I spent a great day today at the Under the Radar Conference on Office 2.0.
These events are organized to provide a bit of exposure, networking, and critical guidance to start-ups at a very early stage. Typically the companies presenting had angel funding or less, and a beta, (or less) to match.
The format of the conference is excellent. Each company gets 7 minutes to make their pitch and then the audience, (and panel members) ask questions for about the same amount of time. It works well – just about the time you are getting bored with a company, they parade out a new victim. This appraoch really let’s you see a variety of companies all attacking a similar space from different angles. It also makes it very clear who is onto something, and who is smoking something.
A couple of other quick notes. The facility (Microsoft Mountain View Conference Center) was beautiful. That campus is everything I like – clean with wifi access. The food was also excellent and the panel members (for the most part) were solid. Even the moderators kept things moving well.
The only downside to the event was that you were forced to pick between two tracks that ran simultaneously. There were definitely some companies I wanted to see that I missed, but I can always catch them in the public beta (which is coming up anyday).
I’ll be posting my thoughts on the companies I saw in the coming week, but if you have the chance, Under the Radar is definitely worth a look.