So it has been a long time since I posted and a lot of things have happened in my personal life (I got married) and in my startup life. However, I felt it was time to dust off the auld blog and give it another whirl and with the Web Summit only 6 or so weeks away I thought I would share my tips on how to get the most out of it!
Now the first thing that you (especially if you are a startup in Ireland) need to do is get over the fact that you have to pay to go. It is a conference just like The Next Web and just like them it is a commercial enterprise. If you went to one of those events you would fully expect to pay. Those who know me know how I too have had major reservations in the past about paying to attend, but last year myself and the Conker team paid our €1,000 and went to the event. We were only 6 weeks old, got to meet some great people and got an investor out of it, however by no means did we get the most out of it, but here’s my advice on how to. That advice is based on my attendance at approximately 100 tech conferences and major shows around the world and I would like to share my top tips to get the most out of your conference experience.
1. You can only get out what you put in!
This is a simple rule for ALL conferences and shows. Those teams that plan in advance and bust a hump on the trade show floor (like the Soundwave guys did at SXSW this year) are always the ones that get the most value from them. The WebSummit team have managed to get the most influential and important people in the technology world to visit our little island for a few days! What those people do when they get here is up to you and how much work you are willing to put in! If you just turn up at your stand without a plan don’t be surprised if the world doesn’t make a bee-line to you, and don’t blame the WebSummit team afterwards either.
2. Know why you are going!
This is absolutely critical and may seem obvious but if you are not 100% clear and focused on what you want to achieve by going you will fail to achieve anything. Is it to find investors? sales leads? partners? or are you trying to get the tech world’s media to shine their spotlight on you? If it is a combination of these prioritise them and then start planning around that!
3. Set measurable goals!
Once you have identified the main reasons you are going you then need to set measurable goals. Let’s say for example your key goal is investors. How many investor meetings should you have every day and over the 3 days. Did you have them? What were the outcomes? Knowing these things will allow you to measure how you are performing but also what real value you derived from attending.
4. Prepare Now!
6 weeks will pass in a heartbeat. Start your preparation now and this is what I would be doing.
- Assign a dedicated resource, an intern if you have it. There will be quite a bit of grunt work to do in terms of pulling lists together etc.
- Go through the attendee list, reference them on AngelList and Crunchbase, and ask yourself how could they be of use to you and your startup? Have they invested in something similar, worked in similar startup or could they help you find customers and partners.
- Mail the hell out of them. A simple 2-3 liner, stating who you are, why you are contacting them and if they are free for a 10-15 minute coffee while over. Remember these people are likely to get 100’s of emails and it will be those who scream loudest will get met. It’s not a “no” until they tell you so. Additionally if you have advisors or others in your network who can do the intro thing leverage the hell out of that.
5. At the end of each day
Resist the temptation to go straight to the nearest pub to enjoy all the fun the WebSummit has to offer. The first thing you and your team should do is find a quiet spot, review the business cards you collected (I like to rate them bronze, silver, gold) make a note on what actions you should take with each, review your meetings, action any items that you promised during meetings and then settle into a pint! You and your team can then celebrate a good days work done well and then head out into the general masses. Also I would advise that one person volunteers to do the early shift, maybe rotate this around the team.
6. Be fighting fit!
You have paid for the tickets, done all the prep work, you owe it to yourself to be at the top of your game. I would recommend you go off the booze at least a week before, eat healthy and rest up lots. You will need to bring your A-game for 3 days straight. There will be late nights, heavy drinking, food on the go, early morning coffees and you will need to be as bright and effective on the last night as you were on the first morning.
So that is it for my tips however there is one final thing you should consider. For 3 days Dublin will be the centre of the tech world. All the top people you could ever hope to meet will be here. You have an unparalleled opportunity to meet people who could have a huge impact on your business and what is that worth to you? For me if planned right, and executed well the Dublin WebSummit could be the best thing that ever happens to you! The alternative is that you go to the valley and try and meet these guys there, and that will cost you a hell of a lot more than the €1,000 asking price!!
DublinBeta has been asked to put on a Fringe event as part of the Dublin WebSummit. As we see this as a huge opportunity for some 10-12 of Ireland’s newest early stage startups to get exposure we intend to accept this offer.