With the advent of technology and the rise of crowdfunding platforms, the start-up scene is booming — in Europe alone the sector accounts for 828,982 companies that employ 4.52m people, and they’ve received €36bn worth of funding. This has made way for a plethora of events for those that play in the sector, as they increasingly look for places to not only meet with investors, but gain expert advice and insight on how they can best transform their ideas into viable and importantly — unique business models.
This was particularly evident at 4 Years from Now (4YFN), an initiative from the GSMA which takes place alongside its flagship Mobile World Congress (MWC) Barcelona event. Here, an entire hall of the Fira Montjuïc is dedicated to start-ups, allowing them to pitch their ideas to potential investors with the ultimate aim of securing partnerships with them. There are a number of other events that provide start-ups with a platform to pitch their ideas too, including Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal and London Tech Week.
These events attract attendees in their droves and they are no doubt on the rise — but what is it that makes them so successful?
Take a walk in their shoes, and tap into their needs
Start-ups are always on the look-out for solutions that will accelerate them in the marketplace, enable them to grow their businesses and secure investment from external parties, and it’s key we create experiences that tap into these wants and needs. The most successful events include curated sessions that are full of actionable tips and tricks, and provide them with the tools they need to create a strong brand narrative that can be shared with potential investors. If these entrepreneurs are able to communicate their brand story in an attractive way, it’s more likely they will stand out from the crowd.
At 4YFN this year the organisers introduced a series where those who have benefitted from the initiative spoke about their experiences, offering first-hand accounts and advice to emerging start-ups — incredibly valuable information that they could apply to their own businesses. Topics such as sustainability and recruitment for start-ups were also covered, and the dedicated Women4Tech stream delved into gender equality and diversity as it relates to the start-up community. Furthermore, in 2016 London Tech Week launched its first Academy, where participants could take part in a five-day learning experience focused on all things innovation at the Academy by Google.
Adapting your message or offering to suit
Despite these events being aimed at start-ups and investors, big name brands are increasingly getting involved in them, too. As the community has grown, so too have the products and services that are available to it. The most successful brands, despite their size, will often take a more pared back approach to their stand design, such as the sleek, double decker space from Cisco at Web Summit, and ensure their spaces include offerings that are relevant and useful to delegates. It was interesting to see established companies supporting 4YFN too, with the likes of Google for Entrepreneurs, Microsoft and Telefonica all choosing to exhibit and showcase their start-up relevant products at the event, while also activating their presence for other audiences at the nearby MWC.
It’s clear that when we achieve the right mix of fresh ideas, emerging and established brands, and a content programme brimming with top speakers and interesting, relevant topics that speak to entrepreneurs’ key objectives around growth, events aimed at start-up communities can be incredibly exciting and inspirational. It explains why MWC and its 4YFN initiative, Web Summit and London Tech Week have come to attract not only start-ups, developers, and the brands that service them, but people like you and I, too.
Want to learn about more trends in brand experience? Check out our Trend Lab for the latest and greatest inspiration.