9 Can’t Miss Startup Events of 2016 (Outside of Silicon Valley and NYC)

In major startup hubs like Silicon Valley or New York City, there are no shortage of events and gatherings for tech entrepreneurs.  But make no mistake:  There are world class events for startup entrepreneurs everywhere — even outside of these startup meccas.

The following is a collection of can’t miss events for entrepreneurs happening in places like Cleveland, Omaha… and even Sin City.  This list is proof that there are events for startup entrepreneurs happening throughout the entire United States.  Some are focused on certain verticals — and some aren’t necessarily pure startup events.  But if you’re trying to build and/or grow a high-growth venture, nearly all of these will be relevant to you.

Consumer Electronics Show – Las Vegas, NV – January 6-9, 2016
$600 – $1400 (or $100 for an Exhibits Plus Pass)

Traditionally a conference specifically for those working with physical consumer electronics products, this event has become much more.  You’ll find the cream of the Internet of Things crop here — and software entrepreneurs have even found CES to be an incredibly important event to be at.  There are plenty of sponsor-paid parties to attend, and with the crowd of 100,000+ that piles in each year, you’ll never know which venture capitalist might be around the corner as well.

SXSW Interactive – Austin, TX – March 11-20, 2016

“South By” has become one of the hottest parties conferences to attend each year by startup entrepreneurs and investors alike.  Some of the most ubiquitous technology products used today — like Twitter and FourSquare — were actually launched at the conference.  It’s true that some have said that SXSW has become more play than work, but it’s a big draw every single year.

Collision Conference – New Orleans, LA – April 26-28, 2016
$390 – $1,390

Put together by the same folks who organize the Dublin-based Web Summit, Collision is their United States take on bringing technology startup entrepreneurs together for panels, startup demos, and more.  Paddy Cosgrave and company were notorious for getting A-list speakers to make the trek out to Dublin, and they haven’t disappointed with Collision thus far.

Big Omaha – Omaha, NE – May 4-6, 2016
$299 – $499

Formerly produced by Silicon Prairie News, Big Omaha has been known for its unique take on an entrepreneurial summit.  It’s a departure from the massively open conference hall with thousands of people crammed in hoping to catch a glimpse of somebody important.  Instead, Big Omaha has a more intimate vibe.  It’s presenters might not all be household names, but they’ve seemed to deliver each and every year — even this past year after Silicon Prairie News was acquired and questions loomed whether the conference would be the same as in the past.  .

GrowCo – Las Vegas, NV – May 17-19, 2016
$895 – $1,195

From the team at Inc. Magazine, GrowCo is fast-paced and laced with all sorts of “startup celebrities.”  Yes, you’ll likely see somebody from Shark Tank or some other TV personality.  But you’ll also find thousands of others who, like you, are trying to find that inspiration (or partnership) that might help them grow their business.

Pandoland 2016 – Chicago, IL – June 13-14, 2016
$399 – $699

Debuted in the south in 2014, Pandoland is produced by the team at Pando, including Sarah Lacy, Paul Carr, and team.  And coming from this group of provocateurs who aren’t afraid to speak their mind — the event itself has a similar tone.  Entrepreneurs and Venture Capitalists alike share their thoughts openly and freely.  The event also addresses important social issues, too, even offering women tickets at no charge last year in an effort to combat the gender imbalance that tech events have a tendency to see sometimes.

Content Marketing World – Cleveland, OH – September 6-9, 2016

Cleveland is home to Rock and Roll, Michael Symon, LeBron James, and — despite many people not knowing it — content marketing.  In fact, the host of Content Marketing World, Joe Pulizzi, practically invented the term through his Content Marketing Institute.  And now, Cleveland is the place to be each Fall where content marketing mainstays — along with other “special guests” like William Shattner, Nick Offerman, and others — gather and collaborate.

Industry – Cleveland, OH – September 15-16, 2016
$395 – $595

If you come to Cleveland for Content Marketing World, you might want to stay for Industry.  Launched originally in 2014, Industry is a place for people who build, launch, and scale world-class products.  A more intimate environment (think hundreds instead of thousands), Industry attracted product-driven professionals from 6 different countries last year.  It’s “Talk Shop” sessions allowed attendees to connect with speakers on an individual basis just minutes after they left the lights of the stage.  (And in full disclosure, I am proud to be one of the organizers)

– Detroit, MI – April 2016
– Chicago, IL – June 2016
– Kansas City, MO – September 2016
$125 – $425

Taking place in many different cities in the United States throughout the year, TechWeek is the combination of a tech meetup, startup exhibition, sponsor parties, and more.  Rather than taking place over the course of just a day or two, TechWeek is known to live up to its namesake and take over the local startup community for an entire week of events.

So there you have it — an entire year of events for entrepreneurs that don’t find themselves in the confines of San Francisco or New York.

Is there an event that’s missing on this list?  Feel free to contribute your idea in the comments below.

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