What we* learned from the

Launch Festival

All based in real stories from entrepreneurs

I’m excited to go for the first time to the Launch Festival, “the biggest start up conference in the world”(2nd–4th March). Because I want to make the most of it and have a great experience, I decided to research as much as possible about it before going.

But I found a problem: there was no place where I could find real first hand feedback from entrepreneurs who have launched at the festival.

So I went out to contact everyone that participated in the Launch Festival ‘13 and ‘14. I can tell you there is a thin line between harassment and hustling.

Cold emailing, connecting on linkedIn (almost as cold), messaging, Skype and two weeks of work left me with the opinions and stories I’m about to share with you.

It all started with an email that just said I was a fan of @Jason (TWiST) and that I would appreciate if he could help me by answering these 4 questions:

1-What do you think of the Launch Festival?

2-What kind of repercussion did it have on your startup? (Fundraising? Downloads? Leads?)

3-What has happened in this last year? What has been the road traveled since the Launch Festival?

4-Would you recommend other founders to join it?Have you?

From the answers of these questions I choose 3 lessons to share with you.

You need to be ready to show something awesome, explain it well, and follow up with investor leads within days of meeting them.

One of the lessons that I hear being repeated over and over again up and down the Valley is: “Prepare your pitch. Do your homework.” What I like about this story is how it places emphasis on the preparation and hard work it takes to get ready for the Launch Festival.

I advise that it is better to wait a year and do Launch with very good preparation rather than try to fit it in with insufficient preparation. You will have your biggest impact in your first year at Launch. The preparation I am referring to includes making your product ready to show, having your funding plans and strategy finalized, and having a pitch deck ready to go. You need to be ready to show something awesome, explain it well, and follow up with investor leads within days of meeting them. The only way to do this effectively is to have everything prepared before the festival starts.

I have been to many conferences and meetings where the entrepreneurs that go are not only not ready to present but they also don’t understand that this is the beginning not the end. After you present on stage, it is then when the wheels start turning fast and you need to take advantage of that tailwind. I especially liked how he had a clear idea that the follow up needs to happen within days after meeting the investors. The same goes for users! Work hard on the traffic you obtain to get customers!

Time could be better spent making an ok product better.

This is the trade off between building and pitching. I was surprised to read this, maybe because I have listened to Jason on his podcast: “How to demo your product” (forward to 16:30). “Don’t present a product that is not ready to be presented! Present only a great product.” Maybe a good idea would be to ask them to watch 100 episodes before applying to the festival. I also understand that its difficult to know when the product is ready or if you have an MVP. Here is the story in the entrepreneur’s words:

My heart went out to some of the companies who put other things on hold and flew in from across the country to be there, but did not have enough impact from the event. I’m sure it helped them in their own way, but time could be better spent making an ok product better rather than on airplanes and pitch coaching.

I find this advise very honest and direct to the point. There is no better way to say it. Work hard on the product and try to get to MVP before you launch.

Driving the founder to be sharp on their messaging, have the product ready for the demo and sets deadline which is very essential to focus and accomplish milestones

The lesson we learned here is one the entrepreneur took with him. The need to be forthright on your story and relentless in the execution. Don’t doubt, focus and accomplish.

Biggest value I see is that the focus, energy and effort you spend in preparing for the launch presentation itself. It driving the founder to be sharp on their messaging, have the product ready for the demo and sets deadline which is very essential to focus and accomplish milestones prior to presentation. Also gives good exposure and get’s the name out, also may get good feedback from the panel of judges. Founders can leverage it for marketing promotions, fund raising, etc. (a lot depends on the audience and how much they know about Launch Festival/ respect the event organizers)

The last part is interesting because it mentions how this event affects the different stakeholders in a startup life: customers, investors. I would also add possible future employees and the press.

I hope you find these lessons helpful and understand a little of what the entrepreneurs feel when presenting at the Launch Festival. I will probably follow up with my own experience after March 4th.

I want to thank all those who answered my emails and took their time to reach me. Thank you for sharing. I will end quoting one of the entrepreneurs on his experience:

You have to stand out. It’s all about drive, passion, grind and attitude.

PS:Thank you for reading this far. I really appreciate it. If you like it git Recommend down there in the left side or connect with me @JDcarlu or just email me jdcarluccio@gmail and let’s go for a coffee (@Philz)

PPS: I already have my ticket for the Launch Festival 2015 (get yours here).