Is it worth to have a startup demo table at Geek’n'Rolla?
Too bad we at Injoit have found out late about the Geek’n'Rolla 2010 taking place in London. Too late to apply for startup pitches! As our mob1serv universal SaaS server solutions platform for iPhone / iPad / Android was certainly eligible and might have be of interest for VCs!
But we have decided to participate anyway, thankfully there was an option of paid startup demo table for 400 GBP which might be a bit pricey for startups but many people think it’s cheap for an event of such kind.
So is it worth to have a paid table at #gknr?
Well, the tables are situated around the dining / meeting area. This year it was a large hall, a place where people would come to refresh with snacks and drinks, to network and mingle. These are short breaks between series of lectures. All in all, the event is not concentrated around your tables. So you get less attention than, say, at Internet World e.g. exhibition type events, where everything is around expositions.
I have talked to most of the ‘table owners’ during and after the event and asked them about how they find the activity and level of interest etc and they said it was alright and some good interest but obviously everybody was hoping for more.
Still I think that is VERY GOOD about Geek’n'Rolla that it is concentrated on content, on lectures and presentations first. And I was really surprised with the quality actually. EVERY single presentation was interesting, inspiring and packed with lots of useful info. I was taking lots of notes. So first advice, people, DO TAKE NOTES during Geek’n'Rolla, you won’t get such kind of information anywhere. I’ll tell in the end of this post how important this is.
So back to tables, in fact I really appreciate how everything was organized and indeed those contacts we had out our tables or elsewhere were the high quality ones. I had a pile of business cards after event (including after-party which is important too! ) but unlike many other events, you do actually remember who those people were and they are all real leads to potential partnerships / projects and you can really bring something useful to each other. So I dare say that Geek’n'Rolla leaves a pleasant aftertaste.
Unlike many other events. I’m just back from Internet World 2010 today and it’s crap. Sales on sales. Sharks trying to eat each other. Not much useful content. Still there are great people there, few good presentations but the whole format is just so wrong, so commercial and not really working from what I could see.
Now, here is some practical advice for those who’s going to set up a demo table at next year’s Geek’n'Rolla or similar event. So,
PRACTICAL ADVICE FOR SETTING UP YOUR TABLE AT GEEK’N'ROLLA
- hire a large monitor — there was this proposal from Park Plaza Westminster hotel, the venue for the event, to hire a monitor from them for something like 55 pounds, I thought no way, I’m bringing my own one! And so did most of exhibitors, some of them didn’t have any monitors at all! But the Hungarian guys decided to hell with it, not all the way from Budapest so they were the only ones who had this large monitor on a long stand. So it was a huge monitor and they were my neighbors in terms of tables and I was a bit envy comparing my 24 inch one with theirs colossus and what effect it has on visitors. Not sure if this is something Freudish but the large monitor is a real magnet!
- have nice print outs and put some suggestions in large big letters — there are many geeks (surprise, surprise!) at Geek’n'Rolla so they might be a bit shy to take your leaflets, or as in my case I could see people were taking one of the leaflets not realizing they are different. I had 2 A4 sheets with pen-written “FOR DEVELOPERS” and “FOR BUSINESSES” but that didn’t work. Make sure you print explanations in big letters and also might be a good idea to print some suggestive “PLEASE GRAB A COPY” or something like that.
- only few slides in your presentation — I was kinda expecting that people won’t be spending hours near our table so cut the original 20 slide presentation to 6 slides. Now I realize it was still too much, I would probably keep only 3 of them and put less text there. General experience that people would first look at your banner, than at your leaflets and then talk to you or leave, presentation is more like a background and nobody is going to watch it.
- banner does work — while the presentation doesn’t work much, only monitor size matters , I’ve found out that BANNER DOES WORK. Banner is something people will see from the distance and it really helps. Again, some people didn’t have banners at all and some had banners bigger than mine. Same thing as with monitor, it might look huge in office / at home, but becomes smaller at Geek’n'Rolla Anyway, banner helps a lot so make sure you put some nice graphics and large keywords on it. Keywords matter, as one visitor to our table said, he has noticed the ‘Android’ keyword and — click — he is here.
- have 2 or more representatives — having a table allows 2 people to attend and you should definitely come in big numbers if you can as time for networking is limited and sometimes there are more than one people coming and asking different questions and also it is worth not only to stay near the table but also to browser around and mingle with potential partners and VCs. There isn’t much of Injoit team in London at the moment but I had Xavier, our business partner, helping me with the table and attracting some people with his sales skills. But if you have a chance, do bring more people to the event, just don’t be all in one place, use the opportunity to mingle and meet people. There are many great people and VCs at Geek’n'Rolla but people are scattered and you can’t be in many places simultaneously. Luckily and thanks to volcano I was able to attend Office Hours event with Chris Fralic the other day. There is no way I would have been able to talk to him at Geek’n'Rolla just because there was so much interesting happing and so many people to talk to (and of course VCs got more attention as well).
So one more advice:
visit many events, talk to VCs and your fellow startup people, explore possibilities, don’t be shy, be proactive and be in love with what you’re doing!
P.S.: I promised to tell why it is important to take notes during the event. Well, all lecturers/presenters including VCs were giving out lots of useful information you won’t typically find anywhere. I could see some people still switching to ‘lecture’ mode and being in kind of trance but if you understand what’s going on you would be typing/writing like crazy. For example both Chris Fralic and Morten Lund have provided their direct phone numbers. And I know it’s not fake because I was able to communicate to Morten personally because of that!
Luckily Bambuser have been recoding all the pitches and presentations so you still have a chance after reading this post to enjoy a great deal of quality content which made the day. I especially recommend the presentation of Morten Lund. It equals to a good doze of whatever you use.
— written by Taras Filatov,
managing director to Injoit.