Attending the Web Summit with a startup? How can you maximise the occasion and exploit opportunities? Here’s a quick guide on how to make the most of it all, with some key tips from experienced tech founders and CEOs.
1. Research, research, research
"For every hour I spend on the ground at a conference I do about three hours of research," says Alex Hawkinson, chief executive of SmartThings, which debuted at The Web Summit in 2012 and were acquired this year by Samsung for €200m. “Before going to an event, find out who is going to be there, between speakers, investors and media. Then pick those that are relevant to what you do and plan how you are going to get to meet them. Get them to remember you.”
2. Keep it brief
Here’s a simple, but rarely answered question: when emailing someone for a meet-up, how detailed or brief should it be? According to Robert Scoble, ‘the shorter the better’ is your rule. “It goes something like this: ‘Hey, I know you're going to Web Summit. I'm going too! Here's my goal…’ And insert a one-line goal. Then: ‘Can I meet you?’”
3. Define what you want to accomplish
“Are you most interested in learning, networking, getting media attention or pitching to an investor?” says David O’Flanagan, chief executive of BoxClever, the Dublin-based product design firm. “It’s easy to be overwhelmed and get distracted with so much going on during a conference.”
4. Get to as much as is physically possible
There is so much going on for the four days of the Web Summit that it is impossible to get to everything, but still worth getting to as much as possible. You never know where you might make that one really important connection, from breakfasts, to workshops, to meetings, pub crawls or even jogging sessions. There will be people looking to meet you and hear about what you are doing. The more places you are, the more connections you make.
5. Have a business plan
Be ready to be quizzed and questioned. Have a business plan at the ready and have the numbers to back it up. Include data-driven answers and projections for the next 12 months. Let everyone know that you have a plan.
6. Engineered serendipity
"It's public knowledge who speakers, investors and media are,” says Connor Murphy, founder of the Irish relationship intelligence startup Datahug. “They are on the website, in the ads. So research who is going, find out their Twitter handles, Linkedin profiles, maybe even have a guess at their email address. Get in contact with them and see if they can meet up. If that fails, everybody uses Twitter, Facebook or Instagram to check in and share their location. If someone you really want to meet checks into a local pub, why not head down there and have a chat over a pint?”
7. Bring a big team
The Web Summit is a big place. There are 20,000 people with lots of opportunities and possibilities. The more team members on the ground, the more meetings, connections and pitches that can happen. Get as many of your team there as possible, split up where necessary and cover as much as you physically can, including breakfasts, lunches, pub crawls, workshops and anything else that is going.
8. Perfect a 30-second Pitch and a 6-second pitch
You never know when the chance to pitch your company will come about. It could happen in a lift, at the bar or waiting for a taxi. Be sure you're ready for every type of scenario. If you have 30 seconds, prepare a 30-second pitch and learn it off. If you have six seconds -- the length of a Vine video -- prepare for it and have it ready to go.
After the Web Summit ends be sure to follow up. People don't remember all the meetings they have had, so make sure they don't get the chance to forget. Follow up with an email in the weeks after, a quick synopsis of what you talked about and where you can go from there.
10. Carpe Diem
Remember: seize the day. Create your own luck and hustle.