Overload of Events for Startups? Is it worth it to attend...
Well, now you might think, is this guy crazy? He and his colleagues are hosting events since over 10 years and yet he is asking if attending an event is worth it??
Maybe not so crazy but concerned:
When we started out with the EVM (European Venture Market), we were actually the first to just concentrate on Startups meeting Investors and thus get a chance for direct interaction. We were also the first checking pitches to make sure everybody had the same fair chance and to make sure that the cases presented were/are understandable. Very important to avoid listeners to blank out!
We were also the first to indicate via different colored nametags who is an entrepreneur and who is an investor or a service-provider (Lawyers, tax-accountants etc.). That way is was/is much easier to approach the appropriate people and not waste time and energy. It also enables us as the hosts to remind participants to not be shy to talk to investors, which often seemed to be the case. Especially in Germany we often heard "Why don't they approach me...?"
And it is a phenomena: we often see entrepreneurs gathering during the events, sharing their experiences. I guess that could also mean sharing negative experiences, which actually does not really help unless you detected a serious mistake on your own side and now share that with others to make them aware and avoid those!
Investors are busy people and they don't like to waste their time, so when they are there, they want to hear what you have to offer and you must use your chance to talk to them personally!
So, what we do is simple and straight forward: Promote direct meetings and interaction between startups and investors! And as hosts we encourage and directly connect our participants with partners we think could be relevant for them.
Years ago a team from Gründerszene was making a video during one of our events and asked one of the participants: "What can you win pitching here at the EVM?" The answer of the entrepreneur was fantastic: "Valuable contacts!" Here is a link to the "old footage"
WHAT IS A STARTUP??? Anyway I am asking myself today more and more often what it is that startups really need, and that brings me immediately to the question what a startup really is. Recently somebody told me that from official side it was mentioned that there are over 40.000 startups in Germany (!)... Hmmmh??
To me a startup is a company with a new technology, an innovative and disruptive approach to change the way things have been done, a new way of adding sophistication and convenience in our day to day lives or new ideas for stustainable concepts. And because of the breakthrough-ideas or Innovation, a startup should have the potential to grow fast! And because of that, a startup needs investors who can accompany the growth-path and enable it to establish itself in the market fast.
Are there 40.000 startups in Germany? Probably not when you define it like just mentioned. Are there 40.000 entrepreneurs who want to make a difference in their markets and have something good and valuable to offer and sell: of course! And they all have the chance to find people and investment-vehicles to make their dreams come true, but these vehicles could be grants, subsidized loans, local angels, and let's face it: most businesses don't need millions to start!
But a real startup needs professional investors with sizeable funds and a network to support the company and its team. And we all know that investors are mostly on the search for the "next big thing", even though that is a very difficult prediction to make. Also, for the "real big things" you need really large funds! Facebook gathered around 750 million USD relatively early on and and that time that was more than the total annual amount of VC invested in Germany!
So, back to my question: Is it worth it to attend events and which ones?
My personal view after many years in banking and now as one who hosts events as well:
I personally don't like competitions or business-plan-competitions very much.
Why? Who is there to judge? Who puts together a jury or which "experts" are reviewing the cases? Is it worth the time and effort?
If it is a competition like we recently have seen more often by Chinese Cities trying to promote their areas and also as a possible price fly you there and introduce you to possible investors - well, that could be an option if your business would work in China as well and you see real benefits!
I would only go where there are relevant investors willing to talk to the startups to at least increase my network or my knowledge about the investment process.
Now, am I tooting my own horn? Of course!
Since the overload of events is the headline of our post, we are well aware that we constantly have to rethink our own strategies to offer best possible value for investors, startups and service-providers, and that's why we hit the pause-button for hosting our EVM for now. We don't want to be just another event, and we also still think that a participation should cost since the services provided like pitch-coaching prior to events are valuable!
We still organize, offer and promote events to bring investors and startups together, but we'll do it with partners and will make sure the experience is hands-on and very concrete for all participants!
To give you an impression of our last years events with content and participants, please have a look right here:
And since there will be many opportunities for us to present startups in front of investors now and in the future we invite you cordially to leave your application
See you soon, stay tuned and check in on us!
Your EVM Team