Lessons Learned from TechCrunch50
As mentioned in the previous post, SeatGeek launched last week at TechCrunch50. It was a superb experience from all angles–the publicity for our young site, the exposure to investors, the feedback from a hyper-educated group of potential users and, most importantly, the frenzied fun of it all.
There are already some great advice posts for TC50 companies. Alistair Croll & Sean Power covered how to handle the TC50 bump, Mark Suster discussed how to avoid letting the event irreparably distract you, and the folks at Expensify wrote about how to work a DemoPit booth like a pro. But we have a few thoughts about how to handle the actual pragmatics of launching a company at TC50. I’ll skip over the obvious to-dos like hosting locally, printing enough business cards to take down a small forest, etc. Beyond those…
- “Lock in” your site a week before the event
A week prior to the event, finalize the TC50 version and don’t let anyone push a new version to the live server after the lock in time. Making changes up till the last minute is an invitation for a random bug to work its way into the version you present on stage. You want a solid week to test things with your alpha/beta users and make sure everything is bulletproof. More broadly, to be as successful as possible you’re going to want to do plenty of non-coding preparation before the conference. A firm lock in time lets you do this freely.
- Practice responding to questions as much as you practice your presentation
This was our biggest regret. We practiced our presentation ad nauseam, but we were under prepared for the questions from the judges, and one question in particular caught us off guard. Write down every question you might be asked and figure out how you’d respond to each. The best way to build a list of questions is to pitch to smart people and see what they ask afterwards.
- Take advantage of your DemoPit time
After presenting on stage all teams are given a table in the “DemoPit”. We were shocked by how some companies never even bothered to set up in their booth. Don’t make that mistake. Many DemoPit companies that didn’t present on stage paid thousands of bucks to attend (between the conference entrance fee, airline tickets, hotels, etc). They were willing to drop money on a DemoPit slot because a DemoPit booth exposes a company to dozens of investors and influential new users. As an aside, it’s a major boon to be one of the first companies to present, since you get more time in the DemoPit. But you can’t control that, as the event organizers set the schedule.
- Use the press list that TC50 gives you to your advantage
The organizers gave presenting companies a list of all media folks attending the event. It’s a freaking gold mine. Right after we presented we contact everyone on the list that we thought would be interested in SeatGeek. This ended up landing us a few stories in big-time publications.
- Book your return flight a week after the event ends
If you’re coming from outside CA, make sure you stick around after the event. If all goes well you may have meetings with investors and other interested parties, and you’ll want to strike while the iron is hot.