How to effectively present your startup at Web Summit. The UBOS experience
Web Summit is the largest technology conference in the world. And you need to responsibly prepare for it because the task of Ukrainian companies is not only to present themselves but also to present Ukraine as a technological country with a large IT cluster and powerful innovation potential. Many successful Ukrainian companies and startups were presented at this year’s summit, including EASE residents – the company UBOS. Yuriy Kostyuchenko, UBOS’s development director, told the story of the startup’s preparation for such a large-scale event.
1) How did your team get to Web Summit 2022?
We did not apply directly. Ukrainian Startup Fund (USF) and GIST selected startups to be presented at the summit. We applied there and passed. They selected 24 Ukrainian startups, including us, out of 100 applicants.
2) How did you prepare for the Web Summit?
We faced the central question – positioning.
Our main goal is to launch PaaS (Platform as a Service) models. We strive to provide users with a product that enables them to implement the technological solutions they need to grow their businesses. Each UBOS user not only gets access to the development environment but also becomes a member of a large-scale innovative community of low-code engineers.
The goal became the basis of the UBOS positioning at the Web Summit. We show ourselves as we are and demonstrate what we can do and how our product can help innovate businesses.
It was our first attempt to get to an event of this scale, and it was immediately successful because we approached this issue conscientiously.
3) What were the stages of preparation for the event?
There were several of them, and they were not too simple.
Make a decision to apply
It is one thing to submit an application “for luck,” and another is to approach it carefully because it is essential both for us and Ukraine. We are our country’s representatives, and it is not worth making thoughtless decisions about participating in such events. Having created an innovative product, you can become a worthy delegation member. The second stage follows from this.
Determine what we are demonstrating
UBOS is a true ecosystem. It is very challenging to explain to people in a concise form and a short period of what it is. We went through many metamorphoses until we decided what we would present to the world community.
Before Web Summit, we participated in Unicorn Pitch Day and Startup Competition at IT Arena, so we already had experience in pitching. We received feedback from specialists, which we relied on in preparation for the summit. Most importantly, we gained a deeper understanding of our users’ needs and difficulties.
Properly present ourselves
At first, we tried to include absolutely everything about our product in the Pitch Deck. However, a lot of information is only sometimes good. Even before the summit, we took away everything that confused people that did not allow them to understand who we were and what we were about.
We came to the Web Summit very motivated, and we were able to implement everything planned. The girls presented the real project live at the stand: they demonstrated the UBOS editors, with the help of which you can easily create a system prototype and, by clicking on the “deploy” button, see the result. Users saw every change we made in the published project in real-time. That’s what the attendees loved and what allowed us to get a lot of important contacts from the summit.
Take advantage of all the opportunities of the summit
It is about the event itself. In addition to a clear understanding of the purpose of being at the event, it is necessary to join proposals from the summit. Web Summit gives you a mobile application, a kind of mini-LinkedIn, where you search for potential leads, communicate with them, invite them to the stand, etc. This is an important stage in communication that should not be underestimated or overlooked.
4) How long was your preparation?
We started preparing for the summit in August to present our company and product well. Applying was a joint idea of the whole team. We decided that we had a particular goal at the summit – to present UBOS. Therefore, we prepared communication in the application, trained specialists who represented the company at the stand and resolved organizational issues.
5) Did you estimate the budget for your participation?
USF and GIST included us in the startup delegation from Ukraine, which covered our ticket and stand expenses. And we are very grateful to them for this. On our own, we closed the issue of housing rent, flights, and meals. To be honest, we didn’t count what the total amount would be without this support. In terms of organizing our trip, we were in such good hands that we didn’t even think about it.
6) What results did your team go home with?
The most incredible moment for me personally was when Olena Zelenska and Mykhailo Fedorov approached our stand. The engineer showed them our platform and answered their questions. It was one of the brightest moments.
If we talk about more practical things, I liked the most that people with whom we had not previously agreed to meet in the application came to us. These were people who went to the Ukrainian pavilion where Ukrainian startups were presented, looked at our product, wanted to access the platform and try UBOS for themselves and understood its value. At the very least, they were interested in the possibilities of our technology, at the most – in implementing the UBOS technology to accelerate the process of innovation and product development in their own companies.
When we were going to the summit, we expected to get feedback from our target audience, which would allow us to understand their problems and needs better. We got them, and now we clearly understand the vector of our further development. Remarkably, we received even more than expected. We expected to have a lot of communication – we got it, although only some of the planned meetings took place.
The goal for the next event of such a format is to show our technology to an even larger audience.
7) How can a startup understand that it is ready to participate in competitions and other events?
There will always be a percentage of uncertainty, but you should try yourself in different events. You tried, received feedback, improved the product or presentation, and tried to present yourselves at the next event. And it will not be far from the summit.
8) What advice can you give to startups participating in similar events?
- Prepare in advance.
- Understand what and to whom you want to show and what result you expect from the event.
If you are looking for investments, look for investors who invest in startups similar to yours and arrange a meeting with them. If you are looking for ways to introduce your product to someone, study your customer carefully, separate them from other teams/products/customers, and talk to the people whose problems your product solves.
- Assemble a strong team.
Our team consisted of the CEO and myself, a BizDev, and a marketer. We put all our thoughts into pitches, which our mentors and advisors then reviewed. At the summit, an engineer and Chief Product Officer represented UBOS. Our office worked remotely and helped with communications and planning.
9) What is the central insight of your participation in Web Summit 2022?
Stay focused. We knew where we were going and what it was for. We had been preparing for a long time and were 100% “armed.” Prior planning also helped to concentrate. We agreed in advance on meetings with people who were interesting to us and whom we were interested in. So there was a precise timing of all our activities. We actively attended events within the summit’s framework, where we could communicate and share experiences with people with common interests and goals. It was a truly winning combination.