One day a friend came by the office to collect some stuff he forgot. While being here he asked me whether I will be joining Wolves Summit, but I told him that it is the first time I hear about this event and have to check it first. So I visited their website, saw the list of speakers, saw the location and the brand identity and immediately bought a ticket. Because good speakers, wolves and Gdynia are the things I really like:)
To enjoy beautiful Trójmiasto (which I strongly encourage you to visit) I arrived few days earlier and thanks to that decision I was able to start the event with the Monday networking thingy. I met some old friends, got few new ones and the atmosphere I felt at that meeting made me feel that the following three days are gonna be fantastic.
On Tuesday, eager to learn a lot of new things I went to Ninja Negotiations by Arnon Barnes. It was a perfect beginning of the day - a lot of energy in the room - American style. Arnon wanted to convey to us main rules for successful negotiations:
1. Be honest 2. Give reason why you want to get something 3. Never go first 4. When your problem comes from the heart, people will want to help you "Colombo strategy" 5. Never negotiate with an idiot 6. Show/create competition and a timeline 7. Invest in relationship = "give a shit"
But the underlying rule for all of them is the need to help people - only then will you achieve more. The last 30 minutes of the presentation were a bit worse, because he actually was selling his mentoring but all in all - it was a great lecture.
Next stop was the main stage and Eric Edmeades talking about inception marketing. Another energetic talk with great story telling. He noticed that only about 3% of people want to buy your product right now, so we actually must make them realize that they need it. And the groups we should target are most preferably the people who are unaware of the product or even better - people who are disinterested. Why? Because if we succeed to "convert" them - they will be the most loyal users ever. And what is the best way to convince them? Storytelling. Show them stories of people overcoming their problems using your product/service and they will follow. The idea is that you cannot advertise - you must make them think that buying this particular product or service was their idea all along (just like in movie "inception").
Unfortunately I couldn't stay till the end or Erics' talk, as I rushed to hear Martin Henk talk about moving his company to Silicon Valley and the amazing results in sales that followed. He showed us how getting into the right accelerator gave him a great amount of exceptional knowledge and contacts, that allowed him to think of a better way of selling and expanding. Buy the way I strongly encourage you to try his software - Pipedrive.com - sales CRM.
Next point in my schedule was Michał Sadowski, founder of Brand24 - one of the most successful polish startup. At this point I must say that his presentation was one of the best - design wise. The knowledge we received was also very good. We realized that there is no need of being afraid of competition - in fact 63% of top 500 US startups actually took an existing idea and made it better. He also told us to experiment a lot, use as many existing tools as possible, never wait too long with the product launch and to use slideshare/YouTube marketing.
Unfortunately I couldn't stay at his presentation till the end, as I went to hear Doug Brown talking about proven ways to increase revenue by 25%. It was a pleasure to hear such experienced person. He taught us many interesting techniques, but the most important things were:
- Get more referrals - Help people whenever you can and do not sell while doing it - they will come back to you - Speak in front of a group - Nurture your leads - Follow-up better
Naturally there was a lot more to it, but I think these points cover the essence. I strongly encourage you to google for his presentations.
Next came Piotr Bucki with amazing lecture about pitching - a right man in the right place, because during first two days over 60 startups were pitching in front of Jury in order to win 50k$. So Piotr showed us how to pitch from a scientific point of view. Our brains love stories and we learned how to tell a story that grabs your audience by heart.
The ideal structure of a pitch is: 1. Big idea 2. Problem 3. Solution 4. Potential 5. Value proposition 6. Demo 7. Money 8. Team 9. Your estimates
and most of all - SMILE! I must say that when I saw this lecture and thought of the best pitches I have seen all the thing he showed us just felt so right and so true.
The last lecture on Tuesday was given by Damian Winkowski. He showed us how a good development house (DeSmart) became even better and more successful by creating their own startups. I totally agree with everything I saw on his presentation and as some of you know Visuality is also on a similar track right now:)
At the end of the day we joined a great party at Zatoka Sztuki in Sopot - a perfect ending of a great day.
Second day was named the "silicon valley" day as all the main stage lectures were given by people from California. I started this day with something different though - a panel held by Oksana Hoshva. The topic was the cooperation between startups and large corporations. A very interestic topic - I personally strongly believe in cooperation with larger companies as an important factor in startups' success.
Right after this I went to main stage to hear Vitaly Golomb talk about startups in Europe. He talked a lot about doing startup in Europe, and not focusing on entering US markets from the start. European startups have lower seed investment costs, as the work force is cheaper and the exits are higher in comparison to those investments. He also showed us the importance of measuring everything throughout a startup lifecycle, as we can get a lot of good knowledge just by looking at the data collected.
Next lecture given by Jonathan Romley showed when a startup has actually a chance of being bought by big international players. The main point was to solve a universal problem. The product you make cannot be country-dependent, so probably no consumer/ecommerce product. Other important thing is finding experienced investors and managers that already made few exits, because no exits means no help. Finally he made a very valid point "companies are not bough, they are sold" encouraging everybody to take action, and not wait to be bought by Facebook:)
Later on I went to hear Vitaly Golomb again, this time talking about pitching, and again he had an amazing presentation. He stressed out the importance of body language and voice control. He was also another person to notice the fact that people do not smile enough and do not look others in the eyes.
Right after all those great pitching advices I learned a lot about controlling your startups' cash flow. Mike Sigal was showing the audience his tool - CashFlower - and showed some important metrics that will allow us to control the burn rate and the "zero cash date" - a moment when you run out of cash. Very, very important lesson to be learned:)
Due to some technical issues (a lot of lectures on the main stage were moved/changed) that was all I learned on day two. At 8 p.m. I headed to VIP party, where I had a chance to meet all the speakers and investors. It took place in a lovely Italian restaurant just by the beach in Gdynia.
This day, similar to day first, I started with attending Arnon Barnes lecture. This time he was speaking about raising millions of euros easily. It was actually a bit similar to the one I heard before, but few new interesting things appeared:) One of them was the law of proximity which can be described as this: if you hang out with nine losers, you will be tenth one. If you hang out with nine successful people, you will be successful too. How true is that? He also stressed the fact that people do not care about your product, they care about you - and if they like you, they will buy from you. Remember my post from StartupCamp Berlin? Kind of similar conclusions, right? Than he showed us 6 mistakes that people make when raising capital:
1. They bring ego to the table 2. They lie 3. They do not know what they are asking for 4. They go for the kill instantly 5. They do not invest in relationship 6. They are not trustworthy
All in all his talk was very inspiring and energetic. Later on I went to hear about flattening the company structure - a meeting held by Tomasz Szymański. A very inspiring and interesting story of a company (Software Mill) that is 100% remote, and 100% flat - meaning that every person can make decisions and every information is available to everybody.
After him Piotr Cygan appeared on the same stage and showed us the importance of being in media and the most successful ways of getting published. By appearing in media we achieve three main things - trust, authority and coverage. On the other hand, it is not easy to get there. Journalists are very sensitive about advertisement, so the content has to be really good and ad-free. He stated that 85% of the success is the right communication, not the knowledge itself, and the main mistakes are:
1. Errors in communication 2. Bad target group 3. Mistakes in the texts prepared (seriously!) 4. Copyrighters writing our texts 5. No solid data, no numbers, no sources
After that he showed 7 ways to successfully appear in media:
1. Know your media 2. Good networking (meet the journalists) 3. Ask for their needs 4. Know the target group of the media you use 5. Create a good quality content 6. Create it in a form that is suitable for the media you use 7. "Think different"
Just after this lecture I came down to the main stage and found Maciej Wawrzuta talking about creating quality content. Unfortunately he talked more about his company services, so he did not had much more to add to the things I learned few minutes earlier.
Just after a short break Rodney Sampson, an Angel Investor from USA appeared on stage and talked about strategies that young startups should use when starting their business and searching for capital. The main idea is "you cannot withdraw from the ecosystem, until you invest in the ecosystem". This sentence made him another person that pointed out the importance of helping others and getting involved in the community. He also mentioned main problems with entrepreneurs:
1. They cannot handle rejection 2. They quit too soon 3. They do not dream big enough 4. They prepare long business plans instead of business canvas 5. They do not know how to pitch
He also stressed out the importance of having a mentor, and surrounding yourself with people much smarter than you, because only than you will achieve great results.
And that concluded the third day.
Here I have actually only two points. One of them is that a lot of people do not smile - they do not try to be enthusiastic about their product. Second thing is - they do not describe their product simply enough - there was actually a few pitches that I could not understand, because the authors could not explain what they were doing - and one of them even got to the finals!
To sum up
I must say I really enjoyed the event. Organizers did a good job gathering such great speakers and I think all of us are grateful to them for doing it. They will have to work on the technical issues though - a lot of people from the staff had very little idea what was going on, a lot of investors didn't show up for the speed dates and you could sometimes feel the chaos taking over the wheel. But this was the first time Wolves Summit was organized and I am willing to look away, as I strongly believe the next edition will be much better organized.
And if I were to sum up the summit by one sentence it definitely would be: "Smile, be enthusiastic about what you do, learn a lot and you will create amazing startups".