Startup Grind Global Conference Case Study

I knew that my biggest priority was that speakers would have a really seamless experience that it would look really good and other people that I was working with I meshed well with.

Grace Lancaster

Grace Lancaster

Event Lead, Community Manager, Startup Grind

Key Results

10k+

attendees registered

150+

countries represented

1000+

trees planted with Forest Nation

The Challenge

Can Happily bring the production value?

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Startup Grind is the world's largest community of entrepreneurs. It is an extensive global community across 600 chapters focused on education, resources, mentorship and general connectedness with other people in the startup space.

They facilitate a full calendar of panel discussions, workshops, parties, fireside chats, summits and pitch battles throughout the year, with annual conferences and partner events produced by the Startup Grind HQ team. The Global Conference for Startup Grind is a massive annual tentpole event, and this was the first time it went fully virtual. It spanned over 3 days, with 7 key themes, 2 main stages and 16 headline speakers. Over 10,000 attendees, across 150 countries, with multiple timezones - plus approx. 80% of the event was completely live!

Startup Grind teamed up with Happily to ensure high production value within a virtual space, giving us charge of the broadcast for the two main stages. A priority for the Startup Grind team was the keynote speaker experience, and that all live talent on the main stages would be given the technical support, flow, and ease they needed to shine. On top of that, Happily was responsible for content and content distribution. Bevy, which is a sister company of Startup Grind, was brought into the mix to take on the wider technical structure of the event, as well as the platforms for attendee networking and partner interaction.

The Bevy / CMX team had just hosted a conference as well, and so we kind of worked with them and they suggested Happily… because it was clear that my team wouldn't be able to do the production value that we were hoping for.

Grace Lancaster

Grace Lancaster

Event Lead, Community Manager, Startup Grind

The Solution

A seamless backstage experience

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In the pre-production stage team Happily and Startup Grind HQ worked closely together and were in constant communication, with weekly meetings turning into daily catchups as the event got closer. The schedual for the show was dawn up, every detail was discussed and each second was rehearsed across the teams. We connected with as many speakers as possible prior to the event to provide a ‘tech check’, to ensure that their home set-up was suitable, and to familiarise them with the proceedings and the final outcome. This understanding of the event gave them the opportunity to alter their presentation accordingly, and eased any confusion about what was expected of them, allowing speakers to feel prepared on the day. On the visual content side, we provided background templates and ‘up next’ slides for the Startup Grind’s creative team to customize and design as according to their brand identity, ensuring visual consistency across the stages.

As the speaker experience was Happily’s priority, we created an airtight workflow for them on the day of the event, within a system that they would have already been familiar with. Depending on which of the two main stages they were scheduled to appear on, each speaker was sent a calendar invite with a Zoom link that would funnel them into the correct backstage area / green room.

Having two main stages meant that the backstage environment was duplicated, with an Executive Producer and Technical Director overseeing everything. Each stage had its own Streaming Engineer looking after the technical side of the broadcast, as well as a Producer who was calling the show. In each green room, speakers were greeted and guided by a Backstage Lead, and also included was a Breakout Assistant to help chase up any speakers who may have been running a little late. When it was a speakers turn they would be moved by the Streaming Engineer onto the ‘main stage’. Each stage had a Timekeeper - a role often referred to simply as a Clock - providing visual cues to the speaker on their screen, including when they are live or how much time they had left.

One way that we could stand out from other conferences is having all of our content be live, and that I think just that in itself makes people feel connected because they're doing something together in real time, as opposed to going to YouTube and watching a YouTube video, and so that was really important to me to have it be live.

Grace Lancaster

Grace Lancaster

Event Lead, Community Manager, Startup Grind

The Results

More accessibility and more grind than ever before

Overall, everything went amazingly! The atmosphere of the whole event was brimming with inspiration and encouragement to continue that grind for another year.

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All the speakers were fantastic and many commented on a well curated and seamless backstage experience.

So much amazing stuff happened!

  • 16 headliner speakers
  • 22 keynote sessions
  • 25 fireside chat sessions
  • More than 10,000 registered attendees
  • Over 150 countries were represented
  • The diversity of attendees were 59.4% male, 37.3% female and 3.3% other
  • 50 industries were represented, with the top 3 being IT, consulting and education
  • Approx. 1000 trees planted in the Happily Forest as part of our carbon offset program with Forest Nation

I personally love to work with female founded companies, and the whole sustainability agreement that Happily has and I like that, being a part of that and so it was pretty easy choice for me and just based on those factors.

Grace Lancaster

Grace Lancaster

Event Lead, Community Manager, Startup Grind