Ever thought about attending an industry event or conference but unsure whether it is worth it? Ever asked yourself “What value can I get by attending industry events?”
No matter which industry your startup is in, there will be conferences and events where like-minded people congregate to discuss a whole host of topics related to your industry. And a startup can derive immense value from such events.
In this interview, we speak with Lenold Vaz, Program Head, Startup League, a community designed to provide early-stage startups with a range of benefits including marketing support, event sponsorship and more. Recently, the Startup League financially supported over 40 startups to exhibit at Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal from 5th-8th November 2018. Read on to find out more about what drives the Startup League and how their experience of being at Web Summit was this year.
What is the Startup League and what makes it compelling for startups to come on-board?
The Startup League is a unique initiative by Radix, the domain registry that owns some of the most successful new domain extensions such as .TECH, .STORE, .SPACE, .FUN, .WEBSITE, .ONLINE, .HOST, etc. The Startup League program is designed to provide top-notch marketing support and benefits to early stage startups that are looking for an impactful go-to-market strategy. The program presents a bouquet of benefits such as sponsorships for events such as Web Summit, RISE and TechCrunch Disrupt, along with free goodies, marketing support, and more.
Tell us about your experience at Web Summit.
Since 2016, we have been supporting startups to exhibit at Web Summit, known to be one of the world’s largest tech conferences. The event gets 70,000+ attendees from 100+ countries and this comprises one of the most evolved tech audiences in the world. The stage is ripe for early-stage startups looking to test their innovation, get feedback and gain visibility among investor and media circles. It’s for this reason that each year, Web Summit hosts 2000+ startups to exhibit on its grounds.
This year, we sponsored 40+ startups to go to Web Summit. In addition to this, all the startups received branded T-shirts and booth goodies created exclusively for them with their respective logos and brand identity.
Some of the startups that we supported include:
- Chatquery (chatquery.tech, Hong Kong)
- 3DSS (3dss.tech, Belgrade, Serbia)
- Doctor4Africa (doctor4africa.online, Nairobi, Kenya)
- Logica (logica.website, Sofia, Bulgaria)
- Snovian (snovian.space, Chernihiv, Ukraine)
- Vipfy (vipfy.store, Saarbrücken, Germany)
These and other startups were chosen by the Startup League through an online selection process which received applications from over 350 startups from across the world.
When starting out, few startups have a huge marketing budget. Why then, should they invest their limited funds in going to tech events and conferences instead of spending that money on advertising?
Skepticism is warranted. Financial costs of exhibiting at big tech events can be greater than the immediate fiscal benefits that it can provide. However, conferences such as Web Summit, TNW, Bits and Pretzels and more, strive to create collisions between startups, investors, media, and others so they can share insights and forge long-term beneficial relationships.
That said, quantifying this kind of outcome can be difficult. However, it is more than about spending money just to be present; it is also about having a solid plan for your exhibit to get the maximum value out of the event. Along with the financial cushioning, Startup League also assists startups in building a strategy that not only portrays them in the best light, but also helps them connect with prospective professionals in the same industry.
In fact, to ensure that we give startups the absolute best training, we recently went around 11 co-working spaces in Germany, Portugal, and the Netherlands and met over 100 founders talking and discussing strategies about how to make event marketing profitable for their startups.
Why should startups join the Startup League?
We all need a bit of support when we’re starting out. The main goal of the Startup League is to give startups the initial push they need to make it big. We have sponsored over 200 startups to exhibit at 30 plus events since 2016.
Two years since its formation, we now have a growing network of over 250 startups from 35 countries and a partner network of over 150 incubators, accelerators, coworking spaces like Beta-I, MindSpace, Rockstart, YES!Delft, Betahaus, and more. This gives the startups that are part of the program possibilities to find partners, clients and innovative technology to expand.
Apart from helping startups exhibit at events, we are constantly looking to add more benefits and strengthen our value proposition, and hope to expand the scope of our support very soon!
How does the Startup League support startups to exhibit at tech events and conferences such as Web Summit 2018?
We are constantly talking about the value that tech events and conferences provide to early-stage startups. Which is why all the startups that are part of the Startup League can get a reimbursement on their exhibitor fees at leading tech events from across the globe. TechCrunch Disrupt, Web Summit, Launch Fest, Collision, TOA Berlin… tell us which event you are going to, and we will bear at least 25% of your cost.
Having the right connections and networking is an essential part of building a strong startup. To better facilitate that, this year, the Startup League hosted its own networking event in Lisbon to aid the startups for bolstering global connections and get familiar with the community.
Which are some of the legendary startups that owe their success to tech events?
My favorite story is that of Uber! Over a pint in Bruxelles pub on Dublin’s Harry Street, investor Shervin Pishevar joined hands with American entrepreneur Travis Kalanick. Later that night, Pishevar signed a deal to invest $26.5 million in Kalanick’s ride-sharing startup Uber. That meeting took place during Web Summit in 2011.
Participating in these events has immense benefits. One of Startup League’s participant, Nu-rise.tech too, scored a seed capital investment of €100K by Caixa Capital. They were the PITCH semi-finalists of Web Summit 2016, who then went on to Mass Challenge Accelerator program in 2017.