Alpha & Web Summit: What We Learned
Last April, on a whim, we applied to participate in the Alpha program at Web Summit. I had no idea what it would ultimately mean for us. But as a young tech company, I thought it would be a good process for us to go through, both to validate our product and to better articulate who we are as a company.
Less than 10% of companies who applied were accepted (1,900 of over 20k applicants). While it lit a fire under us to complete and ready our app, Interval Runner, for launch, I still wasn’t sure what it would mean for us to attend. A week after Web Summit has wrapped up, I can definitively say that participating in Web Summit has been a transformative experience for us.
Here are a few things we learned:
You need Waaaaaaaaay less paper than you think
After hours of reading Web Summit blogs, and other posts surrounding the event, we began compiling a list of what we’d need to bring. I was pretty proud that everything I thought we’d need was on one list or another- except for company flyers. So at the last minute I scrambled to have five thousand, (yes you read that right) flyers rush printed. We also had significant numbers of other paper giveaways printed.
The reality? We used barely any of it. I *hate* making financial and time mistakes. But sometimes the quickest way you learn is to go through that pain.
What we did use in abundance were our business cards. I am grateful I brought so many of those.
In the future? We’ll bring a small stack of additional information and a few promo pieces for those who are interested, and I’ll pack a second pair of shoes.
Keep an open mind & be flexible
Early on in our exhibition day, I had an unforgettable encounter with a gentleman who was highly critical of our presentation. It would have been easy to tell him to take a hike. Part of me wanted to. No one likes to be publicly criticized. BUT, we took his feedback to heart and completely modified our presentation and approach for the rest of the day. The result? The ensuing conversations were more productive, positive, and fruitful. Ultimately, I’m incredibly grateful for that one interaction.
While 40k people are a lot, they won’t all be by your booth
Having never attended any kind of tech conference before, we had no idea what to expect (hence the overabundance of paper). The reality is, even at a busy conference, you’ll likely have less than 100 interactions, and of those, 10 or less will be very important for you.
Don’t underestimate the serendipity of social gatherings
Two of the most important conversations we had were completely random- both at bars. And both happened because we were just being friendly. Always be prepared and always be open and friendly. You never know who is next to you!
Would we attend again? In a heartbeat. Participation in the Alpha program has put us on surer footing, and given us the confidence to aggressively work our plan.