Launch Announces 2013 Show Dates, Josh Hunter Discusses Updates

Launch LA
is returning to the Barker Hangar for its second iteration on July 16-17, 2013.
Founded by the crew behind Surf Expo, Launch debuted its juried trade-show format, designed to unite upcoming brands with action sports boutiques and lifestyle retailers, last summer to strong reviews.
“Launch was a blast,” says Julie Ellis of Rais Case. “I am blown away by how many like minded people I met. It was fantastic to get my brand in front of so many amazing new contacts. It was a pivotal experience in my growth in terms of what I am doing and where I want to go with Rais Case.
The response from retailers was equally solid. “The show was really, really good,” says Rick Moe of Blackbird in Ballard, Washington. “Some good new brands I hadn’t heard of before as well as a few familiar faces.”
To learn more about next summer’s show’s updates, we caught up with TWBiz alum and Launch Head of Sales & Marketing Josh Hunter.

What’s new for 2013?

For 2013 we’re really focused on smart growth. For LAUNCH it’s more important to present the right mix of brands than it is to have the sheer number of exhibitors increase, so we’re capping the show at 120 brands this year. The goal isn’t to exclude any one, rather to ensure that each exhibitor at LAUNCH contributes to the intimate, cohesive energy on the show floor.

What lessons did you learn in the first year that you’re building off?

Following the success of the first LAUNCH show, there were so many lessons learned and valuable take aways. For instance, Ray Barbee’s instrumental jams were perfect for the vibe of the event and the really suited the venue. However, day two we had a punk band play—not the best call. Amps turned up to ten inside an airplane hangar with a tin roof just didn’t work. There were a lot of little things like that which we learned along the way, and now that we have the first show behind us, we’ve made sure to take those little lessons and put that knowledge to good use. You can expect some really cool upgrades to the show next Summer.

Here’s a look back at last year’s show:

What won’t be making an encore appearance?

Like I said, we will not be bringing in a punk band—that’s for sure. We’ll make some other tweaks as well, for instance we will have several food truck options next year. The lines this year got pretty long, so we’re going to make little corrections for things like that. We’ve also upgraded our Website pre-registration system, exhibitor application process, and several other internal operations. We’re also working on some really cool lounge concepts, so that aspect of the show will be quite a bit different this coming year as well.

Josh Hunter at the 2012 Waterman’s Ball

How are you guys looking as far as exhibitors at this point compared to last year?

Following the first show, there’s been a major increase in interest from brands. I think now that we have the first show under our belts, and because the show was well-received by the media, retailers, and exhibitors we’re in a good spot to grow the show in the right way. Now the proof of concept is out there, and word of mouth has been great as well, so I’d say we’re in a really good position and there’s excitement for the event from returning exhibitors and new additions as well.

What percentage of brands are coming back?

I don’t have an exact number at this point, but based on all the feedback I’ve received I’d say that a high percentage of brands from year one will be returning in year two. The first show really created a sense of community, and I think that’s one of the things that really transcended though the whole vibe of the event. The energy on the floor was much more intimate and relaxed than at other, larger shows and people really appreciated that. I think combining that feeling of community and camaraderie between exhibitors with an audience of  A-list lifestyle retailers and media was a winning combination. Retailers were able to sit down, relax, and have one on one meetings without feeling overwhelmed or distracted. Several brands told me that LAUNCH was the best trade show they’ve ever done because the environment was much more conducive to doing business than others they attended. That was the plan all along, so it was very rewarding to hear those types of comments.

Are you switching it up on the jury or will it be the same people?

We’re always looking to expand our advisory board, but we’re also very happy with the caliber of members we currently have. That aspect of the show is very organic, so over the course of the year I’m sure we’ll be announcing a new addition or two.

What was the feedback from exhibitors last year? Have a couple quotes? 

Feedback was overwhelmingly positive. I had several brands tell me that it was the most successful show they’ve ever had, which really made me feel good. I know a lot of brands were excited to open new accounts and get at once orders as well. One brand came up to me at the end of the first day and said they had opened PacSun, Tilly’s, Swell, and Kitson. Another found me on day two and told me they had just received a $5,000 at once order. Overall, the brands that supported us in year one were very pleased with how the show turned out and that’s the single most rewarding part of the whole thing for me.