Pirate summit AKA the burning man of startups was pure fun and actually lead to a reasonable amount of good connections. Recommended, but go there with the right relaxed attitude.

We just went through all our old blog posts and reports we have written for various stakeholders since we started in spring 2017. It was great to recap, see the vision and dreams we had and reflect where we are now.

Usually, in the hassle of neverending to-do lists, it is easy to forget where you actually are. We have done occasional small pivots since we started and we still haven’t reached some of the early milestones we set for ourselves. However, we have achieved a lot, we have grown as a team, our product is working and getting better every day, and the first sales have happened.

One thing that has taken a significant share of our time has been various events. Balancing between the urge of widening networks and the fact that our product has to be developed, tested, iterated, is not easy.  

We were lucky to be invited to present at the MINDS Conference. A short but meaningful opportunity to meet with news agencies from around the world.

So how should one deal with all the events that start pouring down on you? Suddenly they all seem to be the most important opportunity that will make a difference for your business. The actual reality is that most of the events might be fun and entertaining but don’t carry your business forward. How can you know what events are essential for you? What is meaningful for your product? Where will you meet the right people and who are actually the right people? And when is the right time?

At the beginning  Marina, being new to the startup/tech scene, wanted to see how all of these events were. It was about getting to know people and finding out how things work. Web Summit and Slush are good examples of huge conferences that carry startup energy that is great to experience and good for networking with other startups. However, they have not really been so significant for growing our business.

Pitching at a Slush side event turned out to be very good for us, although we could have attended that without a Slush ticket as well.

What is a good event then? Is it the one that had sun and great parties or the grey industry event indoors? In the end, the best measure for that is how many meaningful relationships did you get from them. With a relationship I mean something more than a connection lost in the depths of LinkedIn. Something that will in the end maybe bring you sales, co-operation, something that takes you forward. 

When you start planning your events, remember to reserve time, beforehand and after, to arrange meetings and to follow up on leads. The biggest lesson we have learned is that it just does not make sense to go to an event if you don’t have the time or resources to do it properly.

No one on the outside can truly know what is best for you and what is not. For us, one of the best events was an event many people said we should not go to, due to it being an old-fashioned industry event and that is precisely what it was. But in the end, it seems to have taken our business forward the most.

Ilkka took part in the Young Transatlantic Innovation Leaders Initiative Fellowship program, an exchange program organized by the US Department of State. Applications for the year 2019 fellowship are open until January 11th at http://www.gmfus.org/ytili-fellowship

Remember that whatever events you end up going to, be open-minded, have fun and write notes. So many things will be happening that you will forget otherwise. Building relationships is much more than meeting once, it is the repetition of small encounters that slowly build the story. Just be patient.


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