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Events for Startups: 11 Top Picks and How to Prepare Before Attending
Startup events offer unique opportunities for learning, connecting with potential investors, and staying current with technological advancements and market needs.
Given the post-pandemic volatility of the startup world, events have become critical in shaping emerging businesses. This article delves into this vibrant world of startup-focused events, providing a comprehensive guide to the types, benefits, and must-attend gatherings in this dynamic space.
We explore why attending these events is critical to startup growth, the variety of offerings (from networking meetups to tech expos), and provide an insightful list of 11 top events worldwide you should consider attending. Finally, we’ll equip you with practical tips on how to maximize your experience at these summits so you’re well prepared to make the most of these opportunities.
For startup founders and enthusiasts, this article is a starting point for understanding and harnessing the power of startup events in your entrepreneurial journey.
In this article:
- Why attend events for startups?
- What types of events for startups are there?
- Top 11 events for startups
- How to get the most out of a startup event?
Why attend events for startups?
As a startup founder, immersing yourself in the startup ecosystem through various events can be a game-changer for you and your business.
Let’s explore why these events are not just beneficial but often essential. They are not just gatherings but breeding grounds for opportunity, learning, and growth. Think of them as an investment in both your personal development.
One of the main reasons to attend startup events is the unparalleled networking opportunities they provide. These events place you in a room full of your peers: other startup founders, experienced investors, and a variety of business professionals.
These interactions are invaluable. You’re not just exchanging business cards; you’re building relationships that can take your startup to new heights, including providing you with funding and mentorship opportunities.
Visibility is crucial for any startup. Industry events serve as a platform for you to showcase your business, not just to a local audience but often to a global one.
Meeting investors, media representatives, and all kinds of influential figures in the startup ecosystem can open doors to opportunities that would otherwise remain closed. This exposure is instrumental in attracting early users and carving out a market space.
The startup world moves at a blistering pace, with new trends and technologies emerging regularly. Attending startup events keeps you in the loop, allowing you to stay ahead of the curve.
Learning about the latest trends and technologies directly from industry leaders and peers can provide insights that are crucial for the strategic direction and innovation within your startup.
What types of events for startups are there?
In the dynamic world of startups, diverse events play a crucial role in growth, networking, and innovation. Understanding the variety of events available can help you strategically engage with the startup ecosystem. Let’s delve into some of the key types of events for startups:
- Networking events: These are essential for making connections and exploring opportunities. They act as social mixers for your career, allowing you to meet like-minded individuals and discuss potential collaborations or ideas.
- Training seminars: Aimed at professional development, these events enhance your business skills and provide insights into various aspects of running a startup. They are invaluable for learning and growth.
- Workshops: These focused sessions enable participants to hone specific skills. They often involve interactive elements and provide opportunities for networking while learning.
- Business and professional events: These encompass conferences, trade shows, and seminars, offering platforms for sharing knowledge, sparking innovative ideas, and forming potential partnerships. They are more than just gatherings; they’re catalysts for professional growth and networking.
- Tech shows and trade shows: These events showcase the latest in technology and industry trends, offering a chance to stay updated with market developments, meet potential investors, and understand the competitive landscape.
- Hackathons: These are collaborative coding events where programmers and others involved in software development collaborate intensively on software projects. They are excellent for fostering innovation and team-building.
- Demo days: These are events where startups present their business models, products, or services, often to a panel of investors. They are critical for gaining exposure, attracting funding, and receiving valuable feedback.
- Pitch competitions: Similar to demo days, these competitions involve startups presenting their business ideas to a panel, often competing for investment, prizes, or other forms of support.
The landscape of startup events is rich and varied, offering numerous opportunities for learning, networking, and showcasing your venture. Whether it’s through professional development in seminars and workshops, or through more informal networking at festivals and cultural events, there’s a multitude of ways for startup founders to engage and grow.
When speaking with founders, I’ve seen many of them mistakenly believe that bigger events always yield better outcomes. However, the key is to strategically choose events that align with your startup’s specific stage, industry focus, and long-term goals. By avoiding the common pitfall of spreading resources too thin across multiple, unfocused events, startups can instead invest in targeted gatherings where they can truly connect with the right people and gain relevant insights. CEO, ASPER BROTHERS Let's Talk
Top 11 events for startups
To help you get started, we’ve curated a list of 10 events for startups we find noteworthy.
Each of them presents unique opportunities for startups to grow, network, and gain visibility. Depending on your startup’s focus and stage, some events might be more beneficial than others. It’s always wise to follow up with more research on official event websites and select those that align best with your startup’s goals and needs.
Here’s a list of top 10 events for startups, each with its unique offerings:
#1 Startup Grind Global Conference
Official website: startupgrind.tech
Location: San Francisco, CA
The Startup Grind Global Conference (SGGC) is a premier event in the tech conference circuit, annually drawing a global community of over 4 million startups. Held in Silicon Valley, SGGC stands out for its focus on elevating lesser-known initiatives and connecting grassroots entrepreneurs with industry giants. The event is known for its high-profile speakers from top tech companies and offers exclusive opportunities for networking and pitching.
- Startup Exhibition Program: Participants receive a dedicated booth to spread awareness of their projects and a Quickfire slot for pitching to potential investors.
- Opportunities for lesser-known startups: The event focuses on putting smaller startups in the spotlight, offering them a stage to present their ideas and gain visibility.
- Networking with industry leaders: The event traditionally features speakers and attendees from major tech companies, offering invaluable insights and networking opportunities.
The SGGC provides an ideal platform for startups seeking visibility and networking opportunities with major industry players. The unique blend of showcasing emerging startups alongside established tech leaders makes this event a must-attend for those looking to make significant connections and gain industry insights.
#2 TechCrunch Disrupt
Official website: techcrunch.com/disrupt
Location: San Francisco, USA
TechCrunch Disrupt is a renowned three-day event, celebrated for over a decade as a hub for the latest in tech and startups. The event provides a platform for both industry titans and emerging startups to connect with a vast audience.
- Startup Battlefield 200 (SB200): A major highlight where 200 early-stage tech startups compete for a $100,000 equity-free prize. The competition covers diverse fields like Robotics, HealthTech, FinTech, and more.
- Roundtable discussions: These are 30-minute, expert-led sessions on various relevant topics, providing deep insights and learning opportunities.
- Networking app: A specially designed app for efficient networking, allowing attendees to schedule meetings and even arrange discussions at local restaurants.
TechCrunch Disrupt stands out for its Startup Battlefield, an intense competition that has historically helped startups raise significant funding. The event’s blend of high-profile speakers, diverse topics, and innovative networking opportunities make it a standout experience for startup founders
#3 World Summit AI Americas
Official website: americas.worldsummit.ai
Location: Montréal, Canada
World Summit AI Americas is a four-day event centered on AI, attracting a blend of scientists, entrepreneurs, developers, and investors. It’s known for addressing the latest topics in AI and fostering collaborations in the AI ecosystem.
- Startups Showcase: An opportunity for startups to pitch their ideas in an AI-focused environment.
- Diverse AI discussions: The event includes discussions on AI challenges and the latest use cases, offering a wealth of knowledge and inspiration.
- Networking with industry giants: Attendees can network with representatives from organizations like Google, NASA, and Apple.
- Interactive workshops and open discussions: These sessions facilitate deeper engagement and potential partnerships.
World Summit AI Americas is an invaluable event for startups in the AI space, offering a unique combination of pitching opportunities, learning experiences, and networking with top industry figures.
Official website: slush.org
Location: Helsinki, Finland
Slush is Europe’s leading tech conference, known for its founder-centric approach and commitment to supporting the global startup ecosystem. It’s recognized for being carbon-negative and for its substantial scale, attracting thousands of attendees, including founders, investors, and media representatives.
- High investor presence: Slush boasts a significant gathering of investors, with assets totaling over $1 trillion.
- Mentoring chambers: Offers private mentoring sessions with Builders’ Studio speakers, providing invaluable advice and insights.
- Venture Capital opportunities: The event is a hotbed for networking and securing funding due to the massive presence of venture capital groups.
Slush sets itself apart with its immense scale and focus on venture capital, making it an ideal event for startups seeking investment and high-level mentoring opportunities
#5 Oslo Innovation Week
Official website: oiw.no
Location: Oslo, Norway
Oslo Innovation Week is an eight-day event in Norway, comprising talks, panels, seminars, summits, and workshops. It’s one of Northern Europe’s major innovation conferences, focusing on scaling and sustainability.
- OIW 100 Pitches: A satellite competition powered by DNB, Norway’s largest financial group, where startups can showcase their business initiatives.
- Sustainability focus: Startups must present projects that contribute to at least one UN Sustainable Development Goal.
- Diversity: The event attracts a wide range of participants, including Norwegian and international startup ecosystem builders.
Oslo Innovation Week distinguishes itself with its extensive program and focus on sustainability, offering a broad platform for startups to present innovative solutions and engage in critical discussions about scaling and sustainability
Official website: latitude59.ee
Location: Tallinn, Estonia
Latitude59 is a prominent startup conference in Estonia, blending the atmosphere of a close-knit community with the dynamic of a global hub. The event’s agenda for 2023 focused on tech sector responses to global challenges, the importance of mental health, and the benefits of synergy and cooperation.
- Pitch competition: This competition supports and boosts the best startup initiatives, with a significant prize fund for investment.
- Demo area: Offers a space for startups to present their products to investors and customers.
- Global and local perspectives: The event features discussions on global issues like climate change and energy, while also focusing on local tech developments.
Latitude59 stands out for its intimate yet international atmosphere, providing a platform for startups to address contemporary global issues and showcase their solutions
#7 Tech.eu Summit
Official website: tech.eu
Location: Brussels, Belgium
The Tech.eu Summit is a one-day event that convenes some of the brightest minds in European technology. The summit’s previous focus included the metaverse, deep technology, NFTs, blockchain, and European IT sovereignty, with a key focus on sustainable development.
- Diversity: The summit attracts entrepreneurs, investors, politicians, scientists, journalists, and business leaders.
- Focus on sustainable development: Emphasizes learning about sustainable development, crucial for the future of technology and startups.
- Efficient format: Features short, 20-minute speeches, ensuring a dynamic and engaging learning environment.
The Tech.eu Summit is unique for its comprehensive coverage of current and future tech trends, especially in the context of sustainable development, making it a significant event for startups aligned with these themes
#8 London Tech Week
Official website: londontechweek.com
Location: London, UK
London Tech Week is a celebrated week-long festival and a pinnacle event in European technology. Marking its 10th anniversary, it focuses on innovation, diversity, and digital transformation, attracting a vast number of participants and speakers.
- Wide range of topics: Covers various areas of IT like web3, blockchain, and the metaverse.
- Diverse zones: Includes specialized areas like the Start-up Zone, featuring the Growth Stage, the NextTech Stage, and the Startup Marketplace.
- Influential speakers and supporters: Features influential figures and support from major companies like Microsoft and Amazon.
London Tech Week stands out for its large scale, diversity of topics, and inclusivity, making it a go-to event for startups seeking to immerse themselves in the latest tech trends and network with industry leaders.
Official website: hub.berlin
Location: Berlin, Germany
hub.berlin is a two-day event celebrated for its scale and dynamic atmosphere. It’s a convergence point for entrepreneurs, industry leaders, policymakers, researchers, and startup enthusiasts, focusing on digital transformation.
- Diverse topics: Covers sustainability, security, lifestyle, and emerging technologies.
- Impressive speaker lineup: Features prominent figures from major companies and governmental bodies.
- Networking opportunities: The event attracts thousands of attendees, offering abundant chances for networking and collaborations.
- Cultural integration: Includes side activities like digital arts exhibitions and afterparties with German techno music.
hub.berlin is notable for its comprehensive coverage of digital transformation topics and its blend of professional discussions with cultural activities, creating a unique and engaging experience for attendees
#10 World Startup Fest
Official website: wsfhub.org
Location: Rimini, Italy
World Startup Fest (WSF) is a three-day festival and a part of the larger We Make Future conference. It is acclaimed as a significant global event in digital innovation, attracting thousands of attendees, startups, and investors.
- Startup district: A space for startups to showcase their projects to visitors, including investors and industry leaders.
- Startup competition: Offers an opportunity to win a portion of the €3.3 million prize pool, enhancing visibility and potential funding.
- Extensive networking: Facilitates productive matchmaking and B2B meetings with investors.
- International roadshow: An additional event focusing on connecting founders and investors.
World Startup Fest is distinctive for its large-scale and comprehensive offerings for startups, from showcasing opportunities to competitive pitching and extensive networking.
Official website: infoshare.pl
Location: Warsaw, Poland
Infoshare is the largest tech and startup event in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). It has evolved from a modest gathering into a year-round celebration of technology, attracting professionals from various sectors. The event is dedicated to sharing practical knowledge, promoting technology, and fostering innovation.
- 9 thematic stages: The conference hosts world-class keynotes and discussions on the latest industry trends across multiple stages, each focusing on different aspects of technology and business.
- Matchmaking: Infoshare provides an online tool for attendees to find ideal business matches and facilitates meetings during the conference.
- Startup contest: A platform for startups to pitch innovative tech4good projects, competing for a €20,000 prize.
- Partners & Startups Expos: An exhibition area where attendees can learn about leading tech companies and emerging startups.
Infoshare uniquely combines a comprehensive range of tech and business topics, offering substantial speeches by leading experts and numerous networking opportunities. It’s a hub for technology and innovation, drawing thousands of participants annually.
How to get the most out of a startup event?
Maximizing the value of attending startup events involves strategic preparation and active engagement. Here’s how you can make the most out of these opportunities:
Maximizing the potential of startup events is crucial for founders. Here are some strategies to ensure you get the most out of these events:
Attending startup events can be a game changer for your venture, but it requires more than just showing up. Here’s how you can maximize your experience:
# Identify your goals for the event
Tailor your approach based on what you aim to achieve, whether it’s finding potential partners, attracting customers, or seeking new team members.
Each goal demands specific preparations, from setting up your stand to the materials and conversation topics you choose. Understanding what information is significant to the people you want to network with is crucial for effective engagement. To that end, we recommend our co-founder and investor guides.
If you’re planning on appearing on stage or participating in a pitch competition, you should of course learn the rules of pitching and designing a compelling pitch deck presentation.
# Digitalize your networking
Business cards are passé. For effective networking, embrace digital tools.
Keep your LinkedIn profile updated and use the app’s QR code for easy connection. Many startup events have their own apps that list attendees and the agenda and facilitate pre-event networking. Schedule a few meetings in advance, but leave room for spontaneous interactions.
# Make connections meaningful
You’re going to interact with a variety of people, from potential customers to industry peers. Make sure that you are ready to both share about your startup and listen to others, fostering connections that are genuine and go both ways. Also, offering tangible items like product samples or even branded merchandise can help create lasting impressions.
Ultimately, these relationships will become your most valuable assets, essential to overcoming a myriad of future challenges.
# Attend evening and side events
Networking extends beyond the main event. Evening and side events, like the “Night Summit” at Web Summit, offer more relaxed settings for networking.
Take advantage of these to continue building relationships in a casual atmosphere.
# Keep track of contacts and follow up
Organize the contacts you make, perhaps in a spreadsheet, noting details like names, companies, positions, and conversation highlights.
After the event, wait a few days before sending follow-up messages to avoid getting lost in the influx. Personalize each message to maintain the connection effectively.
Startup events serve not only as platforms for learning and networking but also as catalysts for innovation and collaboration.
With each conference, summit, and festival, what we’re really witnessing is the shaping of tomorrow’s tech and business landscapes.
For startup founders and enthusiasts, attending these events means staying connected to the very pulse of progress, where opportunities for growth, learning, and impactful connections are always on the horizon.
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