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If your tech conference is ever lacking in enthusiasm or profanity, just bring in 500 Startups founder Dave McClure to warm up the audience and flip them off.

McClure gave one of the first talks at Montreal’s International Startup Festival today and cut through the crowd’s sleepiness by encouraging people to be hated rather than inspire no reaction at all.

“Hate is better than indifference,” McClure said. “They care enough to tell you they don’t like you. If they don’t care, they will give you nothing to work with and you can’t pivot or whatever. You can’t make a brand around indifference.”


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To illustrate being memorable, McClure used one of his favorite tactics — flipping off the crowd — and having people in the crowd flip each other off. He also threw his arms around crazily and asked a woman from the front row to “Hulk-ify” with him.

“Don’t be afraid to be hated,” McClure said. “A bunch of geeks here have had experience with shame or hate, but you have to find your passion and find what gives you power.”

McClure said we are in an “Italian renaissance” for geeks and have entered into a new era of design and social innovation. He noted that it’s never been cheaper or easier to launch a startup and that monetization for web startups “still sucks in a lot of place, but it’s getting better.”

Besides demonstrating how to get a reaction from consumers, McClure’s other big point to the audience? Take some insane risks with companies you have a deep passion for.

“If you start from a place with nothing, you should take risks,” McClure said. “I encourage you to find something you’re passionate about. Because you are most likely not going to succeed, I want you to have good time failing.”

Photo credit: Sean Ludwig/VentureBeat

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