How Founders Can Make the Most Out of Global Startup and Investor Events Useful tips for startups eager to take the next step in their growth journey.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
The last two years have been anything but business as usual. For founders and startups, raising funds required creativity, commitment to the process, and a willingness to be flexible. As we transition back to in-person events and opportunities to build relationships on the ground, that creativity and flexibility stand to benefit founders seeking funding in 2022. To support that effort, I've collected events and tips for startups eager to take the next step in their growth journey.
Upcoming events in 2022
May 27-June 3, 2022
This week-long festival in Vienna showcases the current trajectory and future opportunities in technology as represented by startups, investors, creatives and enthusiasts across the industry. From the INiTS START:IP Matching Day to FinTech Week and dozens of opportunities to network with leading investors and thought leaders in the space, ViennaUP is a must-visit for emerging startups and founders.
June 20-23, 2022
Dubbed "the Olympics of tech" by Politico, Collision is a massive tech conference bringing together nearly 1,000 investors and 1,250+ startups from 140 countries for four days of enlightening presentations, networking opportunities and engaging programming.
Global Investor Conference
May 18-19, 2022
Linqto is proud to present the Global Investor Conference in Lisbon, featuring 15 targeted panels featuring more than 50 industry experts across 10 hours of programming. Combining virtual and live engagement opportunities, the Global Investor Conference is designed to support Linqto customers with insights on the latest trends in private equity and venture capital investments. Drawing attendees from around the globe, GIC is a truly unique conference. The conference will have a virtual element for anyone interested to watch live and participate virtually. You can register here to attend the event virtually (free) or in-person at the Nova School of Business and Economics.
Why attend investor conferences?
These conferences bring together accredited investors from around the world to explore the explosive growth driving innovation and change. From the astronomical growth rate of crypto adoption (113% a year) and its impact on the financial system at large, to the implementation of digital-first approaches to traditional experiences, including the metaverse, NFTs and the rapid expansion and evolution of the Internet, these conferences will cover them all.
Today's startup founders are pragmatic at heart — building elegant solutions for real-world problems of scale, access and reliability. The resulting technology is changing how the world does business. Now, more than in recent years, it's time to get back out in person and make connections. Both investors and founders are eager to find that spark with potential partners that has been missing or watered down via video conferences these past two years. When you bring on an investor or a founder, it's like a marriage, and there is a lot to be said for having met the other party in person! It's also rare that the initial plan that is pitched at the investor stage is what ultimately goes to market. Investors are looking for partners and teams they can work with through the pivots and changes as they come.
Early-stage startups, new founders, or those who haven't attended a large number of in-person events since the onset of Covid-19, stand to gain the most from this wave of VC/PE events, but what should you focus on first? Here's how to make the most of investor events this year:
Knowing your selling points
At these events, you'll interact with accredited investors and innovators in the industry. Your revenue numbers might get you in the door, but what really captures attention and forms the foundation of a strong relationship is an understanding of your company's selling points. Can you clearly and concisely describe your vision? Are your first few hires accessible and representative of what makes your company unique? Do you have a clear sense of what your company is still missing that will help it grow and excel? These are the types of questions investors will ask you.
What's the story?
Building on this is the pitch you bring with you to these conferences. Have you practiced it carefully and shared it with friends and colleagues? Do you have an advisory board that can provide insights and suggestions for how best to present yourself to potential investors? More than anything, be prepared to show what makes your company legitimately unique while cutting away any fluff or filler that obfuscates the truth. Investors have these conversations dozens of times a day during a conference, and frankly, at a similar cadence throughout the year. They are very good at cutting through the noise of an over-polished pitch.
Know your audience
Before attending an event, know who else will be there and who is most likely to be interested in your pitch. A scattershot approach might seem more productive, but every conversation you have with an investor focused on a different vertical is one less you could be having with a potentially good fit. Before attending, review investor portfolios, spend time on LinkedIn profiles to get to know who you might engage with, and collect information you can use to schedule meetings and make introductions.
More than anything, come in with a specific set of goals and a plan for how to achieve them. What is the best possible outcome from the conference, and which people are you intent on meeting before it is over? Work backwards from these goals to establish a plan for effective outreach to prospects. A lot of this outreach can begin before the conference. Let investors you hope to meet with know you will be at the event, schedule a time if possible, and know what information they are most likely to ask for.
Ensuring positive outcomes
Attending investor-oriented conferences in your vertical, building relationships with VCs and other investors, and creating a clear plan for how to have those conversations can have a tremendous impact on your business. Come prepared, and engage with leaders across the industry who can make the next stage of your company's growth a reality.