Two Tribes Go To War: How did Launch48 and StartupWeekend clash on the same dates?

Sometimes there are bizarre clashes in the tech world which just have to be stomached. In Europe the scene is so distributed that at any one moment there is some tech event in one country while an identical event is happening over the border. People have to make choices. But to have two almost identical events happen in the same large European city, aimed at the same audience, at the same time seems at best tragic and at worse careless on the behalf of the two organisers.

TechCrunch likes to see events which promote startups and are accessible. Both Launch48, a home-grown UK-based initiative to mentor startup teams and the somewhat older, international Startup Weekend network are very similar.

But this Friday in London they are both on at the same time, and aiming at the same audience, for the same weekend. How did that happen?

Personally I feel conflicted because although I’d like to support both I can’t clone myself. I committed to speaking at Launch48 (about the media) before I realised that StartupWeekend was on *at the same time*.

This seems like an unnecessary clash, so I reached out to the two sides find out what happened.

Damien Saunders, who is organising London Startup Weekend for June 4-6, similar to their event last year.

He told me over email “Its funny that they [Launch 48] chose to do their event the same weekend. We had been talking amongst ‘ourselves’ about June 4-6 for some time, but couldn’t announce the date until we had approval from the venue sponsor. I have tried to contact the Launch48 team via their website and directly with Ian [Ian Broom, an organiser] but not got any replies. BTW – London is a big enough city … we should be able to get good numbers for both events.”

I was surprised at that response. I figured Launch48 would have got back to them.

I asked Launch48 co-founder Ian Broom the same thing. We covered Launch48 last year.

He told me: “We didn’t know another StartupWeekend event was going to be held in London until after we announced Launch48 dates.  The date for this event was selected based on Launch48 and Paypal’s [the main sponsor] venue availability. We are disappointed as I know some attendees would have liked to attend both.”

I put it to him that StartupWeekend had tried contacting Launch48, but claimed they got no response. Was that true?

“No, we definitely wouldn’t have run Launch48 in competition with them, how would that help the community?” said Broom.

So there you go. I am as confused as you are. But what is clear is that such similar events being on at the same time doesn’t really help anybody. Apart from anything else, TechCrunch Europe does not have the resources to cover both. Not many media have, especially when the two are so similar.

So I’d put it to the two side to start talking.