Get in on the Ground Floor

At some point in my life, I got interested in markets. Really interested. I started out interested in public markets, and I’ve grown into my interest in more private markets. But, overall, I love markets — the trades, the liquidity, the exotic instruments — hell, I used to LOVE doing some pretty funky options trades back when I was a stockbroker (butterfly spreads, anyone?). Still, I wake up this morning to the news that the EU bailout fund is 1 Trillion (trillion – with a “T”), I read somewhere that the total worldwide derivatives market is $700 Trillion (trillion – with a “T”), and I read this piece by Mark Cuban (questioning what business Wall Street is in), and I can’t help but feel like the public markets have become something I barely recognize anymore.

Not to be overly nostalgic, or pass judgement — I just have this overwhelming sense that it ain’t what it used to be. You sure as hell can’t read a Peter Lynch book, buy Home Depot because you shop there, wait 30 years and hope for a “10 bagger.” Those days=kaput.

Somewhere amidst my little musings, a thought occurs to me: it’s always more fun when you get in on the ground floor. Whether it’s markets, or startups, or whatever — the guys in EARLY, are the guys that see real returns. And I can tell you, having been around the operation of tech conferences for over 10 years now, the same applies in this space.

Sure, you can go to the giant trade show — the MacWorld, or Web 2.0 Expo, or CES, or SXSW, or RSA Security — and there’s value in the experience (I’m purposefully NOT defining “value). But if you find a targeted conference that’s early in it’s development (ie, the attendance numbers are under 500-700 people), you can gain an entirely DIFFERENT level of value.

You see, the truth is that at shows like Gluecon, a community forms. That community might only be 30 or 40 people large in years 1 and 2 — but those 30 or 40 people form a core. And if Gluecon is going to be around for 3, 4, 5 years (hint: it is), and grow to be a really good sized conference with real influence (hint: it will), then you WANT to be in that core. Why? It’s simple. That core community is special. They’ll have been there from the beginning, contributed to the direction of the conference, grown *with* each other (and hired, acquired and started things with each other) — in short, they’ll get privileges afforded by the community (and the conference organizer) that other, late comers simply will not get.

And it’s not simply that you’ll *receive* something by getting in early. It’s that you’ll be able to *contribute* something that late comers won’t be able to contribute. Gluecon in year 2 (this year) will be filled with a level of interaction and contribution that’s made *possible* by the fact that we’re in an emerging industry and this isn’t some 3 thousand person expo floor.

In short: it pays to get in early. It pays to get in on the ground floor. It pays off in that you’ll contribute directly to forming a core community, and when the early stages are over, you’ll be part of that core community.

You only get a couple swings at this pitch. Ever. Join us.