In the past few weeks I’ve been receiving some emails from French startups accepted into The Summit’s Alpha Program – their program to help seed startups who are bootstrapped or have raised raised a seed round – and are curious as to whether it was worth the cost (the Alpha program is free, outside of Travel + Hotel costs). The program has an equivalent BETA program (Startups who have raised up to $7M), which costs 1950€ + Travel & Hotel, and the START program for larger companies, and many have asked me about the experience of attending & exhibiting at The Summit.
Next Week The Summit will release the first 500 startups accepted into the Alpha & Beta program, which includes startups from 120 countries, and so I believe that, having attended the last two editions of the event, it could be useful to share my thoughts publicly:
1) Know what you’re going for
The key to calculating a return on investment(ROI) is A) knowing the size of the investment, and B) knowing what justifies a return – seems simple, right? For events, that means having an actionable game-plan: some exhibitors I saw were clearly counting business cards, some have a pre-defined list of people (or number of types of people, like VCs) to meet.
If you’re looking at attending or exhibiting at The Summit (or any conference for that matter), know who you want to meet. The Summit provides what I consider to be the benchmark for attendees lists, providing you a combination of people from your country and top attendees. You can also see their speakers. broken down into various ‘summits,’ of which there are currently four – enterprise, Internet of Things (IoT), digital marketing, and builders.
You can be pretty sure that press will be there – just look at their coverage – however, don’t expect them to carry a sign that says “come pitch me.” Most press spend the majority of their time in the press lounge, interviewing and writing articles about speakers, announcements, etc. The last two editions, when I wasn’t eating, judging, speaking, or visiting exhibiting friends, I was in the Press Lounge, trying to get face time with Tony Hawk. Because, why not?
I recommend finding someone with a press pass (Hi) or a speaker pass that you know (there are many speakers, so you’re bound to know someone), and getting them to daisy-chain you into the Press Lounge, which, if like previous years, is also the main entrance to the speaker lounge (great for pre- and post-stage speaker interceptions).
2) Stable, large returns come from long-term investments
If you’re hoping to make a ‘profit’ (get an immediate ROI) off of this event, or any, think again. Large events, like anything else, have a learning curve – try to plan a few things for the first year, but plan to learn a lot and feel like you missed out, and develop your strategy for events as a whole, if you don’t already have one.
3) “The Summit is so big – can you really get anything done?”
Yes. Yes, yes, yes. If you have a problem networking, and are banking on small events in order to be sure not to miss anyone, then you’re in the wrong business. Founding a startup is about hustling, and there’s no bigger hustle than picking the needle out of a haystack that will help you advance.
As a rule, I try to identify as quickly as possible how I can help the person I’m talking to – or whether I can at all – and if there’s nothing we can do, I give them my card and say “Let me know what I can do for you,” letting them know that, if, somewhere down the line, they think I can help them, that they can always contact me.
This is where business cards become an indicator of your success – it’s not that each business card is worth the same, or that the more you have the better you did, but it’s a sign of how quickly you moved from people who were irrelevant to your business to people that are.
Rude Baguette will be at TheSummit this year. Will you?