On February 20-21, The Small Business Web will host its annual Summit in San Jose, Calif. Registration is open and PW readers can receive a $50 discount by entering "PWEB" as the discount code. To learn more about the event, its history and what's in store for 2014, PW caught up with The Small Business Web Founder and Olark's Chief Marketing Olarker, Sunir Shah. Shah provided us a brief history of the event:
I helped found The Small Business Web at SXSW Interactive 2009 when I was running platform and business development at FreshBooks. We've been running the Summit since November 2011. This will be our third annual Summit.
The driving force behind The Small Business web and its annual Summits is the belief that an open web is the best place to find, develop, and utilize software for small business. Shah says:
The Small Business Web is the trade association of the cloud software companies selling to small businesses. The membership comprises the partnership, integration, business development, marketing, channel, and executives of these companies. When we started, we were focused entirely on partnership integrations as a method of growing our companies. As time has gone on, we realized there is no other association like this for the industry and so our scope has widened. Our vision is that the Open Web will be the best place to build, find, and sell software for small businesses. We are trying to build and develop; the market for cloud software, which is actually quite difficult because there are not many retail distribution channels we can use to get to market. Consequently, we have spent a lot of time working with the large channels in our industry like Salesforce, Good Apps, and Intuit, helping them figure out how to best resell partners software vendors to their customers. We have also worked together to co-market where possible.
We started holding the Summit because people wanted one time a year when we could all get together as an industry and talk to our peers in an intimate setting. Most people whose job it is to talk to partners consider this the best event of the year because everyone is there and the entire focus is on getting to know each other.
Unlike traditional conferences, Shah describes the summit as more of a "corporate retreat." Each year, the participants build the agenda from the bottom up based on what topics are pertinent. The attendees are traditionally executives from cloud software vendors (e.g. Salesforce AppExchange, Google Apps, eBay, Constant Contact, Hootsuite, Xero, FreshBooks, Intuit Partner Platform, ADP small business and more). This year, Shah expects about 150 participants. Despite the open-forum-style setting, Shah has big expectations for this year's summit:
The goals of the attendees are networking, deal making, and learning. My goal is that by the end of the event, everyone will know each other on a first name basis. Beyond that, since we incorporated as a non-profit trade association and hired our first staff last year, I have an operational goal of setting up 2014 to really delight our membership.
In addition to this week's summit, The Small Business Web also maintains a presence at SXSW each year:
We also organize an industry event at SXSW every year. For the fourth year, we are booking out a bar to host our own private parties the week of SXSW Interactive. If you're going, but don't have a marketing plan, you can rely on us. For $1,500, you can chip-in along with these great companies: Magento, Salesforce AppExchange, Constant Contact, Xero, Olark live chat, Hootsuite, Google Apps, FreshBooks, Batchbook, MOO, LeadDyno, Ordoro, Sush.io, Janrain, ClearFit, MyEmma, Terapeak, Anymeeting, Handset Detection, Pingboard, Collisionsync, Mailchimp.
Those interested in participating in the SXSW event can learn more here. In the meantime, if you are in the valley this week, consider joining this year's Summit. It starts Thursday morning at the eBay Town Hall.