Last week our Tengu team headed to Collision Conference, the fastest growing tech conference in the US according to Forbes. Next to the fact that we've enjoyed the three sunny, jazz-filled Conference days a lot, we're able to meet about 24,638 attendees from over 120 countries. A bunch of potential interesting startups, investors, media and key tech influencers to connect with. But what have we learned from all those people? Let's have a look!
The keynote learnings
The three of us splitted up to get the most insights to visit as much speakers and debates as possible. Every stage had a relevant theme, from Autotech to Panda Conf (marketing) and from FullSTK (developing) to Planet:tech, and were all approached in a tech way. One of the first and quite stunning observations was that every tech talk was built around the topic of data. When experts in their field were talking about preparing their sector - going from agriculture, to marketing and health - for the future, the first and most important subject they discussed was data. And then of course all the challenges and concerns around that topic. GDPR, by the way, is something that is viewed in a much more positive way in America. Mainly because the American companies are more aware of the far-reaching effects of the already embedded dataflows in peoples every day lives. So they want to be sure they play by the rules (#security) and of course, shape the rules. Of course, we already knew data is the new gold. But let's say we were happily surprised to hear that the world and all their sectors are sharing our vision.
The second learning is more a kind of stimulator: "If you want to survive as a SaaS company, then you have to internationalize". Moving abroad fast is becoming a serious advantage in densed startup spheres. Everywhere in the world, starting up a company becomes easier and easier. Scaling one, however, requires more and more efforts. Let's say, we found the US a good market te find traction. Maybe, this is even the very start of our international adventure.
If we can share one more keynote take away, let it be the integration of open source in commercial business. Using open source doesn't mean 'giving it all away for free' anymore, as it may be perceived in the beginning days. It also mean having a pair of extra eyeballs on your product, code or even employment contracts. Have you already looked at open source in this way?
Our Booth learnings - Yes we were one of the chosen ones ;-)
People attract people. Making a mark as one of the hundreds of startups with a modest budget is not the easiest thing. But that doesn’t mean you can't try to get the most of it. Like winning a competition and getting a Pepper Robot at our booth (thanks Soft Bank Robotics). Having a sympathetic robotic assistant helps to stand out and seamlessly making the link with automation. Big Data Automation. Our product Tengu. Next to the tons of feedback we got, during the day we became better in adaping our pitch for a conversation with different personalities and giving everyone attention at the crowed moments. Another cool thing about having a Collision booth is that you meet a lot of like-minded technical people, who give you other interesting insights. When we met Justin from IBM for example, he could tell us about the origins of Nodered, one of te open source technologies we support on Tengu. Pretty nice to know.
Creating buzz by tweeting along the way and making out of the box promo:
it all helped us to get in touch with people at our booth. We figured out as soon as possible after the booth day who to contact immediately, and who to follow-up on a bit later. Going through all of our collected contacts helped us to structure our next steps.
The well-designed Collision app made it a pleasure to plan meetings, also from beforehand. Since Collision has become a gathering of the VCs and angels fuelling tech’s most influential companies, we used the list of participants wisely. In that way, we had the chance to speak with several investment funds and investors, but we also received some profound technical product feedback from an Amazon expert coach. As we knew, no silver bullet exists. That's one of the reasons why we will probably shift from a high level generic platform to a more understandable product.
Collision, you were great! You offered us a lot of opportunities, which we grasped with both hands. Now it's time for some follow-up meetings and business tweaks. See you next year in Toronto, or maybe even sooner in the United States!
If you want to share any of your learnings from Collision, you're very welcome!