jamie Montgomery puts on this invitation-only event that includes more than 150 vetted company presentations, world-class keynotes, facilitated one-on-one meetings, insider panels and unique programs like "The Rise of the Female Entrepreneur." It will also include more than 1,000 attendees networking over gourmet food.
Heading into its third year, the Human Gathering is an immersive three-day experience in which an exclusive community of talented minds in business, technology, philanthropy and the arts come together to engage and learn from one another, with the goal of leaving a mark on the world.
What's interesting about this experience is that attendance has been reduced year after year. In 2017, 200 people applied or were nominated; last year, it was cut to 150. In 2019, that figure sits at 125. The reason? They're determined to find the ideal number of people to attend so the event will inspire the greatest amount of serendipity and deep connections.
Built "by young entrepreneurs for young entrepreneurs," Next Gen Summit has become the No. 1 hub, community and conference for tomorrow's leaders. Here, the 20,000 entrepreneurs joining this global movement can network, receive one-on-one coaching from executives, pitch their startup and learn from some of the most successful founders and investors in the world.
When they're not discussing and debating topics like emerging tech and branding, attendees can partake in activities like laser tag and themed dinners.
Nerve is facilitated by Entrepreneurs' Organization, a global nonprofit network of entrepreneurs looking for peer-to-peer networking. It's the East Region's annual multi-day learning event, where members can learn and grow as business leaders. They'll expand their knowledge base through keynotes from speakers like former Ford CEO Alan Mulally, as well as customized learning programs and networking over local craft beers and cuisine.
And, considering that it takes place in the historic and charming city of Charleston, this will be an unforgettable event for entrepreneurs of all stages.
The exact dates and location haven't been announced yet, but last year's ONTRAPALOOZA took place in October in Santa Barbara, Calif. The event is hosted by ONTRAPORT, a CRM and marketing automation software company I have worked with in the past and am a pretty big fan of. You can expect this to be a three-day event where entrepreneurs, executives and marketers can take part in hands-on workshops and software sessions. There will also be energizing keynotes, support from certified consultants and nightly networking events.
While the date and location have yet to be announced, 2018's Inc. 5000 gala was held in San Antonio in October. The Inc. 5000 is known for gathering some of the most intriguing speakers on the conference circuit. Last year's lineup included Bert Jacobs from Life is Good, MailChimp's Ben Chestnut, University of Houston researcher Brené Brown, comedian Joel McHale, and basketball player Pau Gasol. The conference also does an excellent job of mixing learning and networking, with activities ranging from morning workouts to a black-tie gala.
This is one of my favorite conferences to attend, and I'm not just saying that because my former company was on the Inc. 5000 three years in a row.
Since 2013, Baby Bathwater has been mixing business with pleasure. In all honesty, that should be expected when you're on a private island in Croatia.
During the five-day excursion, you can join 90-minute sessions from proven advisors and industry leaders focused on allocating your marketing budget, building a successful team and writing high-converting content. Rather than speak, they're here to teach. It's also a "no-pitch" zone, where you can build long-lasting relationships over local cuisine, paddleboarding or dancing.
Web Summit is now the largest gathering of entrepreneurs. It also attracts tech giants, business leaders and policymakers from across the world who want to disrupt the tech industry and bring people and industries together. Last year, for example, Web Summit welcomed founders and C-suite execs from Apple, Medium, Samsung, Microsoft, Twitch, IBM and Slack.
The four-day event, hosted annually in Lisbon's Altice Arena and FIL, has around 70,000 attendees visiting the beautiful Portuguese capital. Web Summit combines 24 content tracks focused on areas like the intersection of tech and society across industries, mobility, finance, health, sports, fashion, music, marketing, advertising and entertainment.
Whether you're looking to learn, grow or meet new clients, partners or customers, these conferences have something worthwhile for entrepreneurs -- regardless of the stage you're currently in.
If there's a noteworthy conference I left out, please let me know! I'm always game for attending inspiring new conferences.