So, you are going to make the trip to the Mesh Conference in Toronto? Well, let’s take a look at it from a web startup’s point of view and see what we should, and shouldn’t, be doing.
First off, how far along are you? If you are just in the idea stage, I suggest you get some screenshots done at the very least. You’ll want to have a laptop with you that you can whip open and start pouring the kool-aid with about your amazing product X.
For the sanity of everyone else there, don’t try to be coy about your startup. If someone asks you a question, you should answer it right away. Do not humm and haw. If you don’t like their question, tell them straight up that you don’t want to, or can’t, answer that question. It saves them from thinking “what’s going on here” and it saves you 10 seconds of a racing heartbeat.
Are you looking for funding? If so, figure out how much and who you want it from. Don’t waste too much time in the actual sessions, there are always smart people around to talk to.
Please, take as good as you give. If you burst in to a conversation, or start a conversation with a pitch, nobody is going to listen to you. You will be that guy.
Make sure you take a look at the presenters list and see if there is anyone there you want to meet. Mesh is a small enough conference that the presenters are pretty much just audience members who get up on stage once or twice.
For the guys: The next step is to remove Amber Mac from the list you just made.
Did you sign up for the 15 minutes of fame thing? You should. I am sure there will be a mix of very early to very late stage companies giving their pitch, you’ll fit right in.
Depending on the stage you are at, there are a lot of people you’ll want to meet at Mesh. Scott Brooks (and his business partner Bernie) and Leila are two of my favorite people in Toronto, and both have a lot understanding of how things work. It was at the last Mesh that Scott got his startup on track to funding.
I don’t know him, but Austin Hill seems to be a perpetual connector and genuine guy who really wants to do what is good for Canadian startups.
Try not to clamor at Rick Segal too much, I bet he’s a little tired of it. That said, he makes time for everyone, and you never hear a bad thing about him or his VC firm JLA Ventures. If you really have a great idea, Rick will make time for you.
I won’t be there, so I need someone to get a look at Jian Ghomeshi‘s jeans and estimate if you think he paid a) $200 or b) $300 for them. That guy can dress!
Then there is Mike Arrington. Hearts will skip a beat, startup stomachs will turn, palms will go sweaty. I have watched Mike from across the room at my share of parties, and wow — people are shameless when it comes to pitching him on their company. Since this is Canada, there is going to be a lot less of that, so why not take the chance? This guy falls asleep to the sound of startups pitching him outside his window, so you’re going to have to have that elevator pitch in good shape before you start babbling on to him. Chances of getting profiled in TechCrunch? My guess is 1 in 1000. Chances of getting profiled on StartupNorth? 1000 in 1.
Will there be angel investors there? You can bet they will be mixed in the crowd, mingling around and wondering what cool startups are in their midst. They will not be advertising themselves and holding a money clip full of $1000 bills. How does that religious scripture go? Entertaining Angels. They could be anywhere. Be someone people want to talk to, they’ll tell you who they are.
Oh yeah, you’ve probably been putting off getting business cards until now. Go ahead and spend $100 and get some. They actually are useful.
And don’t forget that Mark Evans has made the call for Startups to get interviewed with him, take advantage of that.
I’ll admit, for a startup the Mesh schedule is pretty weak on content, but that is not the point of going. Meet interesting people, be interesting to other people. This is the only conference in Canada that provides this level of people-meeting. It is the #2 web conference behind Northern Voice and easily the #1 conference for startups.
Are you going to be at Mesh? Post a comment below and let us know. We are going to look in to having a startup party the night before the conference gets started.