By Geoffrey Maingart
Marina Del Rey, CA (The Hollywood Times) 8/30/16 – The 2016 edition of the Silicon Beach Fest took place at the Marina Del Rey Hotel from August 17th through the 19th highlighting the best startups, tech companies and sources that are rapidly changing the West side of LA. Kevin Winston of Digital LA has built this amazing startup festival into one of the most important platforms for entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, influencers and brand developers and Silicon Beach is now the Silicon Valley of the South.
The festival provides LA’s tech community with the chance to meet, listen and in many cases partner up with the best and the brightest in the tech world. For three days one can hear and participate in panel discussions, workshops, keynotes, mixers with the best in the area and from around the nation and world. There is also a Startup Showcase where finalists can pitch their company to a panel of experts for a grand prize at the end of the Festival. The biggest tech companies from around the world are in attendance and participating on the panels with at least 4-6 events happening every hour.
The special difference here in LA is the relationship between the tech companies and the entertainment industry. A central topic was of course how to raise money including crowdfunding, angel investors, venture capitalists, partnerships and branding through social media. Whether one is creating apps for mobile devices, live video such as Periscope, healthcare, advertising, influencers, fintech, web design, fashion, food, virtual reality and even cannabis, there was a panel for any idea one could imagine.
How people digest the new and evolving media world is changing by every advancement in the scope of devices and the ever inclusive world of the internet. The world of gaming is always a hot topic and gaming devices are often the portal of choice. Virtual reality and augmented reality were at the forefront of the event and this is truly the wild west of the future as hardware and software creators and content providers work to design and refine the new language that is required to bring this virtual world to the consumer. The Uber app revolution is here and variations on this theme are coming out all of the time from Buddy Truck to Honk to food delivery and to Air B&B. Transportation such as Surf Air where one travels for a flat fee may change how we surf the world.
Social media is the key to success and understanding how to maximize the social media presence can make the difference between success and expensive failure. YouTube and Netflix and new players have changed the way we receive content. Even the online dating world has changed with apps like Tinder, Whisper, Snapchat and others. Live streaming opportunities have given everyone a chance to have a presence on the web. Video blogs begin to make online fans into paying fans. New platforms are leaving a trail of startups and businesses in their wake and the community is growing by leaps and bounds as a result.
For investors, it is an open field and choosing the next Google, Amazon, Ebay or YouTube is everyone’s dream. Businesses start, become successful and often get sold in the exit strategy leaving a wake of newbie millionaires and investors. We live in a new multiscreen – mobile first world. Movie and TV now are connected to the online world and depend on it. Getting your idea to go viral can make a company instantly successful. TV apps including Apple TV, Roku, Hulu, Chromecast and others are the new competition for tethered media. Cable might soon go the way of the Betamax. A great portion of the conference was dedicated to the branding process with positive suggestions from top designers about brand, trademarks, patents and copyright. For content providers there is still the great discussion about how to protect your content and monetize it. Storytelling is still a major subject and learning how to tell a compelling story in this digital age is always the challenge. Some of the best in the business were there to explain their success and in many cases their challenges to get content produced and to the public.
There were panels discussing women in tech and the LGBT community in this new world. Global brands have a lot to pick and choose from as far as advertising money goes and the competition is large but so are the opportunities. Engineers and startups are migrating here and Santa Monica, Venice, Playa Vista and little by little the rest of LA are adding to the growth of Silicon Beach and the development of properties to house this new industry. More important is availability of new money arriving, followed by investors starting to establish a presence here. Most of the money is still in Northern CA and New York but that is changing as the investors realize that you must be here or get left out.
Kevin Winston has put together quite a list of sponsors for this event and it has grown from a small endeavor 5 years ago into a major networking mecca for Digital Technology. Even this author had a chance to bring Kevin and a group of VIP attendees on my 36’ sailboat, Interlude for a late night harbor cruise. At the end of each day there was a networking reception by the pool at the Marina Del Rey hotel. Many new partnerships and certainly new companies will be founded at these get-togethers. There are too many sponsors to name, but they include a few standouts such as AT&T, Kluge, TechStyle, Icon Media Direct, UCLA and Univision.
The newly renovated Marina Del Rey Hotel is an ideal location for the event and the weather could not have been better. For more information, log on at http://siliconbeachfest.com/
The winner of the startup showcase this year was Kitterly. You can also catch up on this year’s highlights on Facebook at Silicon Beach Fest.