How to squeeze the most value from startup conferences as a founder

This year our editorial team attended the Slush - startup conference in Helsinki where founders who are actively fundraising meet with investors to pitch their companies.

Opinions on attending such conferences are polarizing among founders. Some say they are a waste of your time which you should rather spend building your company, others, however, had great success establishing important relationships with new investors and clients at these conferences. The truth is as always somewhere in the middle, with intentional preparation, you can get a lot of value from attending the right conference. 

Macromo founders Eva Kuttichova and Petr Stepanek pitched their startup at Slush and shared with us their tips on how to prepare and squeeze the most value from Slush.

Start your preparation early

Understanding the magnitude of Slush, we began our preparations four months in advance. Because is big conferences like this one, there are limited spots in almost every event. Our goal was to leverage every opportunity Slush had to offer. From Slush 100 to Startup Showcase and Startup booths, we ensured Macromo had a ubiquitous presence. This strategy wasn’t just about visibility; it was about immersing ourselves in the ecosystem and maximizing our engagement with other innovative minds.

Go after High-Profile Media representants

At Slush you can stumble upon journalists from global media outlets but we didn’t fully rely on the serendipity. Our proactive engagement with the Slush team yielded exciting opportunities. Simple exchanges of emails and a Zoom call with the organizers opened the doors to media interviews with leading publications like Wired and Business Insider. Asking is for free. Don’t hesitate to ask organizers for everything you want. Generally, they want to make your attendance successful so you come back next year.

Pre-schedule your meeting

The biggest value of the conference is the people it attracts. Prescheduling meetings with key individuals ahead of time was a critical part of our strategy. Having these meetings set helped us justify the investment (time and money to attend Slush)  However, some of the most impactful connections were those we stumbled upon unexpectedly.

Most of the value comes from side events

Helsinki was teeming with side events, each offering unique experiences. Smaller side events enable you to get to know new people in a more intimate circle. A memorable moment was the elevator pitch session in the Kone building—a challenging yet thrilling experience. Additionally, presenting at the Tokyo Pitch Night enabled us to connect with Nordic Ninja, a key player in Asia’s Series A funding landscape.

Travel Tip for Future Slush-Goers

For those planning to attend Slush in the future, here’s a tip: stay close to the venue. Although Helsinki boasts an efficient public transport system, proximity to the event can save precious time. Remember, every moment at Slush is an opportunity to network, even in the most unexpected places like the cloakroom queue! The best place to stay is definitely Holiday In.

Eva Kuttichova,

Macromo,

eva@macromo.com

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