24 recipes for a startup to succeed at a huge global exhibition, using the example of Web Summit 2018
For those who are interested in the 24 recipes themselves - they are at the end of the article.
Web Summit 2018 in Lisbon is a very large-scale event, I attended this for the first time and very much surprised me. Firstly, the fact that the planned number of visitors of the summit is 70K, with a population of the city of 600K, that is, in principle, every tenth person must be a participant of the summit. In fact, we began to feel the scale of the event when we were approaching the metro. Just crowds go in one direction. Therefore, it is simply impossible to make a mistake in the morning hours on the days of the summit - “are you going there?” The whole city goes to the summit. Follow the crowd.
It was nice to see that on all subway schemes, at the station where the summit is taking place, there is a sticker with the logo of the summit - you will not get lost for sure. At all transfer stations, everywhere signs.
A lot of young people, it is clear that from different countries. Quite a lot of Russian speech, many already have a Web Summit badge on their chest, so they flew in a day earlier ... But no, look closer - EVERYONE have such a badge. The whole car. The whole metro station.
Badge get after registration at the summit. In addition to it, they also put on a fabric bracelet on the arm. If you lose one of these, you have to pay 100 euros, you lose both - you need to pay 1500 euros again for an entrance ticket! With the bracelet you can wash, checked. Badge take care.
We, as participants, by the way, didn’t have to pay so much, we paid less than one for all 3 tickets and got a stand with this money. Making new technologies profitable!
Coming out of the subway on the street - just go where everyone goes. Closer to the entrance - volunteers begin to appear, who divide the flows into those who have already registered and those who are not yet. They smile, greet, and we look forward.
Web Summit, start
Registration takes less than a minute. And here we are at the summit!
There is simply an unreal number of people around and everyone goes somewhere, they say something, and all this is formed in the incessant rumble that will haunt you all the days of the summit.
We first lost a few. A map is one thing, and on the ground it is another to navigate. And despite the fact that we had a plan, it was immediately unclear how to look for those people who offer their services? Just chaos of thousands of people.
We look at the navigation signs - there are such everywhere: between the pavilions, inside the pavilions. Despite the fact that we already met with the map of the event in the Survival Guide at the Summit, which the organizers send to all participants, in reality everything is quite different.
Web summit, shock
To introduce the number of visitors - imagine you are standing at the entrance to the pavilion and it includes a person at 20-30 per second. And so it goes from 8 to almost 16 hours non-stop! After lunch, the same flow is added in the opposite direction - to another pavilion, I did not see anyone leave before 16-17 hours. Rather, the flow becomes weaker by this time.
The first half-day we spent in a slightly shocked state of the number of participants and visitors, from the endless and fast-moving crowd, which is almost everywhere, and just a lot is critical in the central aisle of the pavilion, from where it spreads smoothly to the stands and other pavilions. We decided that while we are focusing on the terrain, you can still visit several reports, for example, the favorite venture investor of our CEO, David Skok, who, by the way, compared to other speakers, simply collected a full house at each performance!
Having a little recovered and having listened, unfortunately, some not so useful reports (all this is in a network in this or that type), the lunch came. And almost half of the summit visitors moved to the area of food courts, of which there are as many as three - between the pavilions. The queue of 200 people in every stall with food, every square centimeter is crowded, of course there are no free tables. Immediately eat, smoke, talk, sell. As the saying goes: "there is nowhere to spit."
"Homework" before the summit
Nevertheless, we arrived at the summit with well-defined goals: To find new customers and partners, and to test several hypotheses about the strategy for bringing our product already operating in Russia to the world market.
Of course, we were preparing for the summit, but, as it turned out, it was still not enough.
Make a plan
We tried to make and release the product and website redesign, prepare promotional materials
At the summit site , all participants have been listed, but to click and watch each of the 1700+ participants,
But "programmers" ! Naturally, it was found that the data was immersed in the form of JSON arrays, and, lo and behold! In addition to the information that is visible on the site, these arrays contained information about the stage of investment, the amount of investment, links to all social networks, what the company's performance indicators for the last year, and the regions where the company operated. Mmm, yummy! One and a half hours of work and the parser is ready. And here they are ~ 1700 companies in the Excel spreadsheet.
After that, almost a week of hard work went out to read about each participant, to see the sites of those who are especially interesting and to understand who is suitable as a client and who is a partner who can “take the tail”. There were almost 150 companies. So, the list of those with whom we want to chat is!
How to use "homework"?
At the summit, the question arose: how to find them? Tens of thousands of people around, thousands of stands. Where to go?
Check out the video - what is it like to focus on the summit:
If you look with the sound, then you can imagine what a hum of thousands of voices stands there, which stops only at the end of the day!
We think! Inhale-exhale. Summit mobile app! There must be something there! And for sure! If you drive in the name of the company in the search, then the company's card contains the stand number and date, I called it “the date of standing on the stand”.
Oh, now you need to somehow run through all 150+ contacts and find the stands. There is no place to sit down, I would even say: "there is no place to drop a laptop." But when did it stop us?
We wander around the food court and see that behind it, behind the fence, where trucks stand, there are unloaded pallets with something. We decided that this is a great place to put the laptop and systematically deal with all contacts. Almost 30 minutes using the summit's WiFi (by the way, it worked quite normally, I wonder how they provided it to such a number of participants?) And a mobile application, two of them: one dictates the company name and writes down, the second one looks in the application for the stand number and date, we painted in our table all who are interesting to us. It is THIS homework that we did not do ... well, somehow we didn’t realize, we are to blame ourselves.
Then we were asked from there, referring to the fact that the gate to the summit from this loading area would be closed, but the matter was already done and we flung back a couple of seconds before the lock was hung on the gate. Although, I think we would not be tired and then climbed over them, despite the jackets :) After all, we had a goal!
Only on the second day we learned that the summit has special zones for participants in each of the sections, where you can work at the table and sitting on a chair in a relatively calm atmosphere ... The noise is the same, but the crowd bends around this island two meters away, at least that way.
Getting started to contact
So on the first day we had almost 30 stands. It is lunch time, until the summit’s closing time is 6 hours, so it’s about 12 minutes for each potential partner / client. And this is taking into account the fact that it took 10-15 minutes to get from the first pavilion to the last, and the stands we wrote out were scattered around all 4 pavilions.
We look who is now with us and forward - to the boarding!
By 18 o'clock there were 3 stands in the farthest pavilion. We are still cheerful and cheerful, we are on the edge of the attack, looking for clients! Run! To our disappointment, two of the three stands were already without a sign and the participants were not found. But one stand still standing! And behind the stand, you can see a couple of “tired of the sun” guys and frankly, one might say, “face” drinkers of BEER! No, well, a normal attitude to the business? Well, everyone has their own morals. We start the conversation, and in response we hear the meaningless (or the meaning of "fuck off") - "ok", "ok", "ok" ... We now wondered why they were so tired, why don't they react like all 27 booths before? When we stand all day at our booth, we will understand the reason!
1 day is over, we are returning "home"
The day ended, the summit was empty and we went "home." On the way, almost an hour! they stood in the subway in the queue for tickets to the machines, of which there are only 2 pieces for the whole crowd at the International Exhibition station, and a lot of space for 5 more such devices around. But well, at least cards are accepted. I'm not talking about NFC, with which I pay at home, even for fruit in a nearby stall. Once, only in the supermarket, through which the road to the summit lies, we were able to pay for contactless, in 99% of other places there is nothing so close. I don’t remember to spend more than 5 minutes in the subway in Moscow to buy a ticket.
How does it feel to have your Web Summit booth?
The next day is our “standing on the stand”. What to expect from him is completely incomprehensible? Will people fit? Or do we just think that we have made a very important technology in the near future? Where they put us - it is clear, this is stand No. B338, and where is it specifically, will there be traffic there? Well ... let's figure it out.
Requirements of the organizers and how to deal with them
Since the requirements of the organizers of the summit on the stand are very tough, we have found a way to "get out".
“Presentation equipment should not exceed the size of 27 inches”, the balls can not be, light bulbs, flashers, coffee / buns can not be distributed, nothing can be ...In fact, no one checked it (well, or I didn’t notice anyone), so many people distributed food, coffee (although in bags) ...
So, at our own peril and risk, we decided to take the thing that makes 3D holograms - a holographic fan “Hyper Vision ”, since he was only 25 (!) Inches, which, theoretically, was allowed. True, he created Wi-Fi Hot Spot, which, as we have already read in the memo on the stand, was forbidden (it’s strange that the manufacturer did not provide for a cable connection).
I remember how skeptical I was at first about this choice - they say, guys, such devices have existed for several years already, who do you want to surprise at the world exhibition ?!
And in fact we surprised almost everyone! Less than 5 people, at the same time, our stand was not photographed! And we placed a hologram so that when photographing our contacts would be in the photo.
In fact, it just happened, but we all say it was done on purpose.
No one missed a chance to photograph our booth:
Force majeure and how to deal with them
Of course not without force majeure! Setting up the presentation already in a hotel in Lisbon, we put this miracle device on the edge of the table. And for you to understand, this is essentially a fan, with LED diodes on the blades. So, it turned out that it vibrates a little while rotating. And from the vibration "slightly" jumps on the table. In general, he quietly leaped to the edge and fell. Fan!!!
The blade bent down and the controller of the extreme diodes disappeared and they, at the very end of the blade, stopped changing color - they began to glow a static yellow color. Suddenly, our 3D presentation found a “holy” look with a yellow halo.
But, necessity is the mother of invention, and RANDOMLY in the backpack, I had a piece of black tape for winding a stick (my son is playing hockey), so we covered these diodes with a tape. Got better! - just a slight blink on the edge of the hologram. There was nothing to do - we will act with what we have.
What to do on the stand
We got a stand at first glance "on the gallery" - the farthest from the central passage, where the main crowd of visitors goes. On the other hand, it is directly opposite the exit from the SaaS Monsters conference hall where the reports took place. We install our hologram to the exit from the hall. And then we see that this is an error! The first reports will begin in a couple of hours, it is necessary to deploy a hologram in the direction of the central passage. Deployed.
And then it began! Every few minutes someone approached us and asked “what we are” and how we can help them. Brazil, Japan, Canada, Angola, Czech Republic, Nigeria, Germany, Georgia, Ukraine, Poland, India ... who just was not! I have never done so many pitches a day!
It turned out that only I, was able to "process" 51 treatment per day. From 9 to 18 it turns out a new contact every 10 minutes. This is incredible, just fantastic!
I can’t imagine a place other than the Web Summit now where you can get a new lead so quickly and in such quantity.
Forget about food, water, toilet and so on while standing on the stand! You will have no time if every contact is important to you! Our life hacking - drugs to ensure the smooth operation of the body. Especially considering the fact that water and food are different anyway, “unforeseen circumstances” could arise. We covered this risk.
Here they are 24 recipes as a startup succeed at a huge global exhibition, using the example of Web Summit 2018
- Hone your pitch on each new client and look for words that will “touch” him. At the end, we found an additional phrase “Even your mom can save this type of a mobile app”, which later went down with a bang. Modify pitch
- Track what is “NOT impressed” in your pitch. And perhaps the characteristics of the product. Modify pitch
- It is very good when one speaks, and the other follows the reaction to it, but so will have fewer meetings.
- Try different pitch options. Modify pitch
- Be sure to ask at the beginning who approached - what they are interested in or need. So I was incorrectly selling Telecom Solution - a telecom company that needed a completely different one, and working with bots of a well-known company that saw us as a completely different solution. A colleague from Cisco - a solution for working with telephony, although he was engaged in servers. Many participants to whom we approached did not do this, but told a learned story and this reduces the speed of passage of the halls, because you need to understand what you need and what is interesting. But some asked, using a good argument - what will give us a personalized presentation if we answer who we are and what we want.
- Have a website with answers to frequently asked or controversial questions that customers can ask to quickly show answers. Have a couple of laptops with different pages of the site open to display these answers quickly.
- It makes no sense to "polish" the product and fix the bugs to the summit. You will not have time to show all the "guts" and the product itself. Make a video of your product for 1-2 minutes - that will be the most! If more than 2 minutes - do not inspect exactly.
- We made all these mistakes and showed a “live” application - it was quite simple but showed all our advantages. In 2 minutes everything becomes clear. But we spent 10 times more resources for its polishing than we would have spent on preparing the video.
- The most diligent are Japanese. They fill in all forms, write to you everywhere if you are interested in them. Well, in general, communication with them is different from all others. Then in the mail you need to handle them with the Name-san. I messed up and wrote Mr. in the first letter. Name. A must or san-name or Mr. Surname.
- Remember that you have only 5-7 minutes for each visitor. No one is watching how your program works - it really works as stated. You will literally have a couple of minutes to show something and a couple more minutes to exchange questions.
- The pitch should be really short. Just a few sentences to keep the visitor interested and provoke him to additional questions.
- Finish communication on irrelevant topics. Or if the client himself does not understand what he wants from you. If the client is not yours - politely leave, others are waiting for you.
- Collect business cards! The summit mobile app will give you contact only if the one you scanned is confirming your scan. I had 7 very important customers not confirmed, because they simply did not go and did not understand, because it is not obvious in the application and I had to look for their mail and phone on the Internet.
- Fix at least briefly - the name of the company and what was agreed, or what was offered. After 50+ contacts a day, remembering something is unreal. Fix immediately! 30 seconds for fixing will save you then a few hours when you rake contacts.
- Set goals for attending the summit and follow them during it. By the hour, on schedule, on the route.
- Evaluate - have you achieved your goals?
- Make a SWOT analysis on the results of the summit - what you saw, heard who addressed, what was the interest, etc. We, for example, partially changed after the SWOT analysis, the sequence of markets in which we label.
- Make all contacts and business cards in CRM. Start chatting. The longer you wait, the more likely that you will be forgotten.
- The number of participants on the stand is not more than 3. If less - then miss a lot of leads, if more, then there will not be a queue around you, and people, as you know, are curious, and try to go where there are a lot of people.
- Try asking the organizers to make your booth on day 2 of the summit. On the first day, everyone will try to navigate, and on the third day they will be on “relaxed”. We went to a meeting and set up a stand on the second day.
- Dress comfortably, shoes are preferably sneakers, but at the end of the day they will buzz in them.
- Stock up on food or plan a meal a little earlier than 12 or after 14 hours.
- At the summit, everyone speaks fluent English. To fly there without knowing the language makes no sense. Then even with Russian colleagues continued to communicate in English, so as not to switch
- Treat your partners with respect. We did not feel for a moment ourselves, some not so, did not feel any prejudice, with representatives of whatever countries we spoke. I think everyone understands that there is politics, but there is business, technology, and for them there really are no borders and nationalities.
Our result Web Summit 2018
- We collected almost 150+ lead customers. Not just business cards, but warmed up, let the 2-minute pitch of the lead express the desire to work with us.
- 50+ leads of partners who can also sell us.
- Found the perfect pitch and catchy phrases
- Found that it is in our products is of interest
- Partially changed the product development strategy, choosing integrators as the target audience
- Bought and broke a holographic fan
- We adjusted the product development goals, threw out ~ 500 tasks from backlog, set ~ 200 new ones, and ~ 300 tasks changed the priority.
PS What else we made a mistake - this was done by a 5 minute video clip for our fan, where there was a lot of text, albeit flying. And it was necessary to have more graphics, colors, animations, in order to only attract attention, too, no one particularly paid attention to the content.
How do you spend your time at big conferences?