After a busy three days, LAUNCH Media's start-up conference came to a close on Wednesday with a cocktail hour and a brief awards ceremony. The festival had been an exciting, but long three days and the exhaustion in the air was almost palpable. LAUNCH 2013 was witness to several amazing start-up presentations, some demo pit drama, as well as a surprise 100k investment in a few very lucky 48-hour hackers.
Day two started with a quick attendee check-in via an NFC enabled Windows phone. The push through registration was followed by a forty-five minute delay to the morning's presentations. Like any growing tech conference, LAUNCH 2013 habitually struggled to catch up with its ever evolving agenda and timeline. The pace picked up after lunch though with a fireside chat between conference creator Jason Calacanis and Twitter founder Evan Williams. Mr. Williams talked about his passion for "helping people share knowledge and information" and pitched his new project Medium, while offering advice to the many entrepreneurs in the audience. Advertising management and analysis start-up AdStage received attention and praise from the LAUNCH judge’s panel, but the real highlight of the day was the Hackathon team WizzyWag. In a mere 48 hours, the group had hacked together an online CMS modification service website so impressive that it resulted in a surprise total of 100k in investments from several of the judges.
By the next morning, it was obvious that everyone was feeling the wear of the previous two days of the conference. One start-up had even been banned from the demo pit for using booth babes and the judge’s panel gave some harsh criticism toward the morning's start-ups. Visobike, a tech-loving carbon fiber bike developer received a reality check toward their $6000 dollar sales price to end the morning and everyone broke quickly to rush off to lunch. The second half of the day was far more festive and Jason welcomed back previous LAUNCH winner and founder of Yammer, David Sacks for a fireside chat; followed by another round of start-up presentations.
After a late cocktail hour in the main demo pit area, conference attendees were ushered back to the main stage where Jason rapidly and systematically called forth winning start-ups for a quick photograph and a twenty second speech. Recognized for their innovative business ideas were Nano Satisfi, Addicaid, CubeSensors, Synata, and KnowYo. Also called to the stage were AdStage, Triptease, Navisens, ZillaByte, Jawfish Games, and BoxBee Storage. Closing remarks were short and to the point and attendees were ushered out quickly as security stood guard to prevent loiters from returning into the Design Center after they had exited the front doors. Two and a half hours later than originally planned, LAUNCH 2013 had finally come to an end.