Startup Events: Should I Stay or Should I Go?

First published on November 25, 2013 by Gilbert West. Context is important.

The Way We Work

I don’t really go to startup events any more and neither should you, probably. Here’s why. My customers and partners aren’t startups. And neither are yours probably.

Always have a reason for attending an event and ask yourself this question when attending an event. What’s in it for me and my company.

I sound like a bitter old grump, I know, I know. But attending events comes at a cost. It's often not a monetary cost, but it costs in terms of time, travel and fruitless follow-ups. Yes, it'll expand your LinkedIn network, yes it'll give you some exposure and you may bump into a journalist or investor. And yes, you'll look and feel busy. But after your first year of trawling around all the startups-for-startups events soaking up warm, positive vibes you have to stop and look around you. You know your pitch, you've honed it enough. People have opened up and given you some contacts. Some of them are even starting to think of your product as the one to recommend when Joe Bloggs asks about what they could use to solve problem X.

Standing with a glass of wine in your hand pitching to people interested in pitching just won't give you the same level of useful push back that you get from talking with customers. So cut down the number of startups-for-startups event that you attend, speak to the handful of customers you have and spend you freed up time on the phone speaking with new prospects.

Reject "busyism" and embrace a new kind of busy. The kind where your customers set a chunk of your agenda with their questions and demands.