To be honest, I was a little skeptical walking into another Startup “expo” last week. Typically overcrowded and unproductive, these events would cram hundreds, or even thousands of people into a large warehouse making Times Square look empty. Tables would line every square inch of the room and 2 or 3 people discussing their company would need to address the pyramid of 10 or 15 looking to speak to them. Like I said, I was a little skeptical.
Much to my surprise however, the Alley Boost Startup Expo was different than the others. Upon walking into the room I could see that only a few dozen startups filled the floor and a much more reasonable amount of people walked amongst them. As I walked up and down the aisles it also became clear that this group of startups included businesses of all sizes, especially early stage. Suddenly, I didn’t feel so out of place.
Walking up to the first table I saw open, I introduced myself and asked him to tell me about his business. His name was Hunter and he created an app called Mob DJ where people in a bar nominate songs to be played on the bar’s radio and everyone else upvotes their favorite nominated songs. I was surprised when he told me Mob DJ had actually launched that day and he made all his promotional material just a few days before. Asking how, he told me how he utilized Fiverr for his logo, used a local dev shop and already had relationships with some pamphlet guys. I jotted this all down in the back of my head.
Next I met Scott from Campus Pursuit, who promotes your products by hiding them around a college campus. Getting into a frank discussion about how hard it is to recruit college students to your business, Scott told me how he experienced better results recruiting existing groups of friends than total strangers since they enjoy doing things together. He also introduced me to University Beyond, who specialize in college campus ambassadors.
By the time I walked out of this event I was armed with more than just the 30 business cards crammed in my pocket. Seeing all these hardworking entrepreneurs trying to promote their goods and services left me with a reinvigorated spirit. While I’ve been having various levels of “non-success” garnering media attention for Picit, seeing how hard everyone at the expo was hustling for their users made me appreciate the grind. Every single user is important, especially when you’re just starting out. I also picked up some great tricks and tools, and met some people who may be able to help me along my journey.
While not every expo, networking event, or pitch night may be fruitful, it’s important to stay at it and continue to attend them all. Like dating, you need to sift through some rocks if you want to find a diamond. And only by putting yourself in the right situations over and over again will you succeed in doing so.