There’s another ‘how much are startups willing to pay to network?’ debates going on over at TechCrunch. At issue this time is Indonesia’s SparxUp seminar on 5-6 November this year, an event organized by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs in the spirit of Tchcrunch50, and with some pretty big-time tech sponsors. Its US$350 entry ticket price, however, is causing some concerns in the comments. One pointed out this amounts to ‘1/8 the average yearly income’ of an Indonesian and would probably serve only to keep the event out of reach for the very public it’s designed to attract. Others make the often-repeated argument that the high price is a good investment for access to big players, while the organizer himself points out that most of the events surrounding the seminar are free, while the seminar itself is aimed at bankers, investors and other high-end participants who typically have larger budgets.
Others say the price is irrelevant (and affordable to many) but have concerns about any event with large Western sponsors and foreign guest speakers. Will they genuinely help the Indonesian scene, or mine its best talent with better offers elsewhere? While suspicions like this seem protectionist and don’t fit the spirit of a global tech community, it remains that many would prefer the Indonesian scene to stay local for now and develop its own brand further before the big money moves in. As usual, the jury is out. Expensive conferences attract much needed attention and offer benefit to non-paying participants, and there are still alternative events run by organizations like StartupLokal offering support with less hype.