Startup Dilemma: Parties, Contests, Events. Should you really be There?

Quote Roller is a project that helped me to learn a lot of things. This is the first time I’ve joined the tech and startup community, participated in all kinds of competitions, events and so on. I’ve travelled a lot in the past 6 months, trying to promote and spread the word about Quote Roller. At the same time, I’m now being frequently asked about the outcome of those events. And not just by myself!

So, for me, there were quite a few pros and cons. Which ones that are relevant to you, will depend on your startup. I’ll just write down what matters to me.

zuk vs actor
... those guys have a different story (the guy on the left is an actor who played Zuk in the Social Network)


  1. It was hell of a damn expensive to travel to those startup events. Usually all the big events are hosted in large cities, where hotels are expensive and restaurants aren’t cheap. Add in airfare and you’ll get a nice total that could have been spent on product development. And finally, some events are not free to enter.
  2. Events take a lot of energy and time. When working on a startup, the last thing you want to do is waste time. Both Serge and I have been to Silicon Valley for a month to attend all kinds of events. We thought the development won’t slow down that much without the founders. However, we were wrong. The work on the project took twice as long as it should.
  3. Some events promise prizes. However, there is no guarantee you are going to get them, even if you win (I’m not talking about the events I’ve written about here, these were bad experiences elsewhere)
  4. startup doll
    ... I am a pretty startup

    Because startup events are somewhat akin to an MTV show, some people start to think that building and launching a startup is similar to being some kind of celebrity (just be awesome, go to events, talk to successful people, find an investor, build something social and then it’s going to go viral). Hell no, it’s much harder than this. Startup events and movies like Social Network don’t really show all the long days and nights of routine work real entrepreneurs put in to their business.

With all the above in mind, I have to say that, to me, startup events are still worth  attending. And here’s why:

  1. You get to meet and know the PR people, bloggers and other influential folks who may be interested in what you do. It’s much easier to pitch a journalist you know. Btw, here is a good article on how to do that (and how not to).
  2. If your startup depends on integrations just like Quote Roller, you may meet integration partners right at these events and parties. We were lucky to meet a founder of RightSignature, folks from Chargify, Freshbooks, etc. Integrations are not just about making your product better, they also open new distribution channels.
  3. You may find potential customers at these events. However, don’t expect that it’s possible to get loads of these.
  4. You grow your network, which really helps to reach to the people you need in the future.
  5. They really inspire. You may meet a lot of people that are much smarter than you (definitely smarter then me), talk to them, get their thoughts on how to improve and market your product and just become friends. It’s important to come out of the cave from time to time and get fresh new ideas flowing in your head.

To sum up, it is totally up to you to attend one of the events like TC Disrupt, Demo, Launch, SXSW, etc. It’s just like going to the bar with your team. Doing this every day and getting addicted to hard alcohol will totally harm you. However, occasional drink-togethers can actually be very fun and positive.


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