by Don Rose
Today's Valentine's Day. It's also Tw+Two -- that is, two days since the terrific Twiistup (Episode 5) took place at Santa Monica's Hangar 8 space with roughly 1000 excited guests, the techtelligentsia of LA, the cyber cream of the crop enjoying top notch exhibit booths, food, drinks, games, networking and much more. So, I thought, why not combine the two themes? Here goes: a dozen reasons (think of them as a dozen virtual roses) why I love Twiistup:
1. Showoffs Shine - Twiistup, at its heart, is all about showing off the best new tech startups, many of which are based in the Los Angeles area. Wake up, Silicon Valley -- LA Alley has arrived big time. The LA tech scene is healthy and growing and may just overtake you. Some of the showoff startups that won praise at Twiistup 5 included: Scour (social search, where you get points for surfing that you can redeem for Visa giftcards, sweet!), Cogi (record phone conversations or use it for dictation, sounds like it could be a journo's dream), Chi.mp (free websites to organize your online social life), Socialsimple.com (also aims to org your soc life, see your social networks on one page, etc), Heavybagmedia.com (they held a cool SMS scavenger hunt where clues were texted to players' cellphones, which holds great promise for promoting businesses who have specials, can you imagine flashmobs suddenly swamping, say, Subway after getting texts for special deals?), Cybercoders.com (tech talent recruiters who place professionals in all sorts of tech jobs, they had a kind of cyberdome to hang out in at the show, and friendly founder Heidi is a joy to talk to), Fixya (largest online tech forum community, said their booth), Userplane (a showoff that has been there with a Twiistup booth since the early days, very friendly and helpful staff explaining their services - you may know them for their enhanced IM app) and many more. Even Jake Steinfeld was there (of "Body by Jake" fame, the guy who trained Spielberg) promoting his new book about business. For the full Showoffs list, go to http://www.twiistup.com/.
2. The amazing venue for Tw5 -- the huge hangar meant more room to roam; since these events are so awesomely cool they always attract a packed crowd, but this time everyone could luxuriate with space galore. Plenty of nearby parking too.
3. Twiistup founders Mike and Stephanie Macadaan -- two of the nicest people you will ever meet, who are always making sure their guests have a great time, always pick the coolest venues, and always select the most unique and exciting Showoffs at each event. They deserve huge kudos for taking Twiistup to greater and greater heights with each edition (Twiistup 1 was at Zanzibar in Santa Monica with a few hundred people, while Twiistup 5 had an astounding thousand).
4. Shira -- a wonderful MC, the hot host with the most: sharp, fun, generates buzz and excitement for whoever she is interviewing during the event. Shira: she rocks.
5. Twiistup.com -- an excellent website, with tons of info, and myriad ways to connect with folks and win valuable prizes before the actual event occurs; check it out and get social with the coolest tech minds around.
6. The networking -- you leave with pockets full of valuable business cards when you attend Twiistup. Even waiting in the (fast moving) line to get in you'll meet a dozen people you resonate with. The top talent of the LA tech scene always comes out for Twiistup in mass quantities.
7. Value -- Think about all they provide: Twiistup 5 had over a dozen showoffs to meet, 1000 top creative cybertechgeeks to socialize with, open bars (including ), cigars (see item 11 below), giveaways and raffles, food from Kogi BBQ, 5 full hours of fun, all for $75; quite the deal. Do the math: food and a few cocktails at any eatery worth its salt and pepper would set you back 75 smackers -- and get you lots less biz cards. (I also loved how the Tw5 bars had plenty of Honest Tea, one of The LA Report's favorite non-alcoholic drinks, in pomegranate and punch. No, I was not paid for that plug. Hansens' new line of natural energy drinks also pleased partygoers.) The best testament to Twiistup's bang for the buck can be found in the sales stats: 1000 people bought Tw5 tickets, with 300 more on a waiting list wishing they were in.
8. Fun -- yes, the fun factor was in full force, with Tw5's 80s theme, cool outfits, retro chairs to lounge in (remember those eggish roundish cushioned chairs from the 70s/80s?), chic geek heaven all around. And an essential element of Twiistup fun is the fact that you always get...
9. Surprises! -- like The Dating Game at Tw5. Who else but Twiistup would concoct the idea to have a fun version of this popular TV show where tech PR babe Heather Meeker had to select among three eligible techgeek bachelors. Again, the fun factor. I was humming the original TV theme by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass in my head. (Bet you never thought you'd get a Herb Alpert reference here. See? Surprises! And by the way, his music during one period sold more than the Beatles; wikipedia him. Bet you never saw wikipedia as a verb before. See? Surprises!) And you never know who will show up --- for example, a dead-ringer Bono double held court at a previous Twiistup and you'd absolutely swear the Irish U2 frontman was right there mingling amongst us mere mortals. See http://www.bonodouble.com/. His name's Pavel, but his body's Bono. Where else but Twiistup could you see a sight like that? (Fun fact: I actually worked with Pavel a few years ago, when a firm hired a dozen lookalikes for a party; his Bono rocked, as usual, while I got to channel Garth from Wayne's World; yep, blonde wig, black glasses, drumsticks and all. I might even send you a pic if you e-me...)
10. Giveaways -- Twiistup is superswagolicious, since showoffs like to shower guests with goodies -- some promotional, sure, but always creative. Scour even went so far as to staple dollar bills to the flyers they were handing out (a tad enticing in tough times, and a brilliant marketing ploy to lure Twiistuppers into grabbing a flyer -- hey, a buck ain't chopped liver, and it gets the point across that you do make dough using their social search service). The raffles by Showoffs were also stellar, including an XBOX by Socialsimple and a cool electric Trikke by Cogi. And there was a brand-new giveaway during this latest Twiistup... cigars! Yep, you could even get handrolled cigars outside by the heat lamps and enjoy some Puffy action for a while. (No, not P.Diddy. Come on. And no, no sight of President Clinton.)
11. Games - even before Twiistup took place, you could get some fun gaming action via Ringorang (www.ringorang.bom), which ran a trivia game that incorporated Twiistup people into the gameplay. At the actual event, you could partake in classic arcade games via Multicade (remember that 80's theme!) as well as more modern mayhem via a 3D shoot-em-up and, of course, the greatest gaming hit in recent memory, Guitar Hero.
12. The joy of anticipation -- for Twiistup 6. (They may have to hold it in the Superdome...)
February 14, 2009
by Don Rose