Standing out at startup events

It can seem overwhelming attending startup events where there are typically hundreds of companies in attendance and where everyone’s goal is to stand out. It’s certainly no easy feat with limited space and on a startups budget. Many of the people walking around automatically gravitate towards the companies they’ve heard of and give nothing more than a glance at the banner towards ones they don’t. After all the events we’ve attended, here’s a few tips that we’ve accumulated to really attract some people to your booth.

Handouts

Let’s face it, most of the handouts we get from events like these are boring flyers and business cards. While it is important to have both, that doesn’t mean they have to be destined for the trash. Here’s an example of the die-cut handout that we gave out at NYTechDay which we had people almost flocking around our booth just to get one:

These fold into an iPhone shaped booklet with screenshots of the app. The screenshots are on the inside and its folded accordion style.

It’s not folded in the picture, but you can imagine how it looks when its folded into the booklet featuring a screenshot on each page. It’s short, sweet, informational, and something that people have not seen before. We got many compliments on such a unique handout that really stood out from the crowd.

Has our logo, website, and twitter handle. Proved to be a great handout.

Aside from flyers, its also important to have some swag. In our case, this meant night themed things and what’s gets people thinking about the night more than shot glasses? Again, something that people won’t throw out, has our logo and website printed on, and will also be a crowd pleaser.

In my opinion, don’t bother with the pens and notepads (or other crap like that). Unless you have a startup involving ink or paper, it’s going to end up in the garbage.

On our budget, shot glasses and flyers were all we could reasonably afford to give out at these events. Our total cost: $100 (business cards) + $600 (1500 flyers) + $800 (500 shot glasses) = $1500. Money well spent.

Banner

This is critical. It’s the thing that will determine if people ask about your product or if they walk right by it. The key to a successful banner is keeping it incredibly simple. Here’s ours:

You can see that all we have on there is our logo, slogan, website, and twitter handle. If you don’t have an attention grabbing slogan, you may want to reconsider that. When people approached our booth, the first thing most of them would say is “what is a nightwork?”. That was exactly our goal and proved to us that our slogan got people interested.

Hook ‘Em

Lastly, once you have people at your booth, your job isn’t done. If you can’t explain your company in ten seconds or less, people will start nodding off and just shaking their head in agreement towards whatever you say. Don’t get into the long story about how you came up with the idea and why the world needs it. Just explain what it does, how it will help that person, and then offer some handouts.

Make sure you have an email signup bar on your website. This is also critical.

You gotta hustle

These events are meant to be beneficial for your company. However, that most likely won’t just happen naturally. It’s your job to get yourself out there and bring people to your spot. Go around offering fun swag, start conversations, give your elevator pitch. Lastly, remember that you never know who you’re talking to. Don’t be quick to judge if that person is worth your time because, who knows, it could be your next top user or even investor.

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