With most of Europe’s tech scene somewhere between Web Summit and Slush –
I would like to acknowledge the value of the smaller, or more intimate events along
with some ways startups can maximize their opportunities.
Over the last 18 months, I had the privilege to discover amazing startupsfrom all over
the world while scouting for Startup Wise Guys.
This means I have been to many conferences which most of the time consist of the
cluster fuck that is “networking” (with people on one side of the red ropeor the other)
followed by a night with too much alcohol, and culminating witha pitch contest.
While this is a recipe that works for conference organization, it is fundamentally broken for startups seeking exposure due to a few reasons:
1. Everyone is after the same few people.
2. Everyone is after the same few things.
3. Everyone is chasing something that hardly, if ever, will be found at a conference.
The number one thing startups have on their side is controlling their communication.
While pitching is completely overrated, an effective delivery is not. This is where
practice makes perfect. You may spend 10,000 hours on your company but everyone
at these conferences judges you and your startups within the first secondsof meeting
or by your 1, 3, or 5-minutepitch on stage.
Meanwhile, 99% of pitching is not done on stage but in conversation. The amount
of startups that struggle with this is alarming, but also a result of the situation.
This is because many foundersfeel they have one magical moment to grab the
person of interest, deliver a rapid pitch,spill some love potion, and walk away with a
check or a new customer.
Interactions like this are all too common and puts the founder in an unfair light, most of
the time resulting in one side quickly and politely asking for a card to “definitely” follow up
with after the conference.
1. Have measurable and attainable goals
In a spreadsheet, list what you hope to get out of the conference.
o How many investor contacts
o How many potential customers
o Speaking opportunities
o What ever metric works for you and your team
2. Only attend conferences that will add value based on your goals.
Don’tspend a lot of money chasing big name events. Plenty of quality
relationships can be built in regional events. Use these to get
3. Nail your pitch. Tips below and in no particular order.
o Value Prop: Fundamentally, what do you do?
o Problem/ Opportunity:
o Quantify, quantify, quantify.
o Business model:
And here's a great example of a pitch
“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
– Maya Angelou
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