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This article was published on January 31, 2011

Lanyrd launches to change the conference landscape using Twitter

Lanyrd launches to change the conference landscape using Twitter
Courtney Boyd Myers
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Courtney Boyd Myers

Courtney Boyd Myers is the founder of, a transatlantic company designed to help New York and London based technology startups gr Courtney Boyd Myers is the founder of, a transatlantic company designed to help New York and London based technology startups grow internationally. Previously, she was the Features Editor and East Coast Editor of TNW covering New York City startups and digital innovation. She loves magnets + reading on a Kindle. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter @CBM and .

A new Twitter-fueled events planning app, Laynrd launched today, as TechCrunch reported. Similar to Plancast and Upcoming, the Y-Combinator-backed start-up wants to be the ultimate app for conferences.

“We hope to have a positive effect on the conference landscape,” says Simon Willison, one of Lanyrd’s two founders. “One of the hardest parts of launching a new event is getting the word out and we hope that by making that easier more people will be inspired to start event organizing. We also want to encourage smaller, local events and get more people into public speaking. There are plenty of smart people with knowledge to share who don’t hear about the opportunities or know how to start.”

Lanyrd was founded by Willison and his wife Natalie Downe. The two founded the site on their honeymoon, releasing most of the major features in Morocco and Egypt. They applied to YC from Egypt because the site had started taking off much faster than they had anticipated. The original plan was to keep working on it while traveling around the world but they had to take a break from their honeymoon and fly from Cairo to San Francisco for the 10 minute YC interview.

After being accepted and receiving the much-discussed 150K investment from YC, Downe and Willison are hard at work. The money means they get to work on the product for a lot longer without having to switch in to fund raising mode.

At its base, the resulting app pulls information from your Twitterverse and displays conferences your friends are going to or speaking at and lets you finds conferences near you or browse conferences by topic.

While you’re at a conference, Lanyrd asks you to add the speakers at a conference by entering their Twitter names, which means the speakers don’t have to actually create an account on the site themselves in order for their speaking profile to start building up. As a result, when they first launched the site on August 31, 2010, it had over 500 speaker profiles and 100 events, but it was only the two founders who had entered the data. The “events your friends are attending” took that data into account and since speakers tend to have a lot of followers it meant there was a good chance that people who signed in early on could see at least one suggested conference.

“This key social feature works great even if only a few people are actually adding data to the site,” explains Willison. “It solved the classic bootstrapping problem – with most sites like this, it’s not worth using the site unless all of your friends are using it first.”

You can use the app even if you’re not at a conference to see who is tweeting what and what links are doing the rounds. It displays all event information, present and past such as a list of speakers, attendees (and their Twitter accounts), links to the conference page and the ability to save conference information quickly to your iCal or Outlook calendars.

After you log into the site with your Twitter account and it gives you the option to sign-up for a newsletter with the aforementioned information. It displays your profile and lets you add events you’ve spoken at as well as any books you’ve written. The site itself is easy to use, although it could aesthetically benefit from a design revamp.

Lanyrd is useful to find upcoming events that will most likely interest you. I was also impressed by the number of Twitterers in my Twitterverse who are speaking at some pretty cool global conferences. It pulls from a database of over 1169 conferences at the moment but more are being added everyday.

“Today we had over 17,000 signed in users and over 3,000 of them have edited the site, so it’s not just Nat and I any more,” says Simon.

At the moment they’re concentrating on user growth and count “active” users as users who have marked themselves as attending or tracking a conference at least once. Lanyrd’s API lets you pull their complied data to your own site or app. And while their site is mobile friendly, a designated mobile app is in the works.

The couple’s next conference? Strata next week, followed by SXSWi in March.

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