Last week, the Impro team participated in Toronto’s Collision Conference. Collision is one of the largest technology conferences in the world, drawing over 35,000 attendees. Collision’s sister conference, the Lisbon-based Web Summit, is expected to bring in over 70,000 participants. For the Impro team, Collision was our debut conference. We came in confident, choosing Day 1 of the conference as the date for a major press release; we announced the closing of our 2.25 million dollar seed financing round.
In the days leading up to the conference, we received the news that Impro would have a booth on Day 3 of the event. Collision divides startups into 3 sections, based on investment funding, maturity, and size. We were placed in the most advanced category, Growth. However, we would still be competing against larger startups, with stronger financial backing.
After a hectic and successful week at Collision, I thought I would share some tips with you all; I hope you will learn something you can use to get the most out of one of the world’s largest technology conferences.
1. Getting Ready Part I: The Why
Being prepared means setting your goals in advance. In our case, despite our newly finished seed financing round, we deemed it appropriate to continue meeting with investors. Our strong position allowed us to lay the groundwork for future rounds of financing.
Collision is an ideal location for this; it brings in hundreds of investors interested in startups with high growth potential. Other established goals included but were not limited to: getting to know potential partners, spreading awareness of our brand, and lead generation.
2. Getting Ready Part II: Rebranding
As part of our preparation for the event, we decided to rebrand and launch a new website. We felt that our old website and logo did not accurately reflect the Impro brand. Collision proved to be the perfect opportunity for our rebranding.
To achieve this, Impro partnered with a branding team. We gave them a great deal of creative freedom, so long as the promotional materials were consistent with the themes and values of Impro. We printed team shirts, complete with our logo and a variety of custom designs. As a result, we found attendees were consistently hooked in by our display; our booth garnered consistently strong traffic throughout the day.
3. Learn what other companies do
On the days you are not presenting, take a tour of the conference and be open to learning from other companies. Find out what they do well, and what mistakes they make. We found it a useful practice to hear out the elevator pitch from several companies.
Our team members also attended lectures. The most important thing to remember is to pay attention to the audience, not just what is being said. Observe what captivates them, and what does not.
4. Visibility is vital
Do not underestimate the power of presentation. There are some simple and easy rules to follow here; do not eat or drink at your booth, do not scatter personal items around, and certainly do not stare at your phone. This will ensure your booth appears professional and engaging.
One problem you may face from the long day is fatigue. We solved this by bringing in a number of team members; this way, we could substitute people out and provide time for food and rest when needed. This kept our team members high-energy and engaged.
5. Bring in more than just the sales team
There is something powerful about letting a person who is not necessarily a salesperson try their hand at selling the product. I am a very introverted person in my daily life. My primary role as COO is to manage the inner workings of the organization, not sales and customer relations.
We found that bringing in team members from multiple departments brought a huge diversity of perspectives; this resulted in a more clear picture of who we are and what we do as a company. Those present included commercial, r&d, and methodology development. This allowed us to better answer specific questions about the product, as every base was covered.
6. Develop your network
While valuable, lectures should really be a secondary goal (and you can always watch them afterward on video). Focus on making connections and promoting your company. We encouraged our team members to connect with as many people as possible on Linkedin as well as the Collision app.
7. Use it as an opportunity for team building
For our primarily remote team, this was a tremendous opportunity to come together. Our team met each night after the conference for dinner, drinks, and Collision’s many after-hours events. Our team also spent the day together after the conference’s conclusion. Teams should always strive for a sense of community and family.
I hope you grasped something valuable from these insights. See you at the next conference!