At the WomenWhoTech event in Paris I was asked: “How often do you go pitch at events like these; every week?” – and, because my face always shows everything…, it became very clear how astonished I was by this assumption.
“Noooo – I wouldn’t have the time, but I really wanted to be part of this.”*
“So, why did you want to be part of this particular event?” — for sure I didn’t know in advance what a stunning location it would be.
I am a woman in tech. It’s that simple. I love meeting other women in tech, especially if they are founders too. I come from male-dominated fields, so generally speaking my professional network has always been primarily male — and I appreciate the change. A like-minded group of women gives you a totally different experience than when you are in a mixed or more often male-dominated group. And the lasting (and growing) network of fellow female founders that keep supporting and cheering each other is simply amazing. I must admit: I didn’t think so before, but then I experienced it. I recommend trying it.
But of course there is a bit more to it:
WomenWhoTech is highly established, supported by amazing partners like Mozilla, Techstars and local initiatives like starther. Allyson, who is the founder of WomenWhoTech, is super dedicated and provides help where she can. It just is one of the big events in the world for women in tech — so it is definitely the place you want to be.
Curiously enough, the same evening I was asked by a fellow founder, how to figure out which events to pitch at / attend. That’s a tricky one.
Generally, we only go when we give a talk, are pitching or otherwise invited.
We usually prefer to go where our users / customers are, like e.g. Droidcon.
We set clear goals for attending an event (and winning a pitching competitionis NOT one of them).
We are very cautious to go events and really think about, if we think this is the best way to spend that time.
Obviously, you never know if it is going to “pay off” in advance, but:
I find, the more events I attend, the more luck I seem to have. 😉
Startup Sesame is a one-of-a-kind program that connects European founders to European event organizers, bringing startups to amazing events throughout the year. While the exposure to events is great on its own, what’s even better is the network, on-site intros and especially the team behind it: Ben Costantin and his crew (@startupsesame).
Why Startup Sesame?
As a startup, you usually cannot afford to go to many conferences; however, a well-planned event can give you media exposure, great connections, sales leads, new ideas and generally provides you with learning opportunities along the value creation chain of your startup (from customer experience, networking, to closing a deal). It also gives you a great “reason for reaching out”. Yet, filtering out tons of events and which to attend, researching and planning the event in advance, and then performing on site and catching up with everything afterwards is a lot of work. Having a partner like Startup Sesame that helps you navigate that jungle, getting in touch with people on site, and last but not least with the financial costs, is invaluable. Even more, Startup Sesame not only sponsors most event tickets, they also provide additional opportunities to make use of the occasion like e.g. competing in the pitching competition, having a booth.
Then during the weekend, you get educated about the current startup ecosystem, the events, trends and most importantly the opportunity to pitch and get feedback on your pitch.
This weekend allows the Sesame team and the startup organizers to get to know you and your business. This way, they can learn how to best help you and make unique recommendations on events and competitions to apply to. It also gives you the opportunity to understand what VCs and event organizers are looking for in startup competitions and on-stage talks, which events make sense for you, and how to go about these opportunities to really make use of them for the business. It also helps you refine your pitch.
After the weekend, you receive additional feedback and mentoring and then, during the following year you are presented (actively!) with event opportunities that match your startup and personality. Also, they assign #rockstar #mentors to you that help you make the most out of your event attention on site.
Every year is organized differently. In our 2018 cohorte the setting was special: We were spending the time all together in shared rooms in a youth hostel at the Valencian beach. Food and coffee was a bit restricted, so we all needed to share and pay attention to each other’s needs. This brought the cohorte closer together than I think would usually have been the case (also great for the more introvert people… :D).
Who is Ben?
Ben is the founder and leader of Startup Sesame. Ben’s superpower is connecting people, or rather the right people; people who can benefit from being connected. Ben has a big heart, is very kind, and I believe he truly enjoys helping founders — and this really is what shapes the spirit of Startup Sesame. I am grateful to be part of the Startup Sesame Family (#proudsesamer).
Is it worthwhile?
For ObjectBox the answer is Yes. Once the next applications open I can only encourage you to apply. Just one word of warning: They give you tons of opportunities and in all likelihood, you can’t handle them all. E.g.: We needed to be very selective due to time constraints and it was/is hard to see many great opportunities pass by unused. However, you can check out what the #proudsesamer of 2018 have achieved in the last months on @startupsesame — it’s impressive and entertaining. 😊
These are the kind of events that you can attend as part of Startup Sesame. It was a great experience and lots of fun, but also added great value to our fundraising.
Or, if you are at dmexco 2018 or SaaStock 2018, you can join my talk on Open Source and Edge Computing. We can meet up there too 🙂