5 Tips your Startup should know before attending your next Tech Event
Earlier this week, I was in attendance at the STHLMTech Fest hosted in Stockholm, Sweden.
This event offered a plethora of big names within tech, investment and accelerators.
Grandiose was in no shortage, as VIP’s and startup’s kicked off the festivities at an investor mingle in the stylish ALMA building, complimented by a cordial dinner hosted at Stadshuset’s Blå hallen later that night (this is the same setting for the Nobel Prize Dinner).
The following day was jam packed with talks from some of the Nordics biggest tech unicorns, and an exhibition floor crawling with talented entrepreneurs, tech ventures and investor profiles.
Working in the tech startup space, you quickly realize it is a domain that offers a rather chaotic charm. Attending tech events is a draining task, yet hold great value for the future of your startup’s development and growth.
New experiences = Learning experiences
And, in my book, education is the backbone to innovation. So go to your next tech event, experience something new, talk to other startups, seek out potential partnerships, dare to speak to investors, collect a lot of business cards, test out the VR company’s headset (I’ve been to a lot of tech events; there’s always at least one VR headset on-site) and pitch in front of an audience even though you’re terrified.
Simply, network your ass off at the next tech event you attend with your company!
And when you do so, here are a few things to keep in mind.
1. You’re not the only one.
There are a lot of great companies, with a lot of great ideas.
Stay humble to the fact that your company isn’t alone at the event. Too often, I’ve met entrepreneurs and employees of other startups that speak in a degrading tone about other tech ventures at the same conference as them.
Something to keep in mind: you’re all working in the same community of tech startup ventures, vying for the same investment, and pooling the same workforce. Don’t be the bully of the playground. No bully ever became class president (excluding Donald Trump of course).
2. Creators vs. Creatives
There’s a difference between having a great idea and having a great business model.
Both are valuable, but only one is profitable. Make sure that you get your ducks in a row before sending them out to sea.
Investors at tech events are a tricky species. But regardless of your company’s development- if you’re seeking Seed, A, B, or C-round funding — investors are looking to collaborate with creators.
Set yourself apart by assuring you have a proof of market, sales and a concrete business model/team before you start asking for that next investment. Even the most innovative, mind-blowing, tech companies have to bring some kind of value to investor talks. If your technology isn’t the next cure for cancer, than you better have a paying customer or two to display.
Otherwise, you risk being clumped along with the creatives- not the creators.
3. VC’s want to see scalability
Regardless of the quality of your product, VC’s and other investors want to see the scalability of your business model.
Pitch product first, but hone in on impact and profitability.
Most investors are looking to fund companies that have sustainable growth models. Volatile market sectors can lead to volatile growth and exponential returns, but today’s trends are pointing towards sustainability in all verticals; investment included.
Ask yourself: can we scale from within?
If the answer is no, figure out a scenario, in which, your company can see gradual growth internally and exponential growth in profitability.
In this regard, you have to know your KPI’s in-and-out. What are the metrics for success in your business’ marketplace?
For example, Kodiak Rating (the company I am employed by) works within the SaaS domain. We sell a SRM software service to large-globally functioning procurement teams, whom we aid to develop more sustainable and responsible sourcing activities by providing intelligent supplier ratings.
That’s a typical little elevator pitch intro to what we do. Investors, angels and innovation funds can see the potential for the product’s success, but that’s not what they really care about.
Introduce the product, pitch impact and scalability.
Continuing this example; we always pitch our licensing model, MRR (Monthly Recurring Revenue), ARR (Annual Recurring Revenue, CAC (cost of acquiring a typical customer), LFV (lifetime value of a typical customer), existing customers, churn-rate (if it’s low), explain how we’d utilize investment, and make an ask/tell them what we’re looking for.
4. Refine your pitch or Dine alone
This tip piggybacks off the last tip.
Investors don’t have the luxury of time. Literally, they have a room filled with hundreds of entrepreneurs looking for funding, and a quota from their management to add new profitable ventures into their portfolio.
Refine your pitch and capture their attention within a two-minute conversation.
That’s all it should take.
Investors aren’t looking to hear about the backend development of your software, and which type of marketing scheme you’ve ‘found’ that ‘sets you apart from the competition and existing big-names’.
From a recent seminar I attended- hosted by Salesforce- at Sup46, an accelerator for startups in Stockholm, Sweden, I listened to Linda Plano speak about creating the perfect pitch. Something she mentioned has stuck with me, and I believe it can help any entrepreneur refine their pitch, and hopefully, become the most popular kid at the party.
She said, “Investors are very simple creatures. When they hear a pitch they want you to: Reduce Fear & Increase Greed.”
5. You’re smack dab in the middle of it all!
Take advantage of the innovative minds surrounding you, when attending your next tech event!
Tech events are hubs of growth, and home to the beginnings of some of the most impactful and disruptive companies to the future of the business world.
Networking with peer entrepreneurs is equally as important as mingling with potential investors. This is where collaborations and partnerships are formed within their infancy, creating potential for life-long cross-organizational value and growth.
Go into your next tech event with an objective:
Example: Meet x number of potential partners; Meet x number of investors; Collect x number of contacts; Talk with company x; Meet person x; See seminar x,y, and z.
Going into a tech event is like jumping into an aquarium. There’s a lot of different species, vying to live in harmony, but the hierarchy must be respected, schools must be formed, and the sharks will likely eat up the mackerel. Simply put, find your place, set goals, and execute on your objectives!
Engaging in conversations with peers is an often-overlooked portion of tech events. If you’re working with marketing, seek out another marketer to discuss strategies, tools, trends and metrics for growth. These are the conversations that will transcend traditional business success by breaking down silos and working within an agile and contemporary context.
Until next week.
This publication is brought to you by author Sam Jenks, but also on part by Kodiak Rating — A Supplier Relationship Management SaaS functioning out of Stockholm, Sweden. Kodiak Community intends to challenge traditional business practices with innovative thinking and creation.