TechChill Day 1: Highlights and takeaways

The biggest tech conference of the Baltics, TechChill, is underway. We put together the highlights of day 1 of the two day conference if you couldn't attend. 

The conference located in the architectural beauty - the National Libraby of Latvia - has officially kicked off. TechChill brings together the best speakers and panelists to support the startups of the region and build on their knowledge. 

Instead of sitting through the day's worth of conference, we've put together the highlights of the day of the most memorable ideas, and concentrated the top tips and actionable ideas. 

Ben Costantini - How to hack a conference

Ben kicking off the conference made a lot of sense - he went through ideas on how to make the most of a conference, thus, setting up all of the attendees for successful conference-going. Some of the ideas are truly novel, and Ben himself admitted, not necessarily 100% legal. Here are some of them:

  • Start a blog - The idea being that if you have a blog where you write about events, conferences will be happy to compensate your ticket as a "media" participant. 
  • Hang out at the speaker hotel - if you want to connect to the important people, you'll most likely by able to find them at the speakers' hotel lobby.
  • Steal a wristband - different wristbands have different access. Take advantage of the overstressed conference employees to nab a better wristband for yourself. Note: only do this with a partner in crime who can distract the employee.
  • Hack the hashtag - use the conference hashtag to popularize your message, even a few days before the event.
  • Get the mic - if you can get the mic, you don't have to give your pitch, but at least make it clear what you do, so that others can approach you (because now they know what you do).

 Ben's humorous addition was noting that communication at tech conferences is hard - the attendees, usually tech people, "aren't expected to be able to talk. To do the "drinks thing", the 'hi hi, haha". Nailed it.  

Yael Elad - Negotiating tips from a VC perspective

Yael offered direct insight to how to manage negotiations. They're so simple yet genius, that you'll wonder why you didn't think of that yourself. Then again, it's always easier said than done. Yael knows this, as she also emphasized the need to practice your pitch. 

  • Avoid hardballing - hardballing (giving a "yes" or "no" option) is not suggested. It puts you in a corner really quickly, and if you land yourself in the "no" category, it's harder to get back than if you landed somewhere in between "yes" and "no". 
  • Make the first offer - show initiative, as well as set the platform for your negotiations.
  • Don't accept the first offer 
  • Use silence as a tool - Use silence. People will invariable fill it.
  • If you can't negotiate price, negotiate content

Yael's message that interwove her entire speech was that you should avoid cornering yourself, and always leave an open position for negotiation. 

Twino panel - experience sharing

Twino, the conference's major sponsor, talked about their expierience in growth. Notably, they's a startup with 600 employees and no VC investments over the 7 years of their existance. Impressive, right? 

  • Find your business model + earning method from day 1 - then you avoid investor-related headaches: having to worry about exponentially growing your income, relinquisihing control over your company.
  • Skill set is important "You want someone on the board who's been there, done that" - Armands. 
  • How to do a culture check for employees? Initially - this was based on gut feeling. Afterwards, they developed the 5 As. Ability, Ambition, Active, Autonomy, Agile.
  • Don't assume you know everything - every country's different. For that reason, even if you've successfully broken into 8 markets, it doesn't mean the 9th with be the same.
  • You can't be in fintech from scratch - you need to be working in the industry first to be able to spot a problem you can solve. Then you can go off and solve that problem. 

When asked about their biggest failure, the Twino founders recounted the story of how they attempted to break into the Mexican market. As it turned out, the local reality was quite different to what they had to deal with. 

Best practives in B2B Sales - Fil Guijarro

One of possibly Fil's most memorable quotes was: "Sales is a company-wide responsibility."

The idea behind the quote was that absolutely everyone in the company should be working towards closing the sale. Each person in your team, regardless of their role, should be able to sell the excellence of the area that they're responsible for. From being able to speak well about how your product fulfills your customers' needs, to how well the code is written. 

Fil mentioned a few cornerstones of the sales process:

  • Who, what? You should be explaining who are you, what your motivation is, and why you started your company. 
  • What's in it for the client - This is where your sales value proposition comes in, as you should always be formulating your offer in the end-result and what it solves for the cient
  • How are you unique - Here you mention your unique value proposition.
  • How does it work? Often when people try to sell their product, they start by explaining about the 1 month free trial and a all the different feautures. But what you should be doing before hand is explaining how it works. Only then do you get into the specifics. 

Fil highly suggests using a CRM, as it can practically replace any need for a sales director, at least for the first few years of your startup's development. 

Fil recommends investing highly in a sales team, even regardless of how young of a startup you are. What you don't need, is the sales director. You can even outsource sales to students and freelancers. His #1 tip? Just make sure to share your vision. 

Marc Lamic - one-size fits all product managament...not

Marc is a busy guy - not only has he set up 2 TechHubs, his company, Zalando, is soon to be the largest tech employer in Europe. He knows a thing or two about product management.

Marc emphasizes that intuition is the most valuable skill of a product manager. Not everyone has it, which is why it's important to learn different methodologies. He used this slide to emphasize his point:

  • You are not Steve Jobs! Which is why us regular people have to develop our intuiton by reading, learning and doing. 
  • Customer research is amust - outside of your 
  • Data is your biggest enemy, and your biggest friend. A good product manager needs to spend 20-30 mins/day to analyze the product data. You really have to dig in to make an educated decision. You have to let the data simmer to collect enough. 
  • You are not a lonely rider - you need to work together with your engineers: tell them your vision, the overall goals, tell them the purpose of what you're doing. 

Lauren Proctor -How to become worth remembering

Dare to be - this was Lauren's answer to the above-mentioned question. She mainained that this is what all memorable people have in common. She had 10 commandments to make that happen, here are some of those that stood out:

  • Give people what they want
  • Figure out when they want it - when are people suseptible to your message? During the weekend, in the middle of the day?
  • Give it to the people with courage - Lauren used examples of people who are unapologetic in what they do - Kanye, Trump. Whether or not you like them, they certainly are memorable.
  • Refine with Google tools - Google Analytics, Google Search Console
  • Nurture others - the idea of what goes around, comes around. If you live life with an attitude of abundance, it will materialize.

Another memorable idea from Lauren was the concept of adjacent possible - the idea is that when we're creating innovation, there's only a certain amount of jump you can make. For exmaple,in the medieval times, you can't create the internet. What you can create is only just past the current possibility.

What memorable ideas have in common, Lauren states, is that successful ideas tap into deep human desires. Similarly, she reminded us of any reason anybody does anything - for sex, love, power, or to look cool. 

All in all, a memorable presentation. Lauren has proven that she know's her stuff.  

Hampus Jakobsson - Raising from angel investors

 Here we've got a presentation that's crucial for those who are looking to raise from investors. Some of the takeaways were so simple, but genius.

  • Investors are people too - talk to them like human beings
  • Everyone, including investors, makes decisions based on emotion. You have to appeal to that emotion - make them feel that you, as a leader, have it in you to bring your startup to success. Data is only necessary to back up that gut feeling. 

One of Hampus' most vivid analogies was to think of angel investment as a marriage. Walking out of the church as a newlywed doesn't mean it's over, it's just begun. That goes the same for having raised investment. If you're unhappy with your investor, you'll be unhappy in day-to-day life. You need an investor that supports you, encourages you, and helps you along the way. 

Asia Lundsay - The tangible benefits of community

Asia, community manager of TopTal, the company that brings together top-tier digital nomads. This presentation emphasized why you should create a community. Here are some of the tangible benefits that Asia listed:

  • your clients are more difficult to lure away, as they become more emotionally invested in your company
  • you get a lot of user feedback that can lead to good ideas
  • it's free marketing - it raises brand awareness, people will share images with your swag

All in all, the message is, if you love your users, they will love you back. 

A chill event

TechChill does its name justice as being an undoubtedly a laid back event. In addition to the state-of-the-art presenting room on the first floor of the National Library, the "underground" floor was a great lounge space for networking, grabbing a barista-made coffee, an live-streamed video of what was going on in the main conference hall, and even a business card column for those looking for a job. 

And that's day 1 in a nutshell! Stay tuned for highlights from day 2!