Last year, my wife and family conspired to send me to the Super Bowl in Indianapolis. She and my family are awesome. I’m sure many people received such a gift. I’m sure many people took this gift, headed to Indianapolis, drank some beer, watched the game, and went home. I doubt that many people had my experience of meeting the eventual lead investor in their startup’s seed funding round.
I do credit this unfolding of events to divine providence, but it’s also an unlikely unlikely turn of events if you just stay in your hotel room. Going to the Super Bowl is memorable. It’s even more memorable if you watch Shark Tank next to Mark Cuban, get a last-minute pass to watch the Celebrity Beach Bowl, watch The Fray perform at the VIP after-party, get Priceline co-founder Scott Case’s $800 VIP pass to the Taste of the NFL, get into HDNet/axsTV’s invite-only party without an invite, watch the 2nd half of the Super Bowl from the 7th row on the 40 yard line, and meet Jimmy Fallon at his show after-party, where Katy Perry is chilling in the back with 10 of her friends.
Going to the Super Bowl is extremely memorable. Finding opportunity for awesome experiences in the creases around the Super Bowl is even more memorable, and such experiences come from hustle – a relentless desire to upgrade your experience.
Last year, I went to the SxSW [South by Southwest] Interactive conference for the first time, in my 1st year as a startup founder. SxSWi used to be small, offering the opportunity to meet Foursquare Founder Dennis Crowley and other startup “celebrities” with minimal effort. Last year, I heard many people dismiss SxSW as “played out” and “overrun by brands and agencies”. I saw this as an opportunity. Badgy works with brands and agencies, especially those with online commerce in their business. While I didn’t meet many “celebrities”, I met many people that Badgy can help, and with that comes an early startup’s real celebrity: revenue. It takes work, but it’s worth it.
Today and tomorrow, I’m at the Everywhere Else Conference in Memphis. I’m here because the conference runners asked me to come – they organized the party in Indianapolis where I met our lead investor, so coming here to speak on a panel is a small favor to return, and still a huge opportunity. I work VERY hard to avoid being the “Conference Ho” Mark Suster writes about, so I had to think about what opportunities would be available here.
First, there’s the funny dichotomy of investors. If you’re attending conferences hoping to meet investors who will fund you, just stop. Even profile venture conferences are largely entertainment and social gatherings, but by the same token, founders should always be ready to tell their story in a way that will intrigue investors. I do think we’ll meet some medium-size businesses that are good potential customers for us. With the startup bent of this conference, I fully expect many attendees to be far too early in their business for Badgy to help. I can give them some advice, which is worth what they’ll pay for it, but I’m constantly thinking about how to make this conference even more memorable.
So I’m looking ahead to SxSW. This year, we have a product that’s out in the market, so I’ll be working hard to meet potential customers. We have growing traction and money in the bank, which makes for an optimal time for whatever investor conversations may happen. Last year at SxSW, the most effective moments came either when I was holding a microphone or talking to people one-on-one. One opportunity for both of these is the SxSW VC Fast Pitch event. I’ve found that the awesome #ee2013 audience has been kind enough to help vote for us – we’re in the top 5 now, and need a few more votes to make our selection a certainty – to share our story and get individual conversations with people who can help. If you’ve taken the time to read this far, please take another 60 seconds (or less) to vote for Badgy for this event, helping us make the massive event of SxSW a more memorable event. I’ll look forward to coming back here and telling the story of how you helped us make a memorable event more memorable.