Every year in November Lisbon becomes a Mecca for tech entrepreneurs, investors and anyone, who is involved in software development or startup ecosystems. WebSummit brings together 60 000 visitors, tons of new ideas and the most tech atmosphere in Europe.
I visited WebSummit last year as Product OMS in Rademade and want you to give some useful tips for Business Development professionals and Startups meet the goals and enjoy the rush at the next event.
How to get there?
- Buy a ticket — the earlier you buy, the less you pay. Prices vary from € 350-400 for early birds (1 year before the event ) to € 850 for the last minute purchase.
- Purchase a booth — whether you are a startup or just want to pitch your services to the attendees — you can rent 1x1 sq m for 1 day and fight for their piece of attention. There are 3 options — ALPHA, BETHA and START, depending on your project current stage what stage and how much money you want to invest. Every option gives you 3 tickets, a space for 3 people maximum, 1 or 2 sockets and a square banner above your booth.
- Become a volunteer — submit a survey 3-4 months before and with high probability, you will be chosen to volunteer at WebSummit. Usually, it requires your presence 2 or 3 days for 5-6 hours each, which from my experience is not the most efficient way if you arrive to find some prospects or partners. I volunteered until 4pm and had only 2 hours to ran through 3 pavilions and meet with those attendees I planned to meet with.
But eventually volunteering gave me a chance to meet Mr. Vogel, the CTO of Amazon!
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How to prepare?
This part targets Business Developers, Sales and other professionals who are interested in not wasting their time (and money) at the event.
My advice is to schedule as many meetings with your prospects as you can — it gives you more or less a plan of your trip and helps to make sure that it will be efficient.
You should start 2-3 months prior to WebSummit by scanning the list of attendees and startups which were already announced — the main idea is to schedule the meetings on a particular day / time to make it easier to eventually meet.
Ideally, you need to send 3-4 follow-ups to get in touch and schedule a meeting — that’s why it is important to start earlier and increase your chances to book a time slot on your prospect’s schedule.
If you target startups — dedicate more time to the list of exhibitors and ask them about their booth number, day of exhibition and a section where they will exhibit. For the most of those guys it is the first time they exhibit and it’s a really nice idea to visit theri boot, connect and encourage them.
Having at least 20-30 scheduled meetings feels much more convenient plus you can network with attendees and visit all startups which will be changed every day.
How to be efficient at the event?
Start as early as possible — the Conference starts at 9.30 but the first attendees and exhibitors arrive there at 8.30 so you can have a very good chance to talk to them without standing in a queue.
Hint #1: grab their attention! When you pitch to a startup about your services at 5pm — they probably will miss all your speech as they are tired and you’re the 50th outsourcing company which approaches them, so find the way to light them up.
Hint #2: write a couple of words on a business card of your new acquaintance — then you will recognize what you talked about when writing a follow-up. You can also sort out potential partners and prospects cards to different pockets. If there’s no card — ask for taking a picture of their badge and write a brief note to it.
Hint #3: leave something after your visit. Not flyers! From my experience, fliers and other printed stuff don’t work and wind up in the nearest trash can. Bring some candies or funny stickers which can be put on a laptop.
We brought stickers with a unicorn as a symbol of successful startups and some candies which was always a nice way to make people smile. And there were also gift cards for 30 hours of software development to the customers, who purchase our product Online Marketplace Software.
Hint #4: make a selfie with people you meet and publish them to Instagram. First — it’s fun, but it also will be easier to attach this photo to your follow-up after the event and make it easier to recognize you.
How to squeeze more?
The event ends at 6pm but don’t think of it as a time to relax — during WebSummit Lisbon shines with many «unofficial» evening events where you can network and meet prospects or investors in a more casual atmosphere and without a rush.
As our delegation last year counted 4 superstars, we discussed where each of us should go one day before and tried to spread our presence «1 event — 1 representative from our company». It helped to visit many events and not to stick to your colleague so we always met other people.
The benefit of spreading your presence is also in different quality of the events — each of us usually visited 1-2 events every evening and sometimes they were not very productive. But on the other hand, your colleagues may have more luck on their events.
Prepare the list of interesting events beforehand and you will have a chance to register and get in. Some events close their registration a week before and there’s no chance to get there. So plan your evening activities as well.
In my case, each evening ended at Pink Street — the most famous party street in Lisbon, dotted with bars and amazingly overcrowded. This part of your day feels really relaxing — just grab a beer or a cocktail and meet your friends or friends of your friends or just people from your country, which you didn’t see for a long time but now you are in Lisbon!
After WebSummit ends, I advise to stay in Lisbon for at least one day — this will be one of the laziest days in your life! From my experience, you can be working for up to 16 hours daily without enough time to eat and sit.
In the next article I will share some lifehacks about preparing for WebSummit if you are a startup and plan to exhibit there.
Event ended. This is only the beginning!
Stay tuned and good luck!