Is HustleCon for the Entrepreneurial Blogger?
In June, I had the chance to go to HustleCon 2018 in Oakland, CA. HustleCon is an annual one-day conference for start-up entrepreneurs. Founders of successful companies share their personal stories and give advice on how to start and grow a business.
A few weeks ago, a blogger friend of mine won a ticket to HustleCon. When she couldn’t attend, she offered me the ticket and I said yes. I wasn’t sure how much HustleCon would apply to me, but I couldn’t turn it down. Say anything with the word “hustle” in it and you’ve caught my attention.
First, I wanted to know if HustleCon would be beneficial to the small side hustler. I sell second-hand clothing and accessories online. I’m also a blogger who’s growing my blog into a business as well. I’m still flying solo on both ventures with no immediate intention of hiring others, raising capital, or anything of the sort. But if anyone successful wants to share with me how they hustle better, then I want to hear it.
So is HustleCon worth attending for the small side hustler or solo entrepreneurial blogger?
Fifteen people spoke over the course of the conference. Here are a some of them:
- Lisa Stone, Chief Strategy Officer at Ellevest
- Jake Kassan, CEO and Co-founder of MVMT Watches
- Pat Brown, Founder of Impossible Foods
- Henrik Werdelin, Founder of BARK
- Max Mullen, Founder of Instacart
- Kyle Taylor, Founder & CEO of The Penny Hoarder
- James Freeman, Founder of Blue Bottle Coffee
Besides the speakers, there were a number of companies present as partners of HustleCon. These companies had representatives present sharing information about their products.
- If HustleCon was sold out as in past years, then there were 2,500 attendees.
I watched 14 of 15 scheduled talks for the day. All the speakers gave some information or advice that I found useful for even the solo entrepreneur. A few of my favorite takeaways:
- Provide additional value to your clients. Justin Khan spoke about providing additional value to potential clients of his law firm by helping them create their raise funding pitches. His clients are entrepreneurs who would benefit from his experience writing pitches. When he offered that as an additional service, potential clients recognized his value and he signed on more clients as a result.
- Look at successful people’s failures. It’s easy to compare yourself to others and their successes when you’re not there yet. Instead of focusing on others’ successes, look more closely at their failures. Learn what they did and how they overcame them.
- Think about alternative solutions. Pat Brown of Impossible Foods recognized that meat production is out of control in the US, but the solution wouldn’t come by trying to convince people to stop eating meat. Meat consumption is deeply ingrained as part of people’s culture and their quality of life. They’re not willing to give it up. So Brown invented an alternative, a plant-based burger that tastes like a real meat burger.
- Reduce your costs as much as possible. Henrik Werdelin of BARK reminded attendees that statistically, you will fail at your entrepreneurial endeavor. He shared that one way to reduce the pain of failing is to reduce the cost of trying to succeed.
- Celebrate every member of your community. Jessica Herrin of Stella & Dot shared so many good points during her talk, including my favorite of the day: celebrate the success of every single person in your community. If your community sells products as hers does, it doesn’t matter if a seller sells one item or a thousand items. It doesn’t matter if she sells for only a few months or she’s been selling for years. Each person is a part of the community and should be celebrated for his or her achievements.
Beyond practical advice from speakers, value can be found in other aspects of the HustleCon.
- Speakers offer inspiration even if their advice is not directly applicable to attendees. When it comes to HustleCon (or any conference), you’ll likely find that not all speakers’ advice will be relevant to you. You can still walk away feeling inspired and motivated to continue your entrepreneurial journey.
- At HustleCon, you meet so many people with the same entrepreneurial mindset as you. You can network with them and leave with a good dose of inspiration and feedback for your pursuits. You might even make contacts for potential future collaborations. There was plenty of time for networking too. HustleCon hosted a free event the night before the conference, a long lunch break, and a post-conference happy hour. I can’t say enough about networking. It’s how I ended up with a free ticket to attend HustleCon.
- Conferences are a good way to get to know sponsoring companies better. They have company representatives there to introduce you to their products and answer your questions. Sometimes companies offer special deals on products or services to conference attendees. At the very least, you can walk away with some freebies.
So Should You Attend?
If you’re looking to start a business with the intention of growing and eventually raising capital or hiring others to work for you, then HustleCon is for you. This applies to the solo hustler and entrepreneurial blogger as well. But I would recommend this conference for the established blogger who is looking to grow his or her brand and business even more, You’ll learn about obtaining funding, increasing brand visibility, managing a company, and more.
HustleCon is not as directly or immediately applicable for the early blogger or small solo side entrepreneur. This was the case for me. I used HustleCon mainly to learn new ideas about entrepreneurship, gain some inspiration for myself, and meet fellow hustlers. If you’re a new or newish blogger or small side hustler, you would be better off spending your time and money on things that have a direct impact on growing your business. That would be things like obtaining inventory to sell, purchasing courses on how to blog or sell, and paying for an email service.
How to Attend
HustleCon tickets range in price. This year the earliest bird pricing was $149. Prices went up as the conference got closer, ending at $499 for last minute tickets. It’s hard to deny that the earliest bird pricing is a steal for a whole day’s worth of top-notch speakers and networking.
Being frugal minded, I’m always looking for ways to save while attending. Here are a few ways to attend discounted or for free.
- Volunteer – I was surprised at how many volunteers worked at the conference. Volunteering is probably the best way to guarantee a free ticket. I spoke with one volunteer who was able to watch almost all of the speakers and join in post-conference socializing.
- Win a ticket – This year HustleCon held an online drawing giving away 50 last-minute tickets for free. This is a good option if you’re willing to risk not winning and therefore not attending.
- Purchase tickets second-hand – In the weeks leading up the conference, people posted on the HustleCon Facebook page trying to sell their tickets. You could try to purchase from someone who bought an early ticket to obtain their discount or negotiate on price.
Attending conferences is fun and helpful when trying to grow a business, but they also come at a cost to your time and money. That's why It's important to try to determine how much value you will get from attending before committing to going. I decided to write about this year's HustleCon to give people a better understanding of what goes on at the conference so they can determine if it's right for them next year.
Even though I’m a small side hustler and blogger, HustleCon 2018 was still fun and educational for me. Would I pay full price to attend next year? Probably not. But I hope to go again in 2019 if I can manage with one of the options above. Maybe I’ll see you there!