By Matt Wilson
Introducing the Top 50 Events for Young Entrepreneurs…
1). CEO National–Imagine what happens when over 1,000 college entrepreneurs get together in one giant convention center for a weekend full of keynotes, workshops and lots of “networking”. The Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization holds a soft spot in our heart as Under30CEO was launched in Chicago at this very conference, where we keynoted and threw quite the after party.
2.) SXSW–If you can only get to one conference each year or are launching a startup, you may want to consider SXSW. Austin hosts one the most serious interactive, film and music festivals in the world, but it’s getting a little oversold these days. Be sure to find a place to stay months in advance to guarantee a place to stay.
3.) Big Omaha–This is what SXSW was before the hype. Silicon Prairie is a great location for a conference because unlike swanky events in Miami or LA, people actually come for the conference. Last year we completed the experience by sleeping in an RV in Iowa.
4.) Startup Weekend–Want to launch a company in 54 hours? Find a Startup Weekend in your region of the globe, pitch your idea and build a team around it. Go from idea to a hacked together business in a single weekend. “No Talk. All Action.”
5.) Summit Series–While most of the events on this list will be open to the public, this event is invite only. Are you scheming to change the world? Then this is the place for you. Richard Branson and NFL Linebacker/Bow-tie entrepreneur Dhani Jones were some of the last in attendance to this laid back environment of people who are truly making it happen.
6.) BarCamp–This is what conferences are supposed to be about: getting together with people who are passionate about what they do. BarCamp is what started the “unconference” craze because of their laid back, agenda-free style, where people just show up to talk about what they want to rally people around. BarCamps have been hosted around the globe.
7.) Techcrunch Disrupt–If you are a tech startup and you want to launch big, this is where you want to do it. Enter into the demo competition and be ready to answer the tough questions. The networking is top notch if you are looking to meet investors, but you’ll pay the price to get in.
8.) Ignite–Check your local city for Ignite events and be ready for a high energy event. Speakers make 5 minute presentations using 20 slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds, sharing what they know.
9.) New York Tech Meetup–We love NYTM simply because no other 800 person event can ever have such an intimate feel. This demo style event, complete with mezzanine seating at NYU sells out quick. Come for excellent technology and New York tech pride–Dennis Crowley and Michael Bloomberg do.
10.) Under30CEOnyc–Yes, we had to. But if you don’t believe in your product, you might as well not be in business. We keep our speakers short and sweet, and draw a great crowd for networking all young at heart. Our last meetup featured Alexis Ohanian Co-founder of Reddit who rocked the house.
11.) Launch–This competition not only encourages attendees to couch surf there way to Silcon Valley, but gives opportunities for companies to pitch who have never had any press or are still in private beta. This demo event are where storybook starts take place. Imagine: hacking together your product on the plane, sleeping on floors and going home with funding.
12.) PivotCon–Want to understand where marketing and the social consumer are heading? This is your event. It’s not only startups and Fortune 500s that are pivoting; it’s the entire world.
13.) Web2Expo–Held on both coasts, Web2Expo is known for its killer keynotes. Get the expo hall pass for only $50 and skip the high priced breakout sessions. Watch out for the booth crawl… it’ll get the best of you.
14.) Entrepreneur Week–Our friend Gary Whitehill started Entrepreneur Week in New York and is now bringing it throughout the country. Check out EW to gain access to people you normally wouldn’t be able to have contact with.
15.) Global Entrepreneurship Week–This celebration of entrepreneurship week happens festival style throughout the world. Anyone can organize an event in their city and and register it with the Kauffman Foundation. Check out the listings and see whats going on this November in your region.
16.) Social Media Week–SMWeek happens in select cities across the globe who simultaneously celebrate social media. These gatherings of new media people bring together the thought leaders in the industry in cosmopolitan cities like DC, Hong Kong and Sao Paulo.
17.) Internet Week–Another festival style event, IW draws major sponsors like Yahoo! and Ford. IWNY’s highlight was the “Walkabout Tour”, where all of the city’s startups opened their doors for an afternoon walking tour.
18.) Affiliate Summit–Want to learn the tips and tricks of internet marketing? This bi-coastal conference is filled with people making millions online while drinking pina coladas under palm trees. Enough said.
19.) Tech Cocktails–Since 2006 this event has been a simple community building effort to bring together people in tech in locations across the country. Now, Tech Cocktails has morphed into a full fledged media company run by former head of product at AOL.
20.) Tony Robbins–While Tony my take a lot of flack for having a cult-like following of people who have been transformed by his events, Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela and Andre Agassi all can’t be wrong. Tony’s 6’7” stage presence truly does rock the house.
21). LeWeb–We’re not quite sure how this French conference became so wildly popular, but it draws the best technology entrepreneurs all the way to Paris. The conference’s organizer Loic Lemeur is founder of Seesmic and has become a rockstar in part due to his involvement with LeWeb.
22.) TEDx–While TED is known for their earth-shattering keynotes by world leaders, the $10k price tag and exclusivity of the event will probably keep you away. Luckily for the rest of us, TEDx events are hosted by local organizers to bring people together to talk about “Ideas Worth Spreading”.
23.) Lean Startup Machine–Surrounding the launch of Eric Ries’ Lean Startup book launch our friend Trevor Owens is perpetuating the movement to find out what your customers really care about. Join the metrics driven startup competition in London, Lahore, New York and DC.
24.) BlogWorld Expo–BWE is also held on both coasts and often corresponds with the timing of Techcrunch Disrupt. It has a big convention center feel, and we think that info on social media and blogging is available most anywhere these days, but if you want to speak at an event this is the place to be.
25.) Startup Riot–As bootstrapped entrepreneur events should be, this event brands itself as “affordable, curated events for the startup community.” Held across the country, what we like best is that they claim their event “will make you hate all job fairs.”
26.) INC’s GrowCo–The Grow Your Business Conference is the place for advice and strategies to help your business get to the next level. This three day conference has featured speakers such as the CEO of 1-800 Flowers and businessman George Foreman. If the top magazine on growing your business hosts an event designed to help you do the same, we’re in.
27.) Small Business Technology Tour–Ramon Ray of Small Biz Technology produces a five city tour to educate small and medium sized companies how to utilize technology as a tool for their business.
28.) America Small Business Summit–Put on by the US Chamber of Commerce, the most valuable part of this event is 2012 DREAM BIG Small Business of the Year Award, sponsored by Sam’s Club.
29.) Buy Young Campaign–This invite only event was designed to be a discussion between America’s top young entrepreneurs and our nation’s political leaders. These business owners discussed the success and challenges of creating tens of thousands of jobs at the Capitol Building, White House and US Chamber of Commerce. This event is hosted by an organization dedicating themselves to the advancement of opportunities for young people, Our Time.
30.) Nexus Global Youth Summit–This exclusive event at the United Nations is about recognizing the advancement of youth. The world’s top young leaders in philanthropy address the depth of problems young people are facing in their corners of the globe. The lengthy application process is well worth the opportunity to be addressed by the Secretary General of the UN.
31.) FundingPost.com–In the last 10 years, 11,000 CEOs and 750 Venture Capital firms have met in over 20 cities nationwide through FundingPost. Their online and offline community has represented $107billion in investment. These events are both educational with their pitch coaching and opportunistic with their networking opportunities.
32.) FOWA–While the Future of Web Apps may sound a bit geekier than some of the other conferences on this list, FOWA brings top notch tech speakers for a highly anticipated event. Tech gurus like Kevin Rose, Gary Vaynerchuk and Jason Calacanis have all been slated to speak.
33.) Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year–For 25 years Ernst and Young has been naming deserving businesses owners the coveted “Entrepreneur of the Year” title. In over 130 different cities, you can nominate and attend Ernst and Young’s celebration of one of the most prestigious business awards.
34.) Brite–This conference is designed to teach attendees how technology and innovation are transforming the ways that companies build and sustain great brands. Hosted by Columbia Business School, this conference stresses the importance of thinkers and doers in a changing landscape.
35.) SobCon–This is the think tank of the social web where people come to talk about building successful online businesses. What started as Successful Online Bloggers has now morphed into a full fledged business conference.
36.) BlogHer–With over 27million women bloggers, this network was designed to give opportunity for exposure to females who write informative content. In case you are curious, 10-15% of attendees happen to be men.
37.) Seth Godin Meetup–In true Seth fashion, this top business blogger has given his tribe the tools to organize and make something happen. Using the Meetup Everywhere platform, anyone can organize a gathering of Seth fans. It’s a great opportunity to meet other marketing enthusiasts.
38.) AVC–Following in Seth’s footsteps, legendary Union Square Venture partner Fred Wilson allows his blog readers to organize as well. This investor is known for recognizing trends early, as he jumped on Twitter and Xanga in the early days. If those predictions mean anything, then Meetups Everywhere will be huge.
39.) Brian Tracy–One of the world’s foremost sales, leadership and achievement gurus, Brian Tracy’s seminars are said to be top notch. These are the type of events that give you actionable steps to improve your business.
40.) Ad:tech–this global digital marketing conference hosts events around the globe at the world’s biggest convention centers. Topics include media buying, search, email marketing, mobile, web analytics, affiliate marketing and blogging.
41.) WOMMA–The World of Mouth Marketing Association is an organization dedicated to the ethical and effective ways to generate buzz. One recent summit even featured a discussion on how social media had a leading role to save the NFL season.
42.) SheCon–Always a fan of supporting women entrepreneurs and their unique set of opportunities and challenges, Under30CEO highly recommends this Miami summit. Even Guy Kawasaki joins the party to share with the audience how they can use new media to build their brands.
43.) DCM–With so many conferences on this list focused on using new media, the Digital Content Monetization conference is all about creating cashflow from it. Speakers include executives from MTV, Thrillist, Samsung and Forbes.
44.) CEO Space–While the CEO Space website looks like it could have been updated a decade ago, the organization who holds 5 retreats every year focuses on CEO to CEO mentorship. It’s a serious organization, who would benefit from some youth breathing new life into the scene.
45.) GCEC–Want to learn how to build an amazing entrepreneurship program at your college or university? The Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers it the place to be. Over 200 schools come together at the University of Southern California to share best practices in entrepreneurship education.
46.) Inbound Marketing Summit–The brainchild of blogger Chris Brogan, this bi-coastal conference shows you how to have customers flocking to your business. Sponsored by Hubspot, IMS is a two day conference, but many of the videos are available online if you’d like a sneak preview.
47.) CES–The Consumer Electronics Show is where the biggest, most innovative companies in the world like Sony and Microsoft come to show off their latest releases. The conference is massive, covering over 5 football fields and thousands upon thousands of members of the press come to break the news from Las Vegas.
48.) IBF–Looking for a niche conference to attend in your sector of technology? The International Business Forum hosts major summits around clean-tech, health and wellness, med-tech and digital healthcare.
49.) TiE–This conference has an international flavor and is dedicated to fostering entrepreneurship globally. TiE even boasts a retreat to Bali to connect with passionate entrepreneurs, and receive mentorship from successful business owners worldwide.
50.) 140 Character Conference–At first glance, a conference all about Twitter might seem a bit much, but the 140 conference is a traveling roadshow all about how commerce and community are changing. Hosted by Jeff Pulver, the speakers are high energy and have limited time to get their point across. They are brought in to talk about a broad range of topics from fashion to education.
Matt Wilson is Co-founder of Under30CEO.com and is looking to help every young entrepreneur on the planet. Follow him on Twitter @MattWilsontv.