SF New Tech: More Than Just Free Tacos

This is a guest post written by Casi Contreras, who checked out this month’s SF NewTech event and reported back.

SF New Tech is one of the hottest monthly tech events in San Francisco. Founded by Myles Weissleder almost four years ago, this sold out monthly event attracts over 200+ entrepreneurs, VCs, journalists, hackers, techies, recruiters, CEOs and even the hippie next door. So, what makes SF New Tech such a successful monthly event? Attendees may point to the free tacos, but after attending several SF New Tech events, including the final event of 2009 this past Wednesday, I think I have figured it out.

Put Yourself Out There
SF New Tech is a small community event, and just like the hundreds of other small events across the country, expensive marketing campaigns are out of the question. Cassie Phillipps is a local community event holder (FailCon) and also assisted Myles with the last SF New Tech event. Cassie places a lot of value in pre-event networking, “you must reach out to friends, colleagues, and clients to get them to help spread the word, invite their own groups, and get tickets sold.”  In addition, utilizing some the Eventbrite marketing tools is an easy way to help get people excited about your event.

Networking at the Event
SF New Tech is usually held at the Mighty, a club in the heart of San Francisco’s tech community, SOMA. With Mighty’s large open space, side rooms, and two bars it is the perfect atmosphere for some major schmoozing. With nametags that include the person’s title and company, conversations are started over FREE tacos and cocktails two hours before the main event. At 7:30p.m. sharp, Myles asks everyone to take their seats and offers a side room for those who would like to continue talking. A regular at the SF New Tech events, Krystyl Baldwin, says her favorite part of the event is chatting with all the people. In this case, having a side room with an open bar is a great way to keep people at the venue without disturbing the main event.

Stick to the Plan
Attendees feel comfortable knowing that SF New Tech sticks to its format of networking and demos. Myles always kicks things off by introducing SF New Tech, how things work, the presentations and the prizes to look forward to. He also mentions hash tags to those Tweeting about the event, and gives thanks to all of the sponsors.

The presentations have a strict 5-minute rule, which is just enough time for presenters to get to the point and present the best aspects of their company or product. Each presentation is followed by an additional 5 minutes of Q&A from the audience, allowing them to participate and get excited about the presenting company.

Once all presentations are complete, my favorite part of the event begins; the 60 second spots. This is an opportunity for attendees to get in the spotlight. They come up on stage to introduce their company or product, announce they are hiring or looking to be hired, and pretty much anything else they want their engaged audience to know.

Be A Good Host
It is very important for any event to have a good host and Myles is a great example. He is present throughout the entire event, approachable, and has a great attitude even when faced with a long line of people waiting to talk to him. When asked what advice he had for other event holders, Myles simply said, “You must have persistence and patience.” He never gave up on SF New Tech, even when things may have been a bit slower at the beginning. With his persistence and patience SF New Tech has exploded into one of the most successful tech events in San Francisco.

SF New Tech was one of the first of its kind in San Francisco, and with its unique strategy it has been able to consistently grow over the past several years. Whether you have a tech event in Minneapolis, MN or a wine tasting event in Napa, CA, I believe any type of event can reach SF New Tech’s level of success by adopting and tweaking some of their practices. Just don’t forget the free tacos.