Attending conferences are much like Facebook Advertising, a paid amplification tool. There’s no point to attending unless you are clear on why you are there and who you want to connect with. Otherwise it is a waste of your time.
StartCon is Australia’s largest startup and growth conference. 2017 was my first time attending. Knowing that Dennis Yu and Logan Young were speaking was a significant draw card for me to be there. However, knowing that their talk was going to be only 30 minutes and it was a massive 2 full days with over 60 speakers and 4,000 attendees, I wanted to investigate what else I could gain from being there.
Whilst the conference is called ‘StartCon’ and the focus is on Start Ups, I quickly realised the value of attending no matter what stage of business you are in and why everyone who is in business and wants to maximise their opportunities to grow their business should take the opportunity to attend this incredible well put together conference.
The Value Of Being Surrounded By Like-minded People
No one succeeds in business alone. When 4,000 people come together with a common interest of business growth it becomes a melting pot of ideas and opportunities. Motivated, inspired people have an amazing energy that can be absorbed and utilised for your advantage, personally and professionally.
Edmond Lau is the ‘Effective Engineer’. What I gained the most out what Edward had to say is that engineers can and do create incredible platforms for users that can and do have positive impacts on our lives, however if those that create them suffer in the creation process then we seriously need to reconsider how these platforms are developed.
A huge pain point for trades people is getting paid. A huge pain point for consumers is getting quality trades people to do work cost and time effectively. After asking the i4Tradies team many questions about their start-up I can see they have great potential.
My take on what they do is they bridge the gap for both the consumer and the trades people. They enable with ease to find, verify and book a tradesperson, track and document their progress with the job and then enable efficient invoicing on completion of the job.
On the personal and professional front this app excites me. I have witnessed first hand the troubles trades people have with getting paid and I have also seen family members being caught out with dubious trades people miss quoting. I can see their intent to solve valid problems is there, this is a great start, I look forward to seeing them gain traction.
As a marketer I like tools that help me do my job better such as analytics tools, content creation and optimisation. However as I work more and more with clients, I see clearly how important it is they are set up for success with the right foundation, before they market (aka ‘amplify’) their message. What I loved at StartCon was the variety of exhibitors for services and platforms for efficiency and sustainability, especially those that assist with the improvement of business structure and process to increase business sustainability and longevity.
AcVisory, Recovery One, Hall Chadwick Chartered Accountants were standouts with their approach.
A Glimpse Of The Future
Discovery. You are only limited by what you know. What new things are being created and tested. I was especially interested in what utilised new technology to make user experience better.
I’m known for my love of coffee. What I loved about the Skip App was the experience during the conference. As someone who has been drinking coffee since 15, it features very highly in my daily life, so much so I even explain Social Media as a cup of coffee.
By downloading the app you could order your coffee, and be notified when if would be ready. What I loved with this is that you could then continue enjoying the conference until your coffee was ready, therefore maximising your time. Whilst coffee was free at the conference, I also loved that after the conference you were emailed special offers to try out your local cafe with the Skip service. The problems they solved when it comes to coffee, wait time, finding loose change were great. As someone who uses a ‘keep cup’ as much as I can, I would love to see how they could incorporate recycling into their service. I do hope they are at StartCon next year.
Salesforce Gamifying Their Features and Benefits
Augmented reality (AR) can still be viewed as futuristic science fiction. What I loved was Sales Force’s creative take on their launch of a service offering for Small and Medium sized businesses. Yes, go sit in a Canoe, put on a VR headset and become immersed in the experience of finding and shooting the benefits of the new service.
It was fun, entertaining and peaked my curiosity about what their offering was. Rather than someone telling me of the features and benefits, I discovered them within a game. It was refreshing, different and memorable.
In Person Connections
We cannot succeed alone. I became much more aware, the start-up community didn’t just consist of people trying to get funding. Attendees were everything from teachers, mentors, students, usability experts, product managers, engineers, accountants, bookkeepers, business advisors of all ages.
I was fortunate to see Sarah Doody speak on the Friday at the conference. What I loved the most about Sarah’s talk was her passion for product creation with purpose. Creating for the sake of it is pointless. Sarah clearly demonstrated the value of not being afraid to talk to your audience and then create with their input. When you have this approach you set yourself up for success.
Then, on the Saturday I saw her in between watching talks and approached her for a quick chat. I then realised how much of an impact her talk had on me. I was ready to easily recount her entire talk back to her.
To say she has a strong impact on me is an understatement. When it comes to product creation and pursuing an idea as a business, everyone should check out Sarah Doody’s approach to Usability and incorporate it in their idea development process.
David Kenney (aka ‘DK’) and I connected on LinkedIn.
DK was one of the speakers on the Saturday. It was wonderful to see him speak sharing his insights as an accountant and advisor who helps start-ups succeed.
I then visited DK at the Hall Chadwick stand in the StartCon Expo. DK’s passion for what he does is evident. As someone who is passionate about everyone having financial literacy to achieve their personal and professional goals, it was exciting to meet someone who also has the same passion.
When it came to paid advertising, I couldn’t see a way to incorporate paid advertising and keep my authenticity.
It wasn’t until I encountered Dennis Yu and Logan Young that I could see clearly how to bring organic and paid together in harmony. Quite simply you cannot have success with paid advertising unless you have success with organic first.
They made me realise that my approach to organic and paid advertising was right. I first met them in San Diego in March but didn’t get to see them speak in person until May at a special StartCon event. To see them speak at StartCon in December 2017 was a great opportunity. Every time I see them speak I learn. What stood out this time in Sydney was how relaxed Logan was on stage demonstrating how you can apply dollar a day strategies to achieve your business goals.
What they brought to the stage was compelling and can be applied by everyone regardless of stage of business they are at. Cost effective marketing, the ability to leverage the resources they are surrounded by organically first before putting paid advertising spend into action.
The first 2 years of my business I didn’t spend money on advertising, I focused on getting clients and traction for my business organically. Due to having a young family and starting my business from scratch, my ability (and funds) to attend conferences was limited.
To be fair I also didn’t know which ones I should attend and didn’t prioritise conferences as a whole as I didn’t see the value in them either.
After attending StartCon 2017, I have a heightened awareness of the many people within the Start-up community there are and the many roles they play. Everyone regardless of age and business can learn from others. Don’t be afraid to reach out online to connect, just then make sure you follow up and take advantage of the opportunities to connect in person too. This is where conferences like StartCon are invaluable.
I look forward to being at StartCon 2018.