The 5th annual LAUNCH Festival March 7 & 8 in San Francisco exceeded our expectations: 42 amazing startups launched or launched new products and competed for investment money that topped $1.4M by the time we announced the winners.
We had 195 companies in the Demo Pit -- 11 of which got to present on stage -- and 1,700+ people (including top entrepreneurs and investors) attended the show over the two days. Our Office Hours stage attracted standing-room-only crowds as folks like Tony Hsieh of Zappos, David Cohen of TechStars and Dave McClure of 500 Startups answered entrepreneurs' questions.
The Grand Jury gave out 12 awards in all, naming Dropbox rival Space Monkey Best Overall in the 1.0 competition, TurboTax for financial aid Alltuition Best Overall in the 2.0 competition and Scoot Networks Best Demo Pit. Space Monkey and Alltuition snapped up $376k in investments, while Best Design 1.0 winner Minbox secured the TechStars slot plus $200k in investments.
Check out the list of winners, who got which investments, the awards ceremony, all LAUNCH Festival '12 demos (on our YouTube channel) and all official LAUNCH Festival '12 photos.
We were also honored to welcome Israeli President Shimon Peres, who delighted the crowd during a fireside chat with LAUNCH founder Jason Calacanis and Israeli investor Yossi Vardi. They discussed how entrepreneurs can use technology to help humanity, the use of the Internet during the Arab spring, terrorism in Iran and more. Jason also presented President Peres with a lifetime achievement award for his support of entrepreneurship.
George Zachary, a partner at Charles River Ventures, served as a judge and doubled his initial investment pledge to $200k during the deliberations! What he thought of the event:
"Launch 2012 was the best tech founder conference I've ever been to. Period."
David Hassel, founder of 15Five, competed in the 1.0 competition:
"I can't imagine a better way to have launched our company. Our product was so well-received, we got some great press, and we even got an investment offer from two of the judges on stage!"
More testimonials here. We can't wait till next year :-)