Startup tourism

Andrzej Targosz

Startup tourism - a few words on how to prepare to participate in an event, decision criteria while choosing a conference and the current market offer.

Startup is a term which can be found everywhere these days. Information on innovative projects which are supposed to be new Facebook or Skype is published in almost every newspaper and broadcast in every television program. A great deal is currently being said about these projects. Following the model of Cisco, Intel and Microsoft big companies aspire to be close to the business environment, do not want to miss any new innovative project, but also try to improve their reputation being close to startups, which are a symbol of dynamic activity.

Where can large companies, startups and investors meet?
How to get access to major partners?

The most obvious answer is conferences and meetups. Organizers of all kinds of business and professional events became aware of this growing need. They find a unique niche in the market to launch a new business by offering ' unparalleled' opportunities for someone to catch bait which is drifting away the closer you are approaching it. Such a practice has been defined as a “sales gimmick” by a famous cabaret group. There is nothing wrong with that - it's a standard marketing action, a regular practice making for building business success. The responsibility for choosing a particular offer should be shifted towards a customer - in this particular case on founders or persons managing a startup.


Since the decision lies with the startup, let us consider what product selection criteria such customers should follow and how they should prepare to participate in individual events. The answer to this question is not easy – to make matters worse, in many cases the selection is as important as preparation for an event.

Let's start from the beginning. Taken the selection of conferences to choose from, one finds it impossible to participate in all meetings. Each of them needs and individual bit of thought and analysis to assess the return-on-investment. Yes, I mention the investment as startups are quite familiar with this terminology. The moment you make your decision to participate in an event can be the moment you put yourself in the role of an investor who before getting involved in a given project studies the product thoroughly and prepares to make a decision. Each individual running a company is faced with such instances when he/she must repeatedly change their role, which allows them to understand different points of view.

Gdzie duże firmy, startupy, inwestorzy mogą się spotkać?
Jak uzyskać dostęp do poważnych partnerów?

Any reasonable investor making his/her decision to get involved, analyses the estimation as one of the elements - but certainly not the essential one. The return-on-investment, which gives greater substance to their action, is of bigger importance. The same reasoning should go behind selecting an event in which you want to participate. The direct cost of the event is no longer as important as what we can get in return for our investment. It is a basic principle that should be followed when the decision on the participation in the event is made. Moreover, the cost does not only involve tickets, transportation and accommodation but also time, which is very costly (especially when we talk about founders’ time).


We collate the above with the time spent, the educational and networking value of the event. All these components must be taken into account.

The educational part is quite obvious - it makes no sense to dwell on it too much. We expect to be able to meet successful people. As the proverb says „who keeps company with the wolves, will learn to howl" – we try to keep in the company of people who inspire and motivate us to action. We expect expertise and only experts can share it with us. They usually gained their knowledge from experience, so they are the best source of expertise. They can show us the lines of action and to prompt us on what will happen in our business next.

It is more difficult to analyse the value of networking, however, if we decided to participate in the event, we need to prepare and to help us attain all our goals. We start with a thorough analysis and we tick all the lectures we would like to participate. Now we check the list of participants. The conference application form is quite helpful - most professional conferences should have one. The lack of one is a big oversight of the organizers. We must then browse Facebook, LinkedIn and use your mailbox, which will help you make as many valuable appointments at the meetings as possible.

And here the true art of networking begins – finding links and networks of people and skilful ribbing strangers we would like to meet. It is not easy – it requires hours spent on looking for information and sending emails to your friends/ acquaintances, and watch the agenda of an event at the same time. We know many stories about people meeting investors or business partners in a taxi or in a lift.

What additional information can be helpful:

- Inviting valuable friends to the event - as the principle says – the more friendly people around, the greater and the easier the chance to meet your friends’ friends directly. It is natural networking which reinforces your activity at a conference.
- knowing the conference hotel infrastructure – the night spent in the official conference hotel gives an opportunity to have common breakfast or a beer, to meet in the lift people whom we want to talk to. We all know similar stories that sound like American Dream. Coincidences happen, but sometimes they simply need some prompting.
- Meetings before and after a conference – you must remember that many additional meetings are organised at the time of the conference and they are not on the schedule.

The abovementioned suggestions should not be considered as a detailed list of tasks, but rather as recommendations, which should be followed if you want to think professionally about the event. Of course, such planning is not necessary if we draw a different value from the event and we do not expect any special turning points. For example, you can spend two days of the conference meeting your friends and keeping your relationships. However, it is very difficult to call it work, these are rather short holidays spent with your friends. There is very often no difference between it and spending two days on the beach....

Andrzej Targosz
- is a visionary, an educator, a community-builder, and a businessman who wears many hats. He is founder and CEO of over 6 different companies including the PROIDEA - producer of premier tech and startup conferences around Poland; he has been an entrepreneur since the ripe young age of 17, an investor of successful startups like Estimote, Intelclinic, and Jive, and most importantly, a loving husband and father of five. Today, Andrzej’s ultimate business goals steer towards the bigger picture - wanting to create greater international exposure to Poland’s tech scene and creating successful startup-

This article was written under “Get Inspired - entrepreneurship, startup, cooperation”
project co-financed by the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs
as part of the "Cooperation in the field of public diplomacy 2015" contest.