While the Summer season may mean beach holidays and pina coladas for 9-to-5 types, for those in the startup world it means a busy events calendar.
May to July is the peak time for startup conferences and events and Publicize Principal Craig Corbett was ready to dive in headfirst and cause a splash about how startups can use PR and communications to grow their digital footprints, and ultimately scale their businesses.
My first stop was London, where I had been invited to run a workshop on ‘PR for growth’ at the StartupGrind Startupday. Nestled away in the hip Shoreditch area, known as one of the hotbeds of startup activity in the UK capital, StartupGrind held their private event at the Google for Startups HQ.
The event brought together all of the startups who had been chosen for the StartupGrind Accelerate program. This is an invite-only community designed to give fast-growth startups from across the world the tools and resources they need to accelerate their businesses.
Out of 1000s of applicants, only 50 Grind startups and 10 Growth startups from each Startup Exhibition are invited to take part in the Accelerate program. Growth startups are more developed enterprises which have already raised over $3M and/or are beginning to focus more on growth and broad exposure over the coming months.
StartupDay is a closed event which offers workshops, presentations, and Q&A sessions for chosen startups on themes which have been curated to help them scale their businesses. This includes how to build relationships with VCs, how to excel during pitches, and of course, how to meet your business goals through effective PR!
My workshop was a success and raised some interesting comments and questions from the group of around 10 startups which attended. After a busy afternoon, and some interesting networking post event at the Mark Square WeWork, it was time for an early night in preparation for the main event the next day, StartupGrind Europe.
The main event was held at the stunning Westminster Central Hall, just minutes from Big Ben and the British Government buildings. The Grade II* listed building drips with history, having been first inaugurated as a public meeting space for the Methodist Church in 1912, and hosting the very first UN public address in 1946. Despite intense rain showers in the early afternoon, spirits of the 3000 attendees were anything but dampened. The domes of the Westminster Central Hall were buzzing with engaged chatter, as connections were made, and business cards were passed out like confetti.
I was only able to attend the event in the afternoon, due to a meeting that morning with the managing director of TechStars London at their Shoreditch office, but arrived in time to enjoy some interesting keynotes and workshops. Brian Gorbett, Global Head of Developer Advocacy at Intuit demystified the brain-boggling world of AI and Machine learning, and explained how startups of all shapes and sizes can start benefiting from their data. And Jean-Cristoph Taunay-Bucalo from TravelPerk shared tips on scaling as a SaaS company.
Most of my time was spent in one-to-one PR sessions with startups who had attended my presentation the day before. Over the course of a few hours, I was able to sit down with leaders from companies such as fast-growing payments, compliance, and risk fintech startup Paybase.io, 24/7 delivery service Peyk, and Legaltech startup Lexical Labs, to name a few.
However, in between meetings, I found the time to peruse the startup fair, and chat with a number of interesting up and coming enterprises from the UK and further afield. There was an abundance of crypto and fintech startups present, and I walked away with some interesting new connections for future clients and partners.
A big thanks to StartupGrind team for the opportunity to get involved, and with so much startup activity happening in London, Publicize will be sure to be spending more time in the ‘Big Smoke’ in the near future.
After a couple of weeks back in my remote office at Aticco Barcelona, I was back on the road again, this time to run a pair of workshops for the two of the StartupWiseGuys batches in the Baltics region.
StartupWiseGuys is one of the most active early stage investors in the broader CEE region and Nordics. Since its launch in 2012, SWG has accelerated more than 145 startups in 15 cohorts, focusing on B2B SaaS, fintech and cybersecurity.
Despite a large amount of competition from hundreds of accelerator programs across the region, SWG is held in high regard for really driving long term success for its cohort, boasting at least 1 major exit and an overall startup survival and success rate of above 77%.
The intensive 3-month accelerator programs based in Tallinn (Estonia), Vilnius (Lithuania) and Riga (Latvia) focus on validating, developing and selling products to business customers. I was honored to have been invited to join a community of 200 international and local mentors who offer their time to help startups move through those stages much faster than they would on their own.
The first stop on my Baltics tour was to Vilnius, Lithuania to run a workshop at the B2B SaaS program held at the futuristic Blockchain center, just 10minutes walk from the city’s famous old town area. Acting as a coworking space, and accelerator primarily for … you guessed it, crypto and blockchain startups, the Blockchain center offers a unique location for blockchain entrepreneurs, developers, investors, and regulators from around the world to share ideas, know-how, and best practices.
After a brief tour and introduction from Andra Bagdonaite, the program manager of the SaaS B2B batch, I jumped into an hour-long presentation on PR and marketing for growth, before sitting down to a busy afternoon of one-to-ones with all but one of the SWG batch startups.
One of the main takeaways from the afternoon was how important it is for B2B startups to focus their energies on the right channels which can really help them meet their target audiences: decision makers at enterprises.
While the knee-jerk reaction from scaling startups is to try and get themselves coverage on the biggest publications out there, such as TNW or TechCrunch, this may not actually be where their target audiences are spending their time.
A ‘big hitter’ result on a leading tech publication will always bring value in terms of SEO, traffic and brand visibility. However, in many cases, targeting regional, or industry-specific publications may be more efficient in actually meeting the PR goal of reaching decision makers at businesses. Not only are the chances higher for an up and coming startup to be covered on one of these publications, but the process will most likely be quicker, and easier too.
It was great to get the chance to grab lunch with some of the batch members, and also sit down and run through some PR strategies with them. This included different areas such as the importance of SEO, blog content, hooks to grab the media’s attention, and also highlighting storylines which would be most attractive to journalists.
After a lightning tour of the medieval old town of Vilnius the night before (and some amazing local cuisine at The Kitchen ) I was up bright and breezy for my BalticAir flight to Tallinn, Estonia.
After taking a tram into the jaw-droppingly beautiful old town of Tallinn (a UNESCO world heritage site), I headed straight to the SWG accelerator at Arsenal keskus, a former armory turned hipster startup hub/shopping mall.
It was the last day of the 3-month program, and the attendees to my workshop were notably tired, and looking forward to some well-earned post-program rest. While it took a while for them to warm to a presentation about media relations, startup storytelling, and PR for growth, I managed to muster a couple of weary smiles to my jokes and was pleased to receive a number of insightful comments, and suggestions throughout the session.
One of the main things attendees found interesting was the importance of startups making themselves relevant by tying into current trends and news stories.
This was particularly relevant for these founders, who all work in the cybersecurity space, a theme which clearly ties into emerging news stories so frequently. I explained the value of media monitoring keywords daily on Google News and also using tools like HARO to understand what the trending stories and conversations are online, to see where a startup can fit themselves in, and make their solution relevant.
After my session, and one-to-ones at CyberNorth, I had the rest of the Friday, and all Saturday to enjoy the sites in beautiful Tallinn, a city which finds a strangely comfortable mix between innovation and tradition. The hometown of Skype is buzzing with startup activity and areas like the Telliskivi Creative City, are reminiscent of East Berlin, packed with techie tattooed hipsters, craft beers and organic coffee galore.
Next stop, StartupExtreme conference in Voss, Norway. Check out our next blog post for more info.
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