TechCrunch Disrupt events, hosted each year in San Francisco, New York, London and Berlin, are awesome gatherings of the most innovative startups that come from all around the world. The air is filled with such a vibrant startup energy that makes you even more enthusiastic about your own venture.
It is a unique opportunity to present your idea to the world, tell the startup community about your product, find new partners and get financing from multiple different sources. We at Zeroqode were not looking for any financing rather our goal was to spread the word about the no-code development technology that allows building web and mobile apps without code up to 10x faster. It was our first experience participating in TechCrunch Disrupt yet a very successful one, so we’d like to share some hints and tips about how we did it :)
FIND A SPONSORING ORGANIZATION — 3–4 MONTHS BEFORE THE EVENT
Participation at TechCrunch Disrupt is quite a costly venture, so if you are short on budget you might want to consider investigating whether there is an organization that will sponsor startups to represent your country. Sometimes participations are sponsored by startup accelerators and incubators. Normally these startups are organized into country or accelerator pavilions.
START PREPARING — AT LEAST 3–4 WEEKS BEFORE THE EVENT
Don’t underestimate the amount of preparation that you’d need to do even if you are going to have just a small table. So once your participation is confirmed you might want to go ahead and start getting everything prepared as soon as possible.
If you are a part of the Startup Alley then all you’ll get is a small round table with 80cm diameter. Not much, right? But with some creative approach you can still get the most out of it. An absolute must is a roll-up banner.
Most visitors don’t like to come and ask each startup about what exactly they are presenting. They prefer to understand the main idea by taking a quick look at the visuals and then if they get interested — they approach and talk to you.
So make sure that the message on your roll-up is very clear or at least you are sure that it will catch attention of others. Don’t be afraid to be creative and come up with bold statements that will intrigue people, like we did :)
Instead of describing in detail what we do we decided to simply write “NO. MORE. CODE.” So people were curious to know what we meant by it.
Developers were approaching to find out if they are going to lose their jobs — and we were explaining that it was quite the opposite — we simply want to make their work more efficient.
Founders were asking how our technology can help them launch products faster and with leaner budgets.
Designers were curious if they can start building functional apps instead of simply static designs.
We also printed a few cards with logos of famous and eye-catching web-sites and apps, like AirBNB, Slack, Trello, Instagram etc. and a sign saying “Build your own app without code”:
We have pinned them around the table so that they were visible from various angles. This got visitors even more intrigued and they were wondering whether they can build apps like those without code hence they were approaching us and asking questions.
We also printed a card saying “Get your free app template” and put it on the top of the table — we all love freebies, TechCrunch participants are no exception :)
Another thing we did was to put a tablet on the table which was playing a looped recording of no-code app development process.
So summing up — catchy roll-up banner, cards pinned to the table, tablet with the video and the Free Templates card created a great impression of what we do. So visitors were paying attention to at least one of the promo elements and then if interested — they looked at all others or just approached us directly.
Not only they help to create a positive image and brand awareness they can attract interest too! Usually the startups get only 1 day to exhibit while the Disrupt event is 2 days. So, the first day we were wearing these t-shirts while roaming around the startup alley and that itself was enough for people to wonder what we are doing and approach us with questions. Our t-shirts were saying “NO. MORE. CODE.” in front and “Apps without code? Ask me how” on the back. So a few times we were approached with a one word question — “How?” :)
PRINTED (OR NOT) MATERIALS
Business cards are obvious, so we printed some. A couple of hundred per person should be more than enough. But we decided not to print anything else, because web-site is doing a better job presenting the product and no one likes carrying piles of paper these days. And it’s good for the environment too to avoid printing something that will be thrown in the trash.
ON-SITE LEAD CAPTURING
We have set up a landing page with a simple email capture form. Once someone enters their email it is automatically added to our mailchimp list. For that list we configured an onboarding reply template that thanks for visiting us and includes the links to free app templates built by Zeroqode.
Initially the plan was to get a QR code and put it on the business cards so that people would scan them and be taken to the page. But on the event day we realized that we could get faster results if we ask them to fill it out immediately! Otherwise most of them would simply forget and never return.
So after presenting the product on our laptops and answering all questions we opened the site with the email capture form and asked visitors to share their emails to get the links to free templates. That way we captured 72 emails in one day! (high quality leads which are interested in our product)
This will also save you time because you won’t have to process the collected cards manually after the fair.
WILD CARD & INTERVIEW WITH TECHCRUNCH
TechCrunch selects some startups for interviewing, however because there are so many startups exhibiting chances that you will be selected are slim.
But Wild Card Winners (Visitors voting for the most interesting startup of the day) automatically get the interview secured.
So we decided to go after it and do anything we could to get as many votes as possible.
Voting is done through Disrupt mobile app and the attendee can vote only for 1 startup per day. The voting normally opens at 9 am and closes at 1 p.m. So we asked everyone who approached our stand to give us their vote if they were interested… Many agreed because they liked what we do.
You can also make some friends there and ask them to support you. Vote for someone on day 1 and ask them to vote for you on the next day (or the other way around).
☝ Useful Hack — some visitors don’t install the app and thus it takes time to ask them install it and vote. Only later we realized that we can use the app installed on our phones, sign out and sign in under the other person simply by scanning the QR code on their badge. Then we would look up our company in the list and ask them to press the “vote” button :) That turned out be very helpful because Disrupt Android app wasn’t working on that day and we lost quite some votes just because of that :)
So after we won the Wild Card we were invited on stage for an interview with John Biggs from Tech Crunch.
GOOD TO KNOW :
- Read all the emails from TechCrunch — they are sending various updates, and short notice changes that might be important to you. Also, they will be sending you guidelines, logistics details, the hours, schedules and many other things.
- On your exhibition day come early (in our case doors opened at 7 a.m., we arrived at about 7:20)
- Tweet about your startup using TechCrunch official hashtag (#TCDisrupt)
- Install Brella app well in advance to find event participants and make appointments before the event.