Learn about creating equity in tech with Rep. Barbara Lee at TechCrunch Sessions: Justice

Rep. Barbara Lee, who has represented the East Bay of California since 1998, is one of Congress’s staunchest proponents of diversity in tech. Representing Oakland, Emeryville and other cities nestled around the hills of the East Bay, she knows all too well about the benefits reaped by those in Silicon Valley, San Francisco and beyond.

We are happy to announce that Rep. Lee will be joining us for a fireside chat at TechCrunch Sessions: Justice in just a few days.

By focusing on racial injustice, among the many other issues facing her constituency, Lee has highlighted the ways in which access to tech remains out of reach for people from underserved communities. And this doesn’t just refer to the so-called ‘pipeline problem,’ which is, arguably, a myth. It is also about the lack of tech education in early grades through high school, as well as a lack of access to computers and reliable broadband, which most of us take for granted.

We will speak with Lee about the opportunities that the tech industry has to create an equal playing field in tech so that underrepresented investors, founders, designers, coders and the like can take part in everything it has to offer. We will also discuss her membership in the Congressional Black Caucus, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, as well as her role as co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus — the burgeoning cannabis industry will be a good place to start.

Head here to secure your seat to TechCrunch Sessions: Justice. In addition to Rep. Lee, you’ll hear from Backstage Capital’s Arlan Hamilton on finding the next big opportunities in tech, learn how to creatively navigate remote fundraising from top investors, examine the importance of accessible product design and learn how to battle algorithmic bias. Register now.


How top startup lawyer Dawn Belt thinks about company-building in the age of SPACs

Dawn Belt has been working with top tech companies for two decades, most recently helping commercial electric vehicle company Proterra go public as a SPAC in January.

Now she’ll be joining us at TC Early Stage in April to talk about building a company in 2021, from however you incorporate to however you decide to maybe go public one day.

As a partner at Fenwick & West, a top Silicon Valley law firm, Belt works with startups of all ages, sizes and industries (two of her past IPOs include Facebook and Bill.com). She has also written legal perspectives on a wide range of other topics that startups face, including implications of the CARES Act, board diversity legal requirements and how to manage acquired startups successfully. She also co-authored the firm’s Gender Diversity Survey, an in-depth report on women’s participation at senior levels of public tech companies.

She’ll be at Early Stage to share her experiences old and new, to help you make better decisions now for your company. The talk is part of the two days of events that explore seed and Series A fundraising, recruiting and more for early-stage startups at TC Early Stage – Operations and Fundraising on April 1 & 2. Grab your ticket now before prices increase tomorrow!


Techstars’ Neal Sáles-Griffin will join us at TechCrunch Early Stage 2021 to talk accelerators

Should you try to get your startup into an accelerator program? How do you make the right impression on the application? Where does your team need to be before you apply — and once you’re in, how do you make the most of your time in the program?

Join us at the TechCrunch Early Stage event in April, where Neal Sáles-Griffin, managing director of Techstars Chicago, will help us figure it all out.

Neal has seen this industry from just about every angle — as a teacher, advisor, investor and repeat co-founder. In 2011 he co-founded what is often referred to as the “first coding bootcamp,” with The Starter League, acquired by New York’s Fullstack Academy in 2016. In addition to leading the way at Techstars Chicago, he is also a venture partner at MATH Venture Partners, an early/middle-stage VC fund.

TC Early Stage — happening April 1 and 2 — is an event that we’ve tailored to be absolutely packed with information for early-stage founders, with key insights from the investors, founders and executives who’ve been through it all before. Day one will cover everything from fundraising, to honing your pitch deck, to finding product-market fit; day two transitions into what we’ve dubbed the TC Early Stage Pitch-Off, where 10 companies will get a shot to pitch an incredible line-up of VC judges.

Oh, and it’s all fully virtual, so you can tune in straight from the comfort of your couch. You can find more details here, or get your tickets directly below.

Join a conversation and AMA with Run The World on virtual events now and post COVID

Join TechCrunch for its first 2021 installment of the Ask Me Anything series, where TechCrunch interviews experts and answers your burning questions about virtual events.

Our first guest is Xiaoyin Qu, co-founder and CEO of Run The World

Friday, February 26, 1 p.m. PT

Register here

Run The World is a one-stop shop virtual events platform with a focus on community engagement. TechCrunch has written about Run The World in the past. It launched in 2019, with backers like Andreessen Horowitz and Founders Fund, and skyrocketed in popularity when COVID canceled in-person events and created an overwhelming desire for one-on-one connection. Run The World has since grown to 45 employees and has hosted more than 10,000 events, including for TechCrunch. 

At this AMA, Xiaoyin and TechCrunch will discuss: 

  • How COVID changed the virtual event roadmap
  • What virtual events look like when in-person events come back
  • Lessons learned from managing products at Facebook and Instagram
  • What’s next for Run The World
  • Audience Q&A 
  • 1:1 networking using Run The World

Who should attend? Event organizers, event marketers, event sponsors. 

It’s free. Register here and submit your questions for Xiaoyin. 

Registration for TC Disrupt 2021 is now open

Mark your calendar for TechCrunch’s annual celebration of the startup community — TC Disrupt 2021 returns this September 21-23! At Disrupt, you’ll rub virtual elbows with the thousands of startup founders, investors and innovators building cutting-edge products and companies. Disrupt will be all-virtual, allowing more builders from around the world to share in the learning, growth, connection and excitement that you can only experience with TechCrunch. 

As always, networking will be front and center. You’ll have the opportunity to make spontaneous connections, curated connections with CrunchMatch and chat with other attendees, all while watching sessions. Between the tools provided by our virtual event platform and curated matches, you’ll make valuable connections and expand your network.

Every year we iterate on the Disrupt experience to make sure the event includes more of what founders, investors and innovators want and need to be successful. This year, on the Disrupt Stage we’ll not only bring you the minds behind the headlines but also incorporate analysts’ viewpoints, and highlight emerging founders in Startup Alley in an engaging format geared toward helping you find solutions, build your business or expand your portfolio.

We’re also growing the Startup Battlefield cohort this year. Featuring more startups means more opportunity for founders. If you’re a founder or startup selected for Startup Battlefield, you’ll be able to pitch to a panel of renowned VCs for a chance to win $100,000 in equity-free prize money. Applications for Startup Battlefield will open Q2 2021.

Our Extra Crunch Stage will continue to be a valuable resource for entrepreneurs who are looking to tap the minds of experts and VCs across a variety of industries and categories. In highly interactive sessions, you’ll be able to get your questions answered live or have your pitch deck analyzed to help you refine your fundraising and business development strategies. Plus, all applicable passes will get a three-month membership to Extra Crunch, which gives you a library of insider analyst content that you can put into action at your company right away.

For those early-stage founders who are looking to get some extra exposure for their products and company, the Startup Alley experience is for you. The founders who are accepted into Startup Alley will get a dedicated listing at the virtual event, where they can hold live product demos, generate leads and chat with interested attendees. Founders in Startup Alley will also give a live 60-second elevator pitch to TechCrunch staff for feedback and there will be dedicated time for attendees to browse startups in each category during the Startup Alley Crawl. With a dedicated success manager in your corner providing you tips on how to use all of the items in your toolkit, this is a perfect opportunity to gain new customers, meet potential investors and expand your professional social graph.

From the Startup Alley exhibitors we will also select up to 50 founders to participate in Startup Alley+, which will give them access to a pre-Disrupt series of master classes to prep for the event, pitch-off opportunities at Extra Crunch Live and white-glove curated meetings with investors from the TechCrunch network. 

There is much more happening behind the scenes to add to your TC Disrupt 2021 experience that we will be sharing with you over the coming weeks, but we know you’ll want to secure your spot at Disrupt now. Passes are now available at the lowest Super Early-Bird rate, with additional savings available on top of that for founders, students and employees of nonprofits and government organizations. These passes are your full-access ticket to everything Disrupt has to offer and more for under $100 — but only for a limited time. Be a part of the startup world’s annual rite of passage online this September 21-23 and register today!

Block Party’s Tracy Chou will join us at TechCrunch Sessions: Justice on March 3

Tracy Chou’s resume is impressive. She interned at RocketFuel, Google and Facebook before becoming a software engineer at Quora and Pinterest. She is also a major advocate for diversity within the tech industry, launching Project Include in 2016.

Now, she’s the founder and CEO of Block Party, a platform aimed at making people feel safer on social media platforms.

Obviously, we’re absolutely thrilled to announce that we’ll be sitting down with Chou at TechCrunch Sessions: Justice in early March.

Block Party was born specifically out of Chou’s experience working at places like Quora — building a block button was one of the first things she built after being harassed on the platform. As an advocate for diversity, and a big name in the tech sphere in general, Chou has had her fair share of experience with online harassment.

Chou will join us as part of our Founders in Focus series, talking to us about the process of spinning up and launching Block party, as well as her strategies around growing the business. We’ll also talk through how Chou makes product decisions for a platform like Block Party, which tackles sensitive issues of safety and well-being.

Chou joins an outstanding cast of speakers at TC Sessions: Justice, including Arlan Hamilton, Brian Brackeen and a panel that includes the likes of Netflix’s Wade Davis and Uber’s Bo Young Lee.

The event goes down on March 3, and will explore diversity, equity and inclusion in tech, the gig worker experience, the justice system and more in a series of interviews with key figures in the technology community.

You don’t want to miss it. Get a ticket here.

Early-bird pricing increases next week for TC Early Stage Operations & Fundraising

Just because there are no shortcuts to startup success doesn’t mean you have to reinvent the wheel. At TechCrunch Early Stage 2021, a virtual bootcamp experience in two distinct parts, you’ll learn from leading experts across the startup spectrum — including prominent founders ready to share their personal experiences and hard-won advice to help you avoid costly missteps.

Early-bird pricing for passes to TC Early Stage part one (April 1-2) — or dual-event passes (TC Early Stage part 2 takes place July 8-9) — remains in effect for just one more week. Be a savvy shopper — save up to $250 — beat the deadline and buy your TC Early Stage passes by February 27 at 11:59 p.m. (PT).

While both TC Early Stage bootcamps focus on startups in the very early innings, each event will feature different topics, content and experts. You’ll learn or strengthen the core entrepreneurial skillsets every startup founder needs to master — legal issues, fundraising, marketing, growth, product-market fit, tech stack, recruiting, pitch deck teardowns and more.

What’s more, you’ll learn from the best of the best. Here are just two of the featured speakers ready to download serious knowledge in April. We’ll be adding even more (and posting the agenda) in the weeks to come:

  • Melissa L. Bradley: Co-founder of venture backed Ureeka (a community where small businesses gain unprecedented access to the expertise needed to grow their business), Melissa is also founder and managing partner of 1863 Ventures. A professor at Georgetown University, she teaches impact investing, social entrepreneurship, P2P economies and innovation.
  • Neal Sáles-Griffin: Managing girector of Techstars Chicago and a venture partner for MATH, Neal is an entrepreneur, investor and teacher. In 2011, he co-founded the first beginner-focused, in-person coding bootcamp. He is active in nonprofit and civic engagement across Chicago and in 2018 he ran for mayor. Neal has an undergraduate degree from Northwestern University, where he is an Adjunct Professor teaching entrepreneurship.

We love highlighting the best startups, and we’re devoting day two to that noble cause in the form of an TC Early Stage Pitch-Off! We’re looking for 10 founders who will pitch live onstage for five minutes followed by a five-minute Q&A with a panel of prominent VC judges. The top three founders pitch yet again to a new set of judges — and engage in a more intensive Q&A. Talk about awesome exposure!

Get the essential Pitch-off 411 here (like who qualifies and what the winner receives). Whatever you do, apply here before the deadline: February 21 at 11:59 p.m.

Don’t grind your gears reinventing the wheel. Join us at TC Early Stage 2021 on April 1-2. You have just one week left to score the best possible price. Buy your early-bird pass before the deal ends on February 27 at 11:59 p.m. (PT).

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at TC Early Stage 2021 — Operations & Fundraising? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

Marlon Nichols will discuss how to secure seed funding at TechCrunch Early Stage 2021

We’re excited to announce another terrific panel for our stacked TechCrunch Early Stage event on April 1 & 2. Marlon Nichols will be joining us to discuss securing seed funding.

Nichols is intimately acquainted with the topic — as a founding managing partner of MaC Venture Capital (nee Cross Culture Ventures), he has been involved in helping more than 100 early-stage startups receive seed funding. Previously, Nichols served as a Kauffman Fellow and Investment Director at Intel Capital, focusing on media and entertainment.

He has had a hand in a number of high-profile investments, including Gimlet Media, MongoDB, Thrive Market, PlayVS, Fair, LISNR, Mayvenn, Blavity and Wonderschool. His accolades include the MVMT50 SXSW 2018 Innovator of the Year and Digital Diversity’s Innovation & Inclusion Change Agent awards.

He will be discussing ways to get on investors’ radar and how to raise that early round. Per the panel description:

Right now, there is more seed-stage fundraising than ever before, and Marlon will speak on how to get noticed by investors, how to grow your business and how to survive in the crowded, competitive space of tech startups. He will provide insights on how to network, craft a great pitch and target the best investors for your success.

The panel is part of the two days of events that explore seed and Series A fundraising, recruiting and more for early-stage startups at TC Early Stage – Operations and Fundraising on April 1 & 2. Grab your ticket now before prices increase next week!

Join Fuel Capital’s Leah Solivan at TC Early Stage and hear how to avoid early founder mistakes

When you’re just starting out building your company, there’s obviously a lot that can go wrong. Especially if you’re a first-time founder (but even if you’re an experienced serial entrepreneur), it can be hard to spot the potential pitfalls that might lead you astray before you even really get rolling. That’s why we’re thrilled to have Fuel Capital General Partner Leah Solivan joining us at TechCrunch Early Stage – Operations and Fundraising on April 1 & 2 for a discussion about how to avoid making some of the biggest mistakes early in your founding journey.

Solivan brings her keen insight as an early-stage investor who has invested in and helped many early-stage companies spanning consumer tech, marketplaces, hardware and retail — but also her eight years of experience leading TaskRabbit, the startup she founded and led to a successful exit when it was acquired by IKEA in 2017. Between her time as an operator building a successful business and raising more than $50 million in venture funding, and her nearly four years investing and helping other founders build companies with Fuel, Solivan has unparalleled perspective on how to avoid common company-building problems early on.

Fuel CapitalGeneral Partner Leah Solivan. Image Credits: Meg Messina

At TC Early Stage this year, our two-day virtual event focused on entrepreneurs turning their startup dreams into reality, we’re focusing on both operations and fundraising, with a variety of top speakers ranging from investors, to accelerator managers, to subject-matter experts in key roles that startups need to invest in early on. The fully virtual event will include not only virtual panel discussions and interviews like our chat with Solivan, but also plenty of networking and opportunities for audience participation with our world-class speakers and guests.

We’re talking startup sales with Zoom CRO Ryan Azus at TechCrunch Early Stage

TechCrunch is excited to announce that Zoom chief revenue officer (CRO) Ryan Azus is joining us at TechCrunch Early Stage on April 1.

Azus has worked at Cisco, RingCentral and most recently Zoom. In his previous roles he held a number of sales titles, including his final role at RingCentral where he was its executive vice president of global sales and services.

Zoom needs little introduction, having crossed over from enterprise software success story to consumer phenomenon during the COVID-19 pandemic, during which time companies, groups, individuals and families leaned on the video chat provider to stay in touch.

Azus has been at the helm of Zoom’s money engine since mid-2019, which means that he has sat atop it during one of the most impressive periods of sales growth at any software company — ever.

So we’re glad that he’ll be at TC Early Stage this year, where we’ll pepper him with questions. Bring your own, of course, as we’ll be reserving around half our time for audience Q&A.

But the TechCrunch crew has a plethora of things we want to chat about too, including the importance of bottom-up sales during the pandemic, especially in contrast to the more traditional sales bullpen model that many startups have historically used; how to balance self-service sales and human-powered sales at a tech company that presents both options to customers, and their relative strength in 2021; changes to sales incentive metrics at Zoom over time from which startups might be able to learn; and how to maintain order and culture in a quickly scaling, remote sales organization.

We’re also curious how Zoom managed to adapt to the pandemic itself, like how long it took the company to reach full-strength from a sales perspective as it moved to remote work and customers that were also out of the office. The simple answer is that his company simply used more of its own product, but there’s more to the story that we want to hear.

Often at TechCrunch events we round up a cadre of executives from well-known technology companies and then hammer them for news. Early Stage is a bit different, focusing instead on extracting knowledge, tips and what-pitfalls-to-avoid from tech folks interested in helping startups do more, more quickly.

Azus won’t be coming alone. Bucky Moore from Kleiner will be in the house, along with Neal Sales-Griffin (a managing director at Techstars) and Eghosa Omoigui (a managing general partner at EchoVC Partners). The list goes on, as you can see here. (We’re also having a big pitch-off, so make sure to come to both days of the event.)

TC Early Stage continues TechCrunch’s recent spate of virtual events, so no matter where you are, you can tune in and learn. Register today to take advantage of early bird pricing, don’t forget to bring your best questions, and we’ll see you in early April!