Launch Parties: A Tale of Two San Francisco Startups

San-Francisco-Startup-Launch-Party-1San Francisco Startup Launch Parties

With all the San Francisco startup technology excitement and social media marketing here there’s a lot going on and a lot to do.  Virtually every day there’s some sort of launch party for a new, up-and-coming company or cause.  Last week I visited two San Francisco startup launch parties that were vastly different in approach and effectiveness.

is an iOS-specific platform billing itself as the “first personalized magazine app,” pulling its content based on the things you follow, forward, or tweet about.  The more you use Zite, the better the app’s idea of what you want to read.  Unique to it, too, is a stylish, eMagazine-like interface a lot like the way Zinio does it for hardcopy magazines.

The Zite open house San Francisco startup launch party consisted of a barren room, presumably to exemplify the “raw, behind the scenes” look into the life of a start-up.  The lunchtime hour brought in a myriad of sharply dressed working professionals.  The event was catered with a voluminous selection of gourmet sandwiches, a refrigerator full of soft-drinks, and a freshly tapped keg of premium ale.

What was lacking was even a modicum of self-promotion at the San Francisco event.  There’s no need to make a “timeshare” lecture of the occasion, but some sort of corporate product or mission promotion was noticeably missing.  One comment from a party-goer: “Are these guys a dating website?”   Ultimately, a group of us sequestered a Zino shirt-donning associate who clearly was taken aback, and got clarity that Zito had no dating functionality.  As far as the launch party goes, the pros and cons were clear.


  • Excellent viral marketing and promotion through EventBrite, Plancast, and the usual social media marketing biggies.
  • Well stocked with an abundance of food, drink, and live keg to keep people comfortably lingering long enough to socialize.


  • Other than the few t-shirt wearing employees, no clear distinction of this being a Zito party.  Not  a problem when you’re there live, but tremendous lost brand opportunity  when event images are shared socially.
Recommendation:  Make sure your brand manager is involved next time.  Continue to woo your followers.

Startup World TV
Startup World
 is an initiative to promote startups, entrepreneurship and technology, pitching itself as a global competition to find the next great tech product.  They host a competition to be held in 36 cities world-wide, with the regional winners flying to Silicon Valley / San Francisco for a grand showdown to battle it out in front of a panel of expert judges to be crowned the world’s best startup.  Last week’s launch was the first round of competition and it was held in a popular coffee shop / social workspace in the hip Mission part of town.


  • It’s clear what these guys do.  With a structured agenda including introductions, and live interviews, the event was a clear marketing demonstration of the company in action.


  • Catered salad but no forks and few plates?  Yes, really.
  • When your Plancast has an RSVP count of over 150 people, a few 12-packs of beer is simply poor planning.  If you’re going to be cheap, that’s when you use the “limit RSVP” function of EventBrite.
  • Who was in charge of A/V?  Can you say, “demotion”?  If you weren’t standing in the first two rows behind the film crew, there was no way to hear what was being said.
  • The consequence of all this is that people walked in, talked amongst themselves for a bit, then left.  That’s no way to create buzz.
Recommendation:  Hire an event manager and team.  Outsource AV.  Value your followers while they’re still interested.
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Andre Bourque (@SocialMktgFella) is a cannabis industry media influencer, brand executive and advisor, blockchain marketer, and cannabis columnist. He specializes in cannabis industry partnerships, distribution, and funding. He is a ranked social media marketing and content strategist.

5 Replies to “Launch Parties: A Tale of Two San Francisco Startups

  1. Interesting. It sounds like there’s a great launch event somewhere between the two. Which of the two did a better job overall? It sounds to me like the Zite event came off a lot more competent and professional than the Startup World event, even if there were a few missed opportunities.

  2. Too bad for both of them. Lot of missed opportunities and a feeling you are looking on amateur cause they didn’t thought of the whole package right to the small details.

  3. Before launching a product, the makers need to do a lot of planning. They need to target the right audience and then go all out with the promotion. Lack of professionalism in the approach hampers the product.

  4. People should definitely consult this as a veritable what-NOT-to-do for your start-up launch party. No forks! No logos cleverly displayed throughout the decor?!?! Not enough beer or even a way for people to hear the speech? Sheesh.

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