Deskree Studio as a part of the Collision Conference 2019 in Toronto
It has been a week since our team has participated in the Collision Conference, but the excitement and start-up spirit are still in the air! In this article, I will describe why I believe that it is a MUST-ATTEND event for any start-up or IT-related company today, and talk about our experience of presenting Sir WineBot at the Collision.
Collision Conference Explained
First of all, what is Collision?! Collision is the fastest growing conference dedicated to start-ups and tech in North America with over 25,000 attendees. It is a part of a larger network of events, such RISE in Hong-Kong, and Web Summit in Lisbon. It is the first year Collision Conference happened in Toronto, and Canada in general. So, the whole maple syrup country got very excited - from Justin Trudeau & Seth Rogen who were opening the night, to different Canadian companies and start-up incubators.
But what's so special about it???
Well, there are 3 things that in my opinion are unique for this kind of show and both startups and more classic companies can benefit from.
1. Next Level of Networking
When we think on networking the first feeling that comes to the minds of many (myself included) is awkwardness. After attending dozens of events over the last few years I can confidently say that it is not the case with the Collision.
First of all, if you are one of the exhibitors on the event, you get access to the event app, which not only shows the map of the venue (as in most of the cases), but it gives you an ability to message ANY attendee, speaker, investor, company, media, or partner directly! (P.S: yes you could message Seth Rogen) Despite a unique opportunity to find necessary prospects, schedule a meeting, and engage with them at the show, it also destroys the brick wall that is usually present between high-level attendees and everybody else. And that is so much in the start-up spirit!
Secondly, the whole spirit of the event (music, talks, exhibitors) guides you and engages you into the atmosphere where you feel comfortable to relax and showcase your excitement about what you do and learn more from the others. This might sound too philosophical, but it is exactly the feeling all of us described after and during the event.
2. Great Exposure no matter the company size
I have to be honest because the amount of exposure you get heavily depends on the effort you put in. However, quite often small vendors on the conferences tend to be lost in the shadows of those who put up larger budgets. In contrast, Collision mainly highlights the start-ups and does more than everything to help them succeed at the show, which contradicts the idea of "pay more to get more", but gives a unique chance for younger companies to get the exposure they deserve.
It is important to mention that not every start-up will get accepted and the competition is very fierce. Out of the thousands of applicants, only a couple hundred are given a chance to present and we were very happy that Sir WineBot became one of them.
3. Learn directly from people you read about in the news
Another unique aspect of the Collision is the number of celebrities that come to the event to share their experience and knowledge with the audience and to walk around the floor to talk with attendees. The names on the list were mind-blowing: Ev Williams (CEO, Medium), Timbaland (Artist), Ryan Holmes (Founder, Hootsuite), Michael Siebel (CEO, Y Combinator), Tobias Lutke (CEO ,Shopify), and hundreds of others. Every minute there was a talk going on where one of the world's leaders would talk about the challenges they've faced and answered the audience's questions.
One of the best lessons that we learned during the event was from the Fabrice Grinda, co-founder of OLX and super angel who is ranked Forbes #1 on the investment volume and number of exits. We had a great pleasure to play a round of tennis together and gather his opinion on the investment process for start-ups and his vision of successful marketplaces.
Let's put it short:
If you want to get answer to any of your questions about the business, marketing, development, growth, etc. - you can get all the answers during just 3 days by attending the event. And the answer you'll get are from the people who have made their companies billions of dollars by knowing those answers very well.
Sir WineBot's Branding Success
Sir WineBot is one of the pilot projects of Deskree Studio. It is a personal digital sommelier with a unique sense of humor that tells you everything about the wine and can pair it with food and movies. Currently, the application is available on Slack and will soon be accessible on Google Home, Alexa, Facebook, and many other places! Only during the last month, we have more than 4,000 users combined in registered workspaces. Among those are companies like IBM, 43North, TELUS, and others. We attribute a lot of this success to our performance at the Collision.
It is hard to treat Collision as an ordinary trade show both because of its unconventional format and even more unconventional attendees. However, the main principle of any trade show, conference, or presentation still strongly applies here: You Must Be Seen in Order To Be Heard. And I am very proud of the work that our team has done to make this rule apply to us. I believe that there are 3 main points that positively influenced our results:
1. Eye-catching Design & Intriguing Naming
During our 3 days of presentation, our team has talked to over 1,000 people and all of them came to our booth voluntarily. This process has usually happened in the following sequence:
- People saw a large yellow logo that immediately grabbed their attention
- The name "Sir WineBot" would make them smile and curious: "What a heck is Sir WineBot?"
That was exactly the goal of our branding campaign - to make our product noticeable and curious for people and make them smile as soon as they see the naming. This unique product positioning has initiated a lot of meaningful discussions that now, after the Collision, are turning into clients partnership, or investment opportunities for the company.
2. Desired merchandise
Another factor that played an important role in attracting people was merchandise. Instead of traditional pens and T-shirts that you can find at almost every booth, we asked ourselves: "What is something that people would genuinely like to bring back home with them?".
As a result, we had many interesting giveaways at a pretty standard budget: from stress-relieving wine bottles to coasters with flowers seeds that can be planted. We used this merchandise to both attract people to the stand (which even initiated a small fight for the last few wine bottles) but also used it as a reward for people who installed WineBot app on the stand.
3. Polished Pitches & Storytelling
After people are attracted to the booth by either a great and eye-catching branding or through interesting merchandise, it is crucial to tell them something that will spark their interest in your product even more and it is hard to master it without prior preparation.
One of the most interesting and time-consuming parts of our preparation for the Collision was not the design or organizational processes, it was our preparation for pitching, which went pretty smooth for our Sales & Marketing departments, but was quite challenging for the development team.
Initially, we've prepared pitches of different lengths (7, 30, 60, 300 seconds) and topics (product overview, monetization strategy, naming, etc.). This has helped us a lot in structuring all our knowledge about the product in order to present it in small sequential pieces that can be easily understood by a person who sees it for the very first time. Moreover, it has also prepared us to answer different questions that we didn't anticipate in the preparation phase.
Finally, together with the team, we went off over different presentation techniques that helped some of our members relax and present the product more naturally and without being too nervous about the fact that there will be hundreds of people stopping by to learn more about the product.
Collision is a great place for any company to seek new opportunities no matter how big or small the company is. It is a unique event that makes you dive into the startup atmosphere and inspires you to continue pursuing your venture. Finally, it might be the only place on the planet where you can hear success and failure stories directly from people who've done it pretty well - from billion dollar companies' CEOs to the world's most influential investors and media.
With the help of a great branding move and unique product positioning, our project Sir WineBot was very well welcomed at the show, which resulted in many opportunities for our company. We were very proud to participate in the event and will be regular attendees from now on.