TechChill 2018 is just around the corner and we're starting to look into the specifics of conference survival. Here we'll go over the essentials you need to know to be best prepared for the event.
Geography - getting your bearings
Riga isn't a large city, but a city nonetheless. It will only take you a few seconds to understand the city's layout, and that will serve you very well while at the event itself.
The venue for TechChill this year is at the VEF Culture Palace - it's slightly outside of what's considered the city center, but is a 15 minute ride down the main street - Brivibas Street.
At the very center we've got the old town. This is a concentrated area where you can see the beautiful architecture and history of the city. It's also a great place to find food and nightlife.
From the old town start the street that runs straight through the city - Brivibas street. If you follow that street along, you'll eventually come across the main venue.
We've put together a map with the main TechChill venue locations.
Get the Google Maps layer here:
Where to stay in Riga?
Accommodation in Riga has a wide range and can suit different budgets. Hostels are available for those looking for a more frugal option, and there are many hotels both close to the venue (the Days Hotel is most likely the closest option) as well as in the city center if you're looking for comfort.
The TechChill team has arranged special deals with 10 hotels around the city. Take a look at the offers and get the booking details here.
Getting around the city - public transit and taxi
Riga is a compact city with its main attractions densely packed, meaning it's quite walkable. That being said, the venue is a bit outside of the city center, and you might be well-served to get acquainted with the most convenient methods of transportation.
Taxi services are widely available around the city.
Other taxis, such as Baltic Taxi (recognizable by their bright green exterior) and the Red Cab take card payment, however other cabs may only take cash.
Bonus: The TechChill team in cooperation with Taxify has provided conference attendees with a special discount. Use the promo code “TechChill” to get a discount on your first ride. Find out more here.
Public transit runs regularly and often, from the early morning to just about midnight.
The TechChill venue is easily accessible by public transit from the city center. You can get to the venue by bus, tram or trolley - it's really up to you. Here's a quick list of transit options that work to get to the venue:
Tram - 1, 3, 6 from the city center going towards the “Jugla” direction
Bus - Nr. 1 (direction- “Berģuciems”), 14 (direction- “Zvēraudzētava”), 21 (direction- “Jugla”), 40 (direction- “Jugla”)
Trolley - Nr. 12 (direction- “Šmerlis”)
The TechChill venue is at the Gustava Zemgala Gatve stop.
Public transit tickets are best bought in advance, as the price doubles if you buy the tickets from the driver. One ticket is 1.15eur, and you can buy several tickets on one card. You can buy tickets at Narvesen kiosks that are readily available around the city, most Rimi grocery stores and Statoil or Circle K gas stations.
Enjoy free and fast wifi in Riga
Rigas has hundreds of public, free wifi access points throughout the city - the area around the TechChill venue is no exception (including the TechChill venue itself).
The closest free city wifi access points to the Venue include the Circle K gas station, as well as the Daily restorant. Take a look at the map to find the closest access points. The blue point are free.
To connect to the free wifi, choose the “Lattelecom-free” network, open your browser, choose “connect”, and watch the 15 second ad. One connection will last for 30 mins, afterwards you'll have to re-connect using the same method.
Also, most cafes have their own wifi access point - simply ask the servers for access.
Book your side events and afterparties
Make sure to take a look at the side events before coming to Riga, to make sure that you get the most out of the event itself. Not to mention, parties are a mandatory element, and let's be honest, where the real networking happens.
Events we suggest:
Startup Wise Guys Demo Day
When? Feb. 7th, 18:00-20:00
Where? Teikums coworking space
Why? Get to know the latest batch of the Startup Wise Guys B2B accelerator, check out what they've been working on, and experience first-hand the innovations you'll be seeing tomorrow.
Find out more
Taxify Dealmaking party
When? Feb. 8th, 19:00 - ?
Where? K.K. Fon Stricka Villa
Why? It is the place to be.
Find out more
Note: last year this venue didn't accept cards. Make sure to bring some cash!
When? Feb. 9th, 21:00 - ?
Where? VEF Culture Palace
Why? Celebrate the end of a successful conference and build those newly formed relationships. It will be a blast. Also, there will be a sauna. Prepare.
Note: Investor and Executive Pass holders are encouraged to take a look at the other side events that are only available to their passes.
Bring warm clothes
February in Riga is generally cold and dark. This year it looks like it will be living up to these expectations - the weather forecast says we should expect weather between -8 and -4 degrees, with some snow.
Bring a warm coat - you'll be able to check it at the venue. A hat, scarf, and warm boots will be necessary to brave the streets of Riga.
Take a moment to marvel at the architecture
The conference venue itself - the VEF Culture Palace - is an architectural monument in itself, let along the rich architecture of the city around it.
The Culture Palace was built in the 1960s of Soviet Latvia, and was recently renovated. TechChill will be the first major event held in the palace since its re-opening.
If you find yourself with a spare moment, make sure to wander over the Art Nouveau district to enjoy the elaborate artistry of the buildings.
Make the first move
One of the traits that are usually noted about Latvians is their extreme shyness*. But once you get past that barrier, you'll discover a loyal friend and possibly a business partner or contact. So don't be shy, make the first move and watch your conversation unfold.
*A sure-fire way to bond with a Latvian is over a beer. Just another reason to make it to the afterparties.