Edith Yeung has a knack for bringing smart people together.
For evidence of that, one needed to look no further than the fourth floor auditorium of the Metreon in San Francisco last weekend. It was there that Yeung and her team hosted a series of speakers, panels and product demos for a floor full of attendees, each of whom found the line-up tempting enough to coax them out of bed early on a Saturday.
The one-day event for entrepreneurs and tech enthusiasts boasted an impressive roster, including representatives from companies like Google, Yahoo, Foursquare, Yelp, Square, Intuit, Mashable, and quite a few others. As was the case at BizTechDay in New York last month, the day was peppered with five-minute product demos aimed at small business owners and other entrepreneurs.
While the speakers, panels and demos were front-and-center, an underlying core component of BizTechDay is to serve as a forum for people to meet each other and network. A few days before the conference, Yeung sent out emails to every attendee, assigning them a "buddy" to meet at the conference. Facilitating these kinds of connections is something Yeung is clearly passionate about.
"BizTechDay is really a conference about people," said Yeung. "If every single one of us walks away from BizTechDay 2010 with at least one meaningful business connection, a relationship that will truly help and change your business for the life time, we will have done our job."
Session Highlights: Biz Dev, Media Relations & Social Media
The day opened with a session titled "Meet the Titans: How to work with big boys" which featured Yahoo's Bob Upham, Google Business Development Manager Robert Meese and Jan Bosch, Intuit's VP of Process Engineering, who offered startups advice on dealing with larger companies. The panel recommended against being too aggressive or name-dropping when trying to pitch bigger companies. In general, said Meese, the more the bigger company's road map lines up with the smaller company's, the more quickly things will move along.
Former CBS-5 news reporter Sue Kwon moderated a panel of journalists and bloggers on media relations and whether entrepreneurs should still focus on getting attention from traditional media outlets. The panel, which consisted of Entreprenuer magazine columnist Mikal Belicove, Mashable Editor Ben Parr, TechCrunch writer Gagan Biyan and CBS Moneywatch reporter Jason Brooks, seemed to agree that the division between "old" and "new" media is overemphasized.
As one might expect, social media was a topic that came up regularly throughout the course of the day. Mashable's Ben Parr gave a lively presentation that attempted to cut through some of the buzz that tends to hover around social media, urging entrepreneurs to achieve something great first, then look to the social Web to help spread the word.
Clara Shih, author of The Facebook Era doled out tips for marketing via Facebook, and Startup Digest founder Chris McCann offered his advice for building an email marketing empire such as the one he oversees.
In the afternoon, Foursquare's Director of Business Development Tristan Walker spoke about how businesses can take advantage of location-based social networking, followed by Yelp Business Outreach Manager Luther Lowe, who offered tips to small businesses on how to make the most of Yelp. In short, said Lowe, businesses should not ask people to review them on Yelp or "freak out" when they get negative reviews, and he recommended that they utilize the tools Yelp has made available for business owners.
Some Useful Web Tools For Small Businesses
A total of 16 different products were demoed throughout the day. Some of the most notable were mobile payment app Square, drag-and-drop Website builder Weebly, marketing automation app Infusionsoft and social media tools Needium, Fliptop and Wildfire.
With this year's BizTechDay series behind them, Yeung and her team are already brainstorming possibilities for 2011, including different formats and locations. Those interested in checking out the event can keep an eye on BizTechDay.com.