Last night we held our second FOUND Conference event. As a small startup (under 10 people) putting on an event, even a small one, is no easy feat. In addition to supporting customers and continuing product development, we all have to take on the role of event coordinator, even for a few hours. Stepping out of our comfort zones of engineers, analysts, and product managers, we’re thrown into being event emcees, moderators and even doormen. It’s worth it.
So, why do we buy booze and food for a small contingency of people on a Tuesday night at 500 Startups in Mountain View instead of just attending a large conference and meeting up with people there? Well, here are a few reasons why we like FOUND and other small conferences:

We can reach beyond the typical speakers

By opening up the conference to passionate people who many not usually present, we get a lot of raw, honest content from perspectives that aren’t always shared in large groups. For instance, we had the pleasure of listening to Hotel Tonight’s Data Scientist, Colin Zima, who is also worked on the search quality team at Google – a perfect person to talk to at an event about SEO and content!

Increased audience participation during and after the event

When the room is small and the event is casual, attendees and panelists get to have real discussions about industry specifics. Startups, agencies and enterprise businesses all have different needs, which can be addressed over the course of a four hour event with a small group of knowledgeable people.

Speakers get to create unique content

Instead of being beholden to strict conference guidelines, we let our speakers talk about whatever they felt passionate about, as long as it tied back to search, content or brand findability. This got us presentations about using visual contentmobile search trends, and creating repeatable SEO process for startups.

The follow up rate is higher

Most of our speakers are active on social media and many of the audience members were tweeting questions and thoughts during the event. Introductions, follows on social accounts and email exchanges were in full swing before the event ever ended.
At the end of the day, we’ll probably never stop going to big conferences, but we’ll definitely be dedicating more time to events like FOUND where we can get to know great speakers, attendees and users around the world in a collaborative setting.
Want FOUND to come to your city? Let us know!