@SFBIZronleuty captures the essence of Union Square during #JPM15
@SFBIZronleuty captures the essence of Union Square during #JPM15

In 1982, a small group of investment bankers at Hambrecht & Quist launched an investor conference for companies in the biotechnology space. At the time, biotech was still seen as something just beyond alchemy: using genetically engineered bacteria to create a whole new spectrum of medications.

The conference has grown each year, surviving a series of corporate changes that have left the confab in the hands of J.P. Morgan Chase. Once the province of biotech executives and bankers, the early-January event now draws companies across the health care space, along with media, marketers, public officials, entrepreneurs and anyone else with a stake in the future of health.

That expansion means that, every year, we get requests on the best way to “do JPM,” which is like asking for the best way to “do Disney”: there’s no right way to conquer a meeting that has become this sprawling. But over the past few years, there have been thousands of words of guidance penned. Here are the best hints to maximizing the experience:

  • “Meet some new people, some old people, some random people doing cool stuff you know little about. Part of the magic of JP Morgan is the sheer density, and diversity, of people in one place doing so many interesting things.” – Luke Timmerman, #JPM14. The whole thing is worth a read, and I provided counter-commentary here.
  • Be on alert for some white lies (“You guys don’t seem like other VCs”) and relentless optimism (“Really, this isn’t a bubble…”). – Bruce Booth, #JPM14, #JPM15. Naturally, this year in biotech will be different. Really.  
  • “Expect to find eight to 15 events all competing for the same audiences simultaneously, all day, every day, Monday through Wednesday. Then expect to wrangle a last-minute invite to the 50 or so evening receptions every night.” – Chelli Miller, #JPM15. Pretty sure that’s tongue-in-cheek, but I may have met some folks on Tuesday morning who looked like they hit 50 parties the previous night. 
  • “You ‘win’ J.P. Morgan in June, not January. Swapping business cards for four days means nothing if there’s no followup until everyone arrives in San Francisco in early 2016.” – me, #JPM15.
  • “3 things you won’t see at JPM: Some really interesting [private] presenting companies … patients … frank discussions about R&D and ‘worker bees.’” – Ron Leuty, #JPM15. Check the link, which also notes, helpfully, how many steps it would take for meeting attendees to reach the “real” San Francisco: 351 steps to the nearest massage parlor, 240 steps to the scent of urine, 135 steps to the hot dog cart.

Please tweet your best hints. Naturally, use the conference hashtag: #JPM16. And see you at the Monday night tweetup!