Web Summit Startups Do's And Don'ts

How to make the most of Web Summit
Mon Nov 13 2017

Web Summit 2017 has finished, and it’s time to look at the mistakes and make the conclusions.

It was the first time we went to Web Summit, and we had very vague ideas of how to prepare for it. So, we started from some basic and well-known practices: looking for the people that can be potentially interesting for us, connecting them through social networks, mostly via LinkedIn and trying to arrange the meeting beforehand.

The first thing that you may ask: is it worth going there? Well, our answer is - YES! It’s definitely worth all those efforts, time and money that you put into it. It’s a great opportunity to show your startup to the tech world, collect the feedbacks and talk to the investors! We were surprised to meet in Lisbon, the companies that we couldn’t reach in our country, just because they are huge and we’re only an Alpha stage startup. But these boundaries erase on Web Summit. It’s the place where you can easily bump into a CEO of an international billion dollar corporation and pitch your startup. Or meet the investor that you wouldn’t be able to see anywhere else.

As WebSummit has just finished, it’s hard to make the conclusions whether it was successful for us or not. However, there are certain things that we would definitely make differently. So, here is our list of do’s and don’ts for those who are planning to go to Web Summit 2018!

Start preparing as early as you can

Don’t hope that the clients/investors/partners will find you themselves. Try to fill your schedule with as many meetings as you can beforehand. But keep in mind that it’s not the final variant, and some meetings will certainly be changed and postponed. The more important thing is to qualify the people you want to meet. For example, create two lists, one with the “people must-meet” and the other with the “people nice-to-meet.” Besides, try to learn more about the people you want to meet. At least, look through their LinkedIn or Facebook profile.

Stand out from the crowd

That means that your booth should be easily recognizable. These can be some lights around it, T-shirts for the whole team, etc. We don’t persuade you to wear the costume of a unicorn (though we’ve seen Saalim Chowdhury from 500 Startups in such costume this year: ), but a certain level of creativity is a must. By the way, it’s also a good idea to give the people who come to your booth to test your product and give the discounts.

Don't go on Web Summit alone

You should have, a least, three people in your team. It’s physically impossible to go to all the arranged meetings, pitch near the stand and visit the speeches/workshops at the same time.

Focus on one goal

Some startups come to Web Summit, but, at the same time, they start to sell various kinds of services, including outsourcing. In the result, they neither find the clients/investors nor sell anything. On the contrary, focus on one goal and try to reach it.

Develop necessary skills

If you have the problems with English or you don’t like/can’t talk to the clients, take with you the people who can do this instead of you. Ideally, take up some courses before going.

Elaborate your pitch

The meeting with a potential investor can happen any minute and anywhere, and you should be prepared for this. It means that you should have a pitch that you know perfectly well. Apart from the general description, it’s necessary to remember the most recent numbers, be able to tell about the last success stories of your startup, etc. In other words, the investor or whoever you’re talking with should feel that you know your product.

Communicate with the natives

–°ommunicate less with your fellow countrymen. Of course, it’s much easier to find some common topics with them, but did you come to such a massive event to speak with the people you can talk to other 360 days a year?

Go to Beta startups area

If your startup already gives a steady revenue, we don’t advise to take the booth in Alpha startups area. It’s much better to exhibit in Beta area. As a rule, Alpha startups area is mostly for very early startups, and they don’t get as much interest from the investors as Betts startups.

Exhibit for more than one day

Officially, you can have a booth for one day, however, for the additional price you can exhibit 2 or even 3 days. It means that you increase your chances of getting leads in two or three times.

More to this, there is one “lifehack” that we didn’t know about when we were exhibiting. Certain startups just came and put their stands into the free booths. There is always an empty place, especially, in Alpha startups area. Of course, ideally, you should pay for this, but Web Summit is so huge that nobody controls it. However, it might be a bit more difficult to find an empty booth in Beta startups area.

Don't postpone the important meeting for the last day

We saw the people on the third day of the event who were rushing from one place to another trying to talk to as many people as they can. Such a rush can hardly be effective.

Use modern tools for optimizing the work with the leads 

Send the follow-up messages after Summit finishes. Think of the chain of letters (from 10 to 20). But if you see that the lead doesn’t answer the last 2-3 letters, stop annoying him. Otherwise, you’ll be banned and get to the black-list.
By the way, a nice idea of a follow-up message is to send the lead your common photo with the text (of course, you shouldn’t forget to take this photo during the event). In that way, you’ll stand out from the crowd, and the lead will definitely pay attention to your message.   

Make the targeted advertisement on the leads 

Target the adds to them on any possible resources: Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, etc. Remember that it’s not cheap so choose the target audience carefully.

Make an interesting content in English and mention there the people you met on Web Summit

As they say, it’s better to learn from somebody else's mistakes then make your own ones. This is the reason why we created this post. We’d like to ask, what did you learn from Web Summit and what mistakes do you advise the startups to avoid? Please, leave your comments below.

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