Looking for the next Pinterest at a street fair

First-ever open-air startup fair sets up in the shadow of city hall in Mountain View, Calif.

by  May 2, 2012 1:36 pm PDT

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — Are we in a technology bubble? From the looks of things here, we may well be. The city that hosts Google, Evernote, and Pinterest hosted its first open-air startup festival today, attached to the annual Startup Conference. Although churros, cotton candy, and midway games were lacking, the carnival atmosphere was not.

Inside at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, next door to City Hall, 600 conference attendees listened to talks from investors like Dave McClure and panels on topics like crowdsourcing. Outside, organizer Alain Reynaud had set up a festival where, he said, he was trying to replicate the atmosphere of the art and wine festivals he enjoys in the wine country to the north of Silicon Valley.

The Startup Conference is in its third year, but this is the first with the accompanying outdoor event. Reynaud says he has support from the city — Mayor Michael Kasperzak was in attendance — and next year he wants to close down Castro Street in front of City Hall and really blow it out.

As to the startups pitching in the tents, I don’t think there was a Pinterest-level company among them, but some of the ideas were interesting, aggressive, and definitely opportunistic.

In that last category, opportunistic, the award goes to VentureDocs, which pitches as a “Legal Zoom for startups.” CEO Bo Sartain says that his document-construction service, at $400 for a basic package for incorporation paperwork, costs a startup 10 percent or less than what it would cost to go through a law firm. But VentureDocs will also help you find a lawyer (probably not a bad idea). Sartain came to the Startup Conference street fair, he told me, since “these are all my potential customers.”

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