Planning an event is stressful and nerve-wracking, but after planning multiple successful startup showcases in the past several years, we thought that other startup incubators and accelerators can benefit from our past experience. Here are our top tips on how to plan and execute a successful startup showcase.
1. Use Eventbrite to its Full Potential
First and foremost, you will need a strategy to manage your attendees and track who’s coming or not. Eventbriteis a leading platform to manage events and to also send out invitations while analyzing the results afterwards. We’ve used it for past events and it has never let us down so we opted to go with Eventbrite again.
To plan a successful startup showcase though, you need to use Eventbrite to its full potential. This means opting for a plan that allows you to create custom fields, creating a graphic that is creative and attractive, and having meaningful and valuable information in the event description. Putting that extra effort into using this platform will yield better results.
2. Quality of Attendees > Quantity of Attendees
The phrase “the more the merrier” doesn’t necessarily apply when planning a startup showcase event. For most showcases, the focus should be on the quality of attendees, rather than the quantity. We’ve learned from our past events and decided to focus on friends and partners in the industry, investors, as well as VIP guests was the best choice for this year.
For any startup showcase, one of the main goals is to create meaningful connections, and that means filling the room with people that would be of interest to the startups and co-founders. To do this, we reached out to our networks and focused on specific fields and areas of interest and the effort paid off, we not only had a large number of attendees but ones that were a perfect match for our startups and co-founders to connect with.
There is always a question of offering an invite-only or an open showcase. We’ve done both in the past and found that offering an exclusive event yields better results and a better quality of attendees. Again, this ties back to the fact that we want to have a high quality of attendees, not a high quantity of attendees.
Sending the message of exclusivity is also attractive to the guests that are invited to attend the event, as it provides a luxury and premium feeling if it is an invite-only event.
4. Be Unique
Our startup showcase stood out because we had a different environment and ambiance than other demos or showcases around the city. We laced the walls with coloured lights and turned our office into a trendy place to be by having an open bar and hip décor.
A lot of startup demos or showcases are usually in big bright ballrooms with tables lined after one and another. We wanted to focus on creating connections and having a fun time so we created an environment where people can casually chat. Our attendees loved this as they didn’t want to leave the showcase even after it was over!
5. Hire Catering Staff
To make sure everyone had a drink and didn’t go hungry during our showcase, we hired a catering staff to take care of everything. This will definitely help a lot as essentially all of the food and drinks are taken care of and off your hands. Dedicate a certain budget to the catering and its staff, it’s worth every penny and it’ll make sure all your guests at the event will be satisfied.
6. Preparation — Lots of it
Planning for an event of this magnitude is year-round. There is never a time when you’re not planning. Even now after the event we are making notes and discussing how to improve next year’s startup showcase.
We built our Eventbrite event page months ahead of the actual date, booked the catering staff months ahead, and ordered our marketing materials to be printed weeks ahead so we can make last-minute changes if we needed to. If you want to have a successful startup showcase, you’ll need to think long-term. This includes any purchases and marketing material when you’re planning your showcase. Preparation is always key.
7. Be Adaptable to Sudden Changes
At the same time, you can’t prepare for everything. Something will eventually arise where you didn’t expect or plan for. The key to this and ensuring that your showcase remains a success is to stay focused and to not sway under pressure. No event will go 100% as planned so be ready to improvise wherever is needed.
8. Delegate as Much as You Can
A great event is supported by superstar staff members. And here at TandemLaunch we have our own superstars! With some of our staff members around since the start, they have planned and organized multiple of showcases at TandemLaunch. These are the people that you will need to ask to delegate tasks since all of the knowledge and experience are with them. These are the people that will ultimately run the whole show from start to finish. Delegate tasks to the team and put everyone to work. Everyone needs to contribute, from the CEO to the administrative assistant. Everyone is key to a successful showcase.
9. Have Fun and Enjoy the Night!
Don’t forget to enjoy the night at the end of everything! All the hard work will be worth it and you should take the time to admire all your hard work come to life.