I started an AI event series and it went bananas.
I started an AI event series in 2023, hosted 7 events, and it’s grown to over 1,300 people seeking to attend at the latest event. It’s clear that the bay area is passionate about the AI industry. We’re seeking SF hosts for the 2024 season. A line went down University Avenue to get into Llama Lounge hosted at the iconic HanaHaus Palo Alto.
A line went down University Avenue to get into Llama Lounge hosted at the iconic HanaHaus Palo Alto. Photo by Alex Yem
The Anatomy of Llama Lounge Nov 2:
- Pre-event, sold out. At 4:30pm, the AI festivities began with a pre-event hosted by our friends at 500 Global, focusing on investor and founder networking – there was a line out the door.
- Main-Event: Line down the street: At 6:30pm, the Llama Lounge opened its doors, with a line down the street that apparently wrapped around the corner to Cowper Street.
- Attendees were eager to meet the 11 AI startups featured on the demo floor. Not one to shy away from the limelight I kicked things off by blowing a conch shell (video), which could even be heard outside. I then started the opening remarks, expressing gratitude to the startups, volunteers, and our host:
- Collin Sommerhauser, who welcomed everyone to HanaHaus, which he manages.
- Chris Yeh from Blitzscaling Ventures delivered a ten-minute TED-style speech on “Blitzscaling AI Startups.”
- Food and drinks were provided by the hospitable HanaHaus, which offers coworking and meeting spaces. I frequently use these spaces for meetings in Palo Alto – and you should too.
- Here’s the original registration page.
- After-Party: At 9:30pm those who were still down to socialize gathered at the Rose & Crown, the famous silicon valley watering hole featured in the show Silicon Valley and popular hangout for top tech founders and VCs.
- Final Numbers:
11 AI Startups were featured on the Demo Floor, Along with a keynote from Chris Yeh of Blitzscaling Ventures
Origin Story of Llama Lounge the AI Startup Event Series
I attended the “Woodstock of AI” event hosted by Hugging Face in SF on Mar 31st, where 5k people showed up, and someone even brought living llamas. My tweet went viral about the event, catching even Elon Musk’s attention.
It was at that event, while staring eye-to-eye with a non-spitting llama that I realized it was the perfect icon the market needed, far more modern than the outdated unicorns.
Wanting a catchy name with alluring alliteration, I coined “Llama Lounge” (no relation to Meta). Just three days later, I announced the Llama Lounge, and within three weeks post-Woodstock of AI, we hosted our first event with 400 registrants.
Since then, we’ve hosted six more events, each seeing an increase in demand, over a thousand people seeking to attend the recent event. Since inception, over 70+ startups have had the chance to demo on the floor, meeting customers, partners, and investors. Today, the Llama Lounge boasts dozens of amazing volunteers, a 1,300-person Slack channel, inbound requests to host, amazing sponsors (big tech, AI startups, law firms, marketing agencies, VCs and more), and over 250 startups seeking to demo.
Honestly, I can’t take too much credit, I followed Tara Hunt’s advice from over a decade ago she told me to, “get in front of a parade,” which is exactly what I did. Vibe at the Llama Lounge Nov 2 event in Palo Alto: networking and mixing. conversations continue in the slack
WHAT THE AI INDUSTRY SAID ON SOCIAL MEDIA ABOUT LLAMA LOUNGE ON NOV 2:
Founders, investors, executives, influencers and more, click each link to see photos, videos and more:
- Amy Kelly, CEO of Miri (featured on demo floor):
“thanks for having us demo at #llamalounge! Incredible AI community quite literally building the future. Feeling very inspired”
- Ronald Mannak, Founder of PicoGPT:
“I haven’t seen a line this long in a long time. So many people here in Palo Alto for Llama Lounge”
- Emmanuel, CEO of Scenario AI (featured on demo floor):
“Another night pitching Scenario to hundreds of people at HanaHaus, Palo Alto. Gotta love ???? the energy that #AI brings back to Silicon Valley!
- Pianpian Xu, AI Founder and CEO at Amotions (featured on demo floor)
“…Thanks everyone who came by our demo booth to see our AI coaching, upskilling, and knowledge management product!
- Al Dram. AI Founder and CEO. Blueprints (featured on demo floor):
“Do you aspire to be surrounded by the elite visionaries who are actively sculpting a better future? Llama Lounge is where you need to be! I was incredibly fortunate to present Blueprints AI at this prestigious venue, HanaHaus, among the brightest minds in technology….Presenting at the Llama Lounge has been a highlight of my journey with Blueprints AI,”
- Video: Anshul Madan, Entrepreneur, AI Product Management, Angel Investor: “Blitzscaling first time at Llama Lounge organized by @jowyang, w/ presentation by @chrisyeh #llamalounge
- DrStarson, AI Founder: “Getting started at the #llamalounge together with an epic group of founders and investors:
- Sawyer Middeleer, Chief of Staff, AI startup Aomni (featured on demo floor): “We had so much fun introducing Aomni to dozens of new friends who came by our table at Llama Lounge yesterday. It was an electric atmosphere in Palo Alto surrounded by the brightest minds and builders in AI. As I write this post from my flight back to NYC, I’m energized and inspired by the enthusiasm of the AI community.
- Dmitriy Richard Starson, Founder and CEO at Passio AI (featured on demo floor): “Sharing Passio AI story at the #LlamaLounge in Palo Alto HanaHaus In a great company with several amazing startups and founders”
- Rashid Rifai, CEO – Co Founder @ Knowtify AI: “The synergy created from these events is truly transformative, creating a vibrant hotspot for AI in the Bay Area. I’m eagerly looking forward to more such brilliant opportunities to come together and form stronger bonds in the AI community. The capital of AI is here! “
- Karolyn Zeng, Founder, GenAI startup 5th Universe“Once again, Llama Lounge’s temperature was boosted a few notches up — thanks to the enthusiastic participants who lined up on the streets of downtown Palo Alto waiting for the Grand Debut to start!
- Jaya Bandyopadhyay, Founder & CEO at RevSpacer: “Super like to experience the high energy at Jeremiah Owyang’s latest Llama Lounge AI meetup at Hanahaus in Palo Alto last night. We need more of these here. And yes, with conch shell blowing! Bumped into my founder buddies from SF and met a few new ones.
- Chris Kenton, Founder, Social Rep
“Hanahaus in Palo Alto last night, and was once again blown away by the caliber of people and startups. I met a few incredibly smart people currently working in AI in healthcare, finance, infrastructure and marketing. I’ll definitely be calling on them for feedback on what we’re working on with AI“
- Jeffrey, Cofounder of confident-ai.com:
“was incredible last night at LlamaLounge.”
- Tatyana Kanzaveli, Founder and CEO of Open Health Network;
“the valley is back!!”
- Brian Solis, Influencer, Speaker, Head of Global Innovation SuccessForce
“Many of us attended Jeremiah Owyang #llamalounge AI event. Hundreds of investors, founders, and luminaries. The line went down the block.
- Julie Liao, VC, Yes VC
“Never thought I’d be lining up on University Ave to attend an AI event but the energy last night was Fire”
- Video: Bill Barry, CEO Ignite GTM”
“Where is the end of this line?!? Absolutely nutso energy here at #llamalounge!”
- Charlie Hinojosa, Founder of Sightbox
“LlamaLounge continues to be the catalyst event for bringing all these amazing people together. I haven’t seen this kind of vibe here since 1999.”
- Chris Guest: Founder.
“Being at last night’s Llama Lounge AI Meetup in Palo Alto felt like like being part of a great moment in tech history. Hundreds of attendees lined up around the block, interesting entrepreneurs and investors at every turn and a sharp presentation from Chris Yeh of Blitzscaling fame.”
- George Hurn-Maloney, Investor at EnvisionX Capital:
“You know it’s 2023 when the local Borders bookshop you grew up next to turns into an AI hype-house filled with excited entrepreneurs.
- Murray Newlands, VC, event host:
“Had a great time at the lama lounge event last night.“
- Kevin Patel: Senior Principal Software engineer:
“like the Rock concert of the AI industry. The pace at which AI is advancing is nothing short of breathtaking, and it’s gatherings like these that fuel my inspiration
- Anthony Gonzales, Founder:
“Llama Lounge was LIT From health to gaming AI, the magic unfolded at the beautiful HanaHaus in Palo Alto. It’s all about the power of community and innovation”
- Ozlem Peksoy Bishop:
“Blitzscaling live from HanaHous Palo Alto”
- Dennis Shao:
“Kick-off of the Llama Lounge event for AI startups”
- Rich Schwerin:
“Great to see @Content_Meetup founder @dshiao and long-time community member @beth_mccullough tonight at #LlamaLounge!
- Gregory Kennedy:
“Holy AI! What a turnout in Palo Alto.#llamalounge”
- Tim Hayden Photo:
“In line for #LlamaLounge”
- Gregory Kennedy, CMO, Part 2
“Last night’s Llama Lounge was at full capacity! I attended every one of these this year and feel lucky to have watched, over nine short months, interest in AI startups go from: “It’s so over.” ? to “We are so back!” ?
- Passio AI:
“We are insanely grateful to be a part of the amazing #AI community! An epic event, amazing energy and great people!
- Padden Guy Murphy, Startup Growth Leader:
“Llama Lounge AI founder & VC mixer last night amazing turnout and group of humans. I haven’t seen energy like this since early days of sharing economy. You are amazing. “
- Meg Bear, Board member, Executive. “Last night was a really special reminder of why in-person events are so important”
- Bill Johnston, CEO, “One highlight was spending some time in Palo Alto on Thursday night for Llama Lounge at Hana House.
- Benjamin Tu, AI CEO
“Had a great time yesterday attending Llama Lounge & 500 Global’s event last nite at HanaHaus:
- Blake Menezez, Head of Marketing “…bringing together a fantastic event with several hundred builders, investors, and operators in the AI space last night.”
- Marylene Delbourg-Delphis, Serial CEO. Board Member.
“Huge crowd and many remarkable companies demoing their products — with one that is very dear to me, Scenario. Lots of good friends around”
- Vijay Rajendran, Investor:
“Reflecting on a fun week, one of the highlights was Llama Lounge AI meetup.
- Christine Tran, Product Marketer:
“It was a full house, with a wait list, and a line at the door. Felt like it was Friday night at the club but instead I’m twice as old and getting pitched by a dozen AI startup founders” (JKO: haha love that Christine, thanks for coming out)
- Michael Knych: Investor:
“What a terrific mix of new ideas, interesting people and presenting startups.”
“The line was 200+ in front of the venue. A huge successful gathering. cannot argue about how much ppl love to come to Palo Alto to discuss about #GenAI:
- Emerson Leuschke:
“AI enthusiasts gathered at Llama Lounge in Palo Alto, eagerly waiting for the doors to open. The energy and excitement were palpable as hundreds of startups applied for a demo slot. Who would make the cut?”
- Tim Hayden:
“The trip was capped with a visit to #LlamaLounge”
- AI News Trends Video:
“Inside the Llama Lounge AI event”
- Video: Anthony Gonzalez on Twitter:
“Llama Lounge was LIT. 750+ registered. 11 AI start-ups on the demo floor.
- HanaHaus Video:
“Last week’s Llama Lounge in Palo Alto was truly electrifying!”
- HanaHaus on Twitter X:
“Last week’s Llama Lounge in Palo Alto was truly electrifying! The line stretched down the block, and the buzz of AI innovation filled the air!”
- Daniel Zimmer: Sr. Director, SAP Labs US:
“I‘m amazed and proud tonight after attending the #Llamalounge event at HanaHaus. Amazed how the#AI community has taken over the Silicon Valley by storm and created a post-pandemic renaissance for the entire region, ready to change the world… Tonight was the biggest event ever after 8 years of HanaHaus!’
- Collin Sommerhauser, our host, and Head of HanaHaus Palo Alto
“Breaking records and rewriting history! The energy in the room last night was absolutely electric and I had the unique opportunity to give opening remarks on behalf of SAP and HanaHaus, a moment in my career that will forever be etched in my memory.”
- My Twitter Video of the Llama Lounge Line (40k views)
Vibe at the Llama Lounge Nov 2 event in Palo Alto: networking and mixing. conversations continue in the slack.
The welcome team included volunteers: Shirley O, Irina P, Martin B, Victor T, Karolyn Z, Blake M, Minh D, Jeremie GP, Ishmeet S, John H, Jessica O, and others. Thank you.
The Llama Lounge logo was designed by Sightbox, a premium marketing agency with whom I’ve partnered multiple times.
A heartfelt thank you to Sunset Squares, who have hosted us numerous times throughout the year. We are always grateful for your partnership and the amazing food.
Thanks also to those who flew in from all over the United States (Montana, Colorado, LA, San Diego, New York, Boston, Austin, Seattle) and around the globe.
Llama Lounge 2024 Schedule
Next Year, Llama Lounge will host six events, We’ll have our first Q1 event in SF, with a focus on Autonomous Agents (AI startups can apply to be featured on the demo floor). Seeking SF venue hosts for next year, DMs are open