The great thing about going to international start-up events is the range of people you get to meet, both from that particular country, and from the rest of the world too. We recently attended TechChill and Riga Venture Summit, both in Latvia, with both aimed to support and promote the local start-up scene. At the same time, to help inspire these start-ups the organisers curated a range of globally relevant and interesting thought leaders. Going to smaller events, around 1,000 people, (rather than the mega numbers of some global tech meetups), the opportunity to meet influential, smart and insightful people is higher. One other tip, if you can get a speaker or media pass do so, your ability to access these people is much easier.
“Do what you do well, focus on that, and don’t go off chasing other things, just because other people are doing them”
Mike Butcher, Editor at large, TechCrunch, 8.3 million followers on Twitter
We were delighted to have some time with the extremely busy globe hopping Mike Butcher, who has been a major part of the rise of TechCrunch from a small tech blog, to a global media company. We spoke to him about his latest initiative, TechFugees, which aims to leverage tech wisdom and abilities to achieve wider social good. After covering this inspiring and worthwhile project, we also wanted to make the most of the opportunity to learn from someone with such great experience. His key tips were “know what you want to do, and execute on it, know what is right for you, and what is not”. He explained that TechCrunch has a clear idea of what stories are right for them, and which areas are not. We also asked him how you make money from becoming a globally known brand. Mike explained “for TechCrunch it is delivering quality events, with no ads, and high quality thought leaders, delivering useful and informative insights”. For any business, it is vital that you are asking yourself this question, and that you know what is the right answer for you.
Next up we spoke to Peter Halacsy, the CTO and cofounder of Prezi, the presentation company who have now grown from three founders to over 270 staff, and several major series of multibillion-dollar funding investments since 2008. On the Prezi website, it declares that it was founded in Hungry and San Francisco in 2009 right from the very beginning. We asked Peter about this “from the very start we knew that we had to be in the US. It is the centre of global communication tools and we knew that we needed to be there”. This proactive step from the very beginning played a major part in the subsequent growth of the company from three cofounders to a company now of around 250 employees. This illustrates that the more of a clear idea you have about what is the right market for your product, from the very beginning, the easier it will be to focus all of your subsequent strategy. For Prezi it clearly worked out well as the company continues to grow and go from strength to strength.
Mai second from left, you may recognise some of the other speakers too
Finally, we then spoke to Mai Medhat, Egyptian founder of Eventtus, who has now relocated her business to Dubai to help it to continue to scale and grow. Knowing where the best place to be is very important, and was something that Mai had to make a decision about very soon in her company’s history.
“For us it made complete sense, Dubai is a regional, if not global hub for events, so it was the best place for our business to continue it’s growth”. Medhat also explained that with each event that her event app is used for “we use the opportunity to iterate and try out new features, this way we are constantly learning and developing the product, with A/B testing and user feedback to ensure we make the product better and better”.
With all three entrepreneurs that we spoke to, they were open about their successes and failures, and with a willingness to share insights about their journey. Whenever possible it makes sense to learn from dynamic people like this who understand the experience of trying to grow a business, and are often generous and open in sharing these insights with others too. They were all helpful in their own way and are people to watch and look out for as sources of advice and inspiration, while at the same time making sure that you take the decisions that are best for your own company too.