Re:plain Chat at the Web Summit: How We Pitched For 30 Hours, Got Tired But Talked About Integration With Numerous B2B Projects - Sharing Our Personal Experience.
The kind of business benefits we actually got for 6000 Euros.
Many people go to this, the largest technology conference, to find out how the world of tomorrow will live. When you come to the Web Summit, you find yourself among investors, entrepreneurs, engineers and visionaries who are literally making our tomorrow.
But we went there for work, as it is also a huge B2B exhibition. Though we missed almost all the cool sessions, we managed to make up our advertising costs by learning from our mistakes, and we are happy to share our experience with other startups who are still thinking of going to Lisbon.
The Сost Of Participation For a Startup, How to Submit an Application And Have an Interview
Is it worth the money spent?
For a long time we doubted the worthwhileness of the expenses (bringing out a team from different parts of the world is neither easy nor cheap). But since our platform is not limited to covering one country, we decided that it was vital for us.
It would be hard to find a better place for the announcement of our web chat, which is now integrated not only with Telegram, but also with Facebook Messenger. It was important for us to receive feedback about our work from the international business community. By the way, the most popular question during the conference was: “Cool! When are you going to set up WhatsApp integration?”
How much we spent: about 6,000 Euros. Including: participation in the exhibition 1000 Euros; the cost of exhibition materials (business cards, fliers, etc.) 500 Euros. The rest was spent on accommodations for 6 days and travel for a team of 3 people.
What’s the bottom line of all this? We have selected about 40 projects and at the moment we’re actively discussing cooperation with them. We established useful and promising contacts with companies like Google, Doctor Na Rabote, Orange and TAP Portugal. If it wasn’t for the Web Summit, it would have been much harder to get the contacts of such big decision makers.
Who participates in the Web Summit?
The participants are mainly CEOs, CTOs and project founders. The dialogues were almost always substantive and clear. You get a sensible answer from a decision maker right on the spot.
Who are the visitors?
In fact, participants are visitors, and those were the majority. There is another category of participants corporations. They do not need to partner with anyone (but they’d look into integration proposals), they came to listen to the powerful of the world.
How interested are the Web Summit hosts in startups?
Quite interested. This is a serious event, but at the same time there is no financial barrier, unlike some business media who might say “don’t come until you get at least a billion in investment”. The Web Summit always invites startups, for them it is both profitable (from the entrance ticket, booths, etc.) and supports the format. They are interested in attracting projects before they become successful, so that later they can say: they came to us and took off.
How to register a startup
We submitted an application 2 months before the event. We filled out a couple of fields on the site and waited for confirmation. Registration for 2019 is already open. We were assigned an interview within a week. Our interview goal was to convince the representative of the summit of the viability of our project; prove that it is commercially effective; and confirm that we have a team.
1. To present your project in English
2. To have your project presentation in English show that your project makes a profit. This presentation should not be aimed at investors, but at the Selection Committee. Make sure to communicate your information accordingly.
They asked us about our monetization methods and how many customers we had. Our interviewer, savvy in the topic, looked at our chat and checked its performance. He asked quite reasonable questions as well.
As I later understood, the hosts have various teams that evaluate projects according to the competence of their expert council. Therefore, passing such a test performed by a knowledgeable specialist was fun and challenging.
After the first interview there can also be a second or a third one, but we were approved immediately. We didn’t do anything exceptional, just showed everything we were asked for. Having arrived to the summit, we saw quite a few projects that seemed to be at the MVP stage, and some at the very early stages. So it’s no surprise the hosts welcome companies that already have sales, real customers and some kind of history behind them.
The final step was receiving a 1000 euros payment link a few days later
Preparation For the Conference: Selection of Businesses for Networking
Before the trip, we very carefully reviewed the list of the Web Summit participants by studying their projects and websites in order to understand how we might integrate Re:plain there (so that we didn’t waste time at the exhibition but could immediately offer concrete suggestions).
We tried to answer the following questions. What forms of communication do they have on their website? Are these forms comfortable or would Re:plain be useful? How can we integrate with them given the uniqueness of each infrastructure?
We composed a table with answers to these questions and prepared pitches for each participant chosen.
By the way, during the summit, we implemented our integration with the largest trading platform in Russia. As a result, on the product page, a visitor can click on “Contact the Supplier” and communicate with them in chat mode. What makes it different is that the owner of the product is able to receive these messages to their personal Telegram account, connect different managers and use all the functionality of Re:plain.
Did we send out invitations to meet and press releases to journalists?
To be honest, we missed the boat on this one a bit, and basically used the opportunities provided by the Web Summit itself. They requested our company card, video, press releases etc. We answered some of these requests, but we didn’t have time for some of them.
Now we know how these mechanisms work, and by next year we will get a fullfledged employee in order to promote our brand across all channels at the summit.
Re:plain At the Conference: How We Designed the Booth and Presented the Product
November 8 (the first conference day)
We got up at 6:30 and got there. It took us 20 minutes to settle on the booth and at 8:30 am we were already presenting our web chat to the first visitors
I’m proud to share that many visitors noted the quality and design concept of our materials. It was very nice to get such a positive feedback from the Mailchimp Design Director.
All in all, it was 10 difficult hours of continuous conversation (only on the first day). By the end of the day you want to sleep and you don’t want talk to anyone for a couple of days, but with a happy smile on your face.
How we presented the product itself
Re:plain has recently started working in Facebook Messenger. And that was the main focus of our demo. Visual presentation of the product works best: here is the site, here is where we write messages, here we receive it directly in Messenger.
People said: it’s awesome, but what else? You can also adjust colors, add users, sites, greetings, schedules, calls and colors. Well hot damn, I’ll take two!
Are contests and other entertaining activities necessary? (what we did, what was the result and what we think)
We think these activities aren’t necessary. The Web Summit is truly one of the biggest events with expensive tickets gathering a variety of projects, businesses and services, and its basic concept of communication is something like this: The CEO approaches you reading the tag line of the project on your sign and asks you to tell them more. You have a few minutes to demonstrate the product, to describe its concept and to find out what the other person represents and how you can be useful to each other.
Since the people who you communicate with generally occupy fairly highranking positions, they are interested in projects, not jokes and giveaways. Your expensive merchandise will be picked up by volunteers and occasional window shoppers.
Plus, the number of startups representing their projects is over 2000! People have to save time to get to know all of them. It is better to make a clearer description of the project, than to waste energy on giveaways. While you are amusing someone greedy for gain, there might be a partner waiting in the line who is interested in your project and ready to pay.
When we were preparing for the conference, we came up with a fun contest whose purpose was to show how easy and simple it is to install our web chat on a website. We were going to challenge people to eat a cake faster than we could install it. While we trained the installation took 1 minute 4 seconds from the zero stage. That wasn’t enough time to eat a cake. Then we asked the hosts whether it was possible to bring such a meal, and we were turned down for all kinds of edible products. As it turned out, this was for the better, since CEOs are unlikely to be entertained by this.
Opinions may differ though. If a contest or some kind of activity at the Web Summit added value to the pitching conversion for you, we would love to hear from you, please share.
How many people visited our booth?
In one day of the presentation, about 150 people visited us. On average, we presented Re:plain to a new person every 4 minutes. We received 100% positive feedback, and now we are partnering with 30% of people we talked to.
How many investors approached the booth?
Investors from all over the world behave almost similarly they hide their badge and walk with a tired look at exhibitions. Quite often, it’s not the investors themselves who come but their representatives (their bosses are too busy biohacking their muscles in gyms). Nevertheless, there were very few window shoppers. The audience is cool and right for a young project and for those who are looking for partners.
What questions did investors and visitors ask?
The question was generally the same for all projects: please, tell me something more about your company. The rest is what you prepared and how you improvise.
How did we determine a person’s interest in the project is it a warm lead or a window shopper?
We did not particularly divide people into any categories and tried to talk with as many people as possible.
We prepared an engagement format that worked perfectly. These were microbusiness cards, made in the form of a message. We handed a business card with words like “Hi, you have a Message”. In 100% of cases, this caused a positive emotion and instantly made contact.
We often managed to convert a “cold lead” into a “hot” one by completely transforming the idea of livechats and coming up with some brand new opportunities with those who obviously approached to us just out of curiosity.
What did we do on other days of the exhibition?
As we mentioned above, we have prepared an impressive list of partners we wanted to talk to. That is why we spent the first 2 days in presentations, meetings and searching not only for previously chosen projects, but also for new ones among the participants of the summit.
Unfortunately, we did not attend any parties or sessions. After running around the exhibition from 9AM to 4PM trying to meet all the partners from our list, we only had the strength to pop into a cafe nearby, eat whatever they served and fall asleep.
The same thing with the sessions. We had commercial goals that we sought to achieve. The venue of the summit was huge, and even the search for the desired booth took us 1015 minutes with the following chat for another 10 minutes. This is hard work. But it’s the best.
Many people complained that there was no place to eat at the Web Summit. They had food courts there, but the queues at lunch were insane. But opposite the exhibition center (literally just steps from it) there was the Vasco da Gama Shopping Center with a food court and a supermarket. And at 5 minutes walking distance there was the largest aquarium in Europe. Inside of it there was a wonderful cafe, where we came and ate during the summit without waiting in queues.
RoundUp (partnerships, new contacts etc.)
For us this was the first event of such a scale, the first attempt to understand the international response to what we are doing. Even in our wildest dreams we did not foresee such an effect and such a warm welcome from the industry community.
After talking with a variety of companies and projects, we discovered a huge number of new solutions and new ways to use Re:plain, not only for our main customers, but also for large partners.
We are already working on the integration with a number of companies that we met at the summit. It was definitely worth every cent spent.
Thank you for reading to this point. We would be very glad if our experience could be useful to someone. And, of course, we would be grateful for any reviews and comments from experienced peers who have been visited the Web Summit for more than a year. Share your life hacks with us!