Among the rising startups exhibiting at Web Summit 2019, meet GFG – furniture tech startup combining 3D, AR and AI into a robust sales tool. The enhanced ordering platform simplifies and grows sales for luxury furniture retailers. Vakoms is proud to be a tech partner of GFG presenting the idea in front of a global startup community.
Yaroslav Kizyma, the COO at GFG and Head of Business Development at Vakoms shares a fresh piece of advice on how to get the maximum benefit from the global tech conference and prepare for it.
1. What were your specific goals of attending Web Summit 2019?
— Web Summit is a very efficient way to build awareness for your startup among thousands of people from all over the world. Also, you can find new clients and meet investors – these are the main opportunities provided there.
As a furniture tech startup, we had a list of primary and secondary goals to achieve.
First of all, we had a demo booth booked in advance for the whole day that let us showcase our product to plenty of people. Lots of them were from furniture or real estate business, and they all were pretty excited about what they saw. We got some valuable feedback from them as well as a demonstration of high interest in the GFG product. Then, of course, we had a number of important meetings with potential clients and investors.
Secondly, a conference of that size helps you become more aware of the world tech trends and discover some state-of-the-art solutions in various domains. This year, we saw that everyone is going into AI. With GFG, we are also building a unique AI algorithm to provide users with perfect furniture and design recommendations for their homes. So we’re riding the wave in our unique way.
2. As a startup, how do you apply to showcase at Web Summit?
— The procedure is pretty simple. Find an application on the Web Summit website and answer a list of questions covering all the aspects of your startup (product or business). Then, you have a call with a Web Summit representative. That’s when you get the opportunity to pitch your idea at Web Summit. And then, you just sit and wait for an email like this:
While applying, try to be specific. Without going too deep into details of your product, show its main value. If not for the whole world, for your niche at least.
Also, make sure to apply (in some cases, it’s only required to tick a box) for all options you might need, like a demo booth or mentor hours.
3. How did you prepare for the conference?
— There’s a massive amount of work to be done in all possible directions.
- You need to polish your pitch by talking to various people e.g. your colleagues and editing the draft of your pitch dozens of times.
- You should also refine all of your presentation decks, papers, images, etc.
- One of the most important things. Look up who’s coming to Web Summit, analyze and try to understand whether this person might be useful for you. The best way to do that is via a Web Summit app: you get all the necessary info about that person and the possibility to contact. For example, we searched for potential clients and investors to arrange the meetings there. Keep looking for new connections and try to get in touch with them well in advance of the event.
- Prepare a nice video to leave it playing on the laptop when in the booth.
- Prepare all the marketing materials (flyers, gifts, etc). Use visuals and gamification to engage the audience and make your startup idea memorable. For instance, you can let the users play with your product or app to engage them.
- Launch a marketing campaign via social media, write articles, press releases for reputable resources. The idea is to create buzz around you, reach as much audience as you can and prepare a strong background for your pitch. Also, let your friends and clients know that you are coming.
4. What is the perfect team to attend the event with? Who did your team consist of?
— In my opinion, CEO and CTO/other co-founders have to be there to present a product properly and talk to investors. But actually, this doesn’t really matter for regular users. Just make sure to bring someone who speaks and engages people organically and makes them interested in the topic. At Web Summit, there were 3 of us presenting GFG: Andriy (CTO), Pavlo (co-founder), and me.
5. How to make people come to your booth?
— By inviting them, of course. Either through a Web Summit app or during other meetings/networking, emails, etc. Just tell them – ‘I’ll be there at booth No.A*** on a specific day. Come and try our product’.
The great thing about Web Summit is that your startup booth is placed in a dedicated area for your domain, where other startups are presented as well. Our stand was located in E-commerce and Retail section, and we got crowds of people around, getting really interested in what we were doing. They were asking about the possibility of integrating our solution into their business.
6. What do you do after the conference to get the most of it?
— Write follow-ups to all the people you spoke to and got contacts from, analyze a bunch of business cards brought from the conference. At the end of the day, the main task is to bring as many contacts as you can. Also, keep your lessons learned in mind or documented as they will help you to prepare for the next year’s event.
7. What key piece of advice would you give to startups planning to exhibit their ideas at Web Summit 2020?
— Prepare well and make contacts. Talk to people before the conference, during it and afterward. Do not forget to ask for business cards and make some notes. Even if the person looks like a total mismatch, you just never know how things turn out in the future. So keep it.