Sharing insights from Techstars: how their Minsh App became the centerpiece of their annual conference

Techstars is building a global ecosystem to help entrepreneurs and they have helped over 600 startups so far.

Seriously, when John Hill, the Network Catalyst at Techstars told me they would use Minsh for FounderCon, their annual Founder conference, my first thought was: “Oh man. This is going to be a disaster.”

OK I admit it: I cried when David Cohen - Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Techstars - posted his first shout.

Why? Simply because our app was never meant for conferences. We’ve always put the social aspect of things first; make it easy for members to share, exchange, meet.

But hey, in the end, why not? It was a great test for us to see if the app would fit. And of course, when it’s Techstars asking you to do it, you would have to be either crazy or stupid not to take that chance.

I’ll cut short through the pre-conference process. We did have to develop a couple of modifications on the app, like a “Day” view for the calendar and social sharing, but nothing major. The core of the app was, and still is, very much about networking and socializing.

Our calendar Day view specifically developed for conferences.

In the evening of October 16th, 2015, just before getting on a flight to Boulder, CO, I checked and saw we already had about 225 people in the app. A bit less than a third of the total expected attendees. Not bad.

By the time I reached Boulder and managed to access a wifi, it was October 18th, early morning, the day before the conference. The number of people on the app had jumped to 425 people. More than half the attendees. Good, very good. There were also some early shouts from people saying how excited they were to join the conference soon. Great!

Members posted shouts throughout the conference.

The next couple of days went in a haze for me.

  • On October 19th 2015, the official opening day of the conference, we reached 631 members in the app. On the second and last day of the conference, it was 660 members. That’s 92% of the total number of expected attendees.
  • During the conference, over 800 shouts were posted. More than half of those were private one-on-one discussions to arrange meetings.
  • Post-conference, the sessions gathered a total of 439 evaluations.
We gathered over 800 shouts; more than half of which were private messages.

For me, I think the best part of it all was the feedback I gathered. I talked with 2 father founders of Techstars, David Brown, David Cohen, I talked with the organizers of the conference, with the volunteers, with the speakers, the attendees.

If you know me, you know I don’t like to brag. Everybody gave me the thumbs up. The app fulfilled its purpose: it was easy to use, the schedule was easy to follow, and most importantly: people shared, exchanged and met. Which is exactly why we created the app in the first place.

Crazy for us to realize that what community managers strive to achieve with their community yearlong is not so different than what conference organizers want too, for just a few days.

To conclude, I’d like to emphasize that none of this would have been possible if the Techstars team behind the conference hadn’t put their trust in the app as much as they did. They set the pace for the community: they sent emails to the attendees to download it beforehand, they made the schedule only available on the app, they were the first to engage on it. And of course, there is the community: a big family of founders that was just thrilled to have found a tool to more easily communicate during the conference.

A big Thank You to John Hill for an amazing experience and for trusting us to deliver.