How to choose tech events to attend as a startup founder

Curating StartupDigest in Paris, I’ve seen a real boom in the number of tech events in Paris, in France and also in Europe.

When I started it, in 2011, there were no more than 10 events per week and it was mostly meetups. Now there are more than 30 events weekly including at least one great conference.

But as a startup founder, are you supposed to spend your time in a conference? If so, how do you select the best conferences to attend?

Spending your time at conferences can be a trap. But if you have clear goals and you pick up the events accordingly, it can be worth doing it.

Organizing B2B Rocks, I sometimes ask attendees what they are looking for. If they are looking for investors, then B2B Rocks is a great event to attend with 25+ investors (on 200 attendees). If they are looking for practical insights on how to grow a SaaS business, it’s still totally relevant. But if they are looking for people to hire, I think it’s not the good place to be since there is mostly founders and VCs.

It also really depends on the stage of your startup. If you are still building your product, it can be a good idea to attend conferences to build your network for your launching phase. It’s better to connect with great people before needing their help.

To choose the right events to attend

Prefer human-sized specific events

If you are a SaaS startup, you have more chance to reach your goals at events like SaaStr or B2B Rocks than if you are going the Web Summit. Of course, it can apply to every sectors.

A huge number of business cards collected during a conference is probably a vanity metrics. I think the ROI is much higher if you only get 5 but very qualified ones.

Prefer “selective events”

Conferences are like nightclubs. The best ones are those you won’t get in.
What made the success of conferences like Founders Forum, TED or Noah? It’s very hard to attend but if you do, every person you will talk to are incredible.

At the time I’m writing these lines B2B Rocks is not yet as selective, but we turned it an “invite only” event this year and I’m convinced that we will continue to raise the bar in the next years.

Prefer to pick up few events and play “all-in”

If you’re going to an event, try to stay the whole length and also attend the side events. Conferences are often organized as a whole thing.

When I was working at eFounders, I’ve been to very few events. I remember going to a great event organized by Point Nine Capital with their portfolio companies. We attended the pre-event and the whole event, and it was far better than 5 other events I’ve been to but only staying few hours at each.

I hope this will help you in your selection !

If you are a B2B or SaaS founder, I’ve got a tip for you ! Attending B2B Rocks is a no brainer 😉. So reserve your seat !

Alex