With a limited pre-sale of 2 for 1 tickets for Web Summit 2015 happening tomorrow, it would appear that Web Summit 2014 is by now, old news.
However, for the 22,000 people who descended on Dublin’s RDS last week, it was a tech conference worth writing home about - not least because emailing, Facebook-ing or Whatsapp-ing home about it would’ve been more hassle than it was worth given the great debacle that was wifi coverage at the event, or the lack thereof . . .
And while Web Summit, day 1, had Eva Longoria and Taoiseach Enda Kenny ringing the NASDAQ bell from Centre Stage, for Clinch, it all kicked off on day 2.
Wednesday, Nov. 5th, Web Summit: Day 2
Delighted to be exhibiting as a BETA startup, we arrived bright and early Wednesday morning, ready to set up shop and welcome visitors to our stand in the Enterprise Summit.
Having never experienced Web Summit in any capacity prior to the previous day’s walk around, Clinch developer Steve and I weren’t quite sure what to expect from our first day at the booth.
Here’s what we learned:
- Sore feet and tired voices are par for the course.
- If in doubt, BYOW: bring your own water.
Web Summit was big on free coffee, but noticeably lean on free H2O.
- You can never bring too many business cards.
- Hand sanitiser is your new best friend.
If you aren’t shaking hands with someone new every five minutes, you aren’t making the most of Web Summit! But don’t lose sight of the fact that the event falls right at the start of snivelly-cold season. Come prepared: pack Purell.
One of the things we were looking to get from the Summit experience, was a better sense of what our pitch should be. We were curious to see which features, benefits, and functions of our software resonated most with people, and excited them.
Our tag-line, “API for Hiring,” clearly visible on our booth signage, attracted a lot of attention. Ironically, it was a tag-line that, while in use at the time we completed our Web Summit exhibitor info, we had since discarded.
That we'd forgotten to update the Web Summit organisers on our new messaging, however, proved to be a brilliant oversight! With those three little words triggering so much interest from fellow exhibitors and conference attendees, we decided to work the tag-line back into our branding.
On that first day, the majority of visitors to the booth were involved in one way or another, with recruitment: founders and co-founders of HR tech startups, for example, independent recruiters and HR managers for larger multi-nationals.
To that end, we felt comfortable using phrases like “employer branding,” “candidate pool,” “ATS,” and “talent acquisition” when telling them about our SaaS offering. The feedback was positive, affirming our feelings that we’re onto something good with our latest iteration of Clinch.
Thursday, Nov. 6th, Web Summit: Day 3
On this, the final day of Web Summit, Clinch switched locations, setting up camp in the main “Town” area of the event, where we were exhibiting on the Enterprise Ireland stand as one of their High Potential Startup Clients.
Steve and I arrived at the stand, armed with water, the all-important hand sanitiser, and (after a quick caffeine infusion - thanks Microsoft!) we were raring to go.
After about an hour, it became clear that what had been working as a pitch the previous day, just wasn’t going to cut it a second day.
The flow of visitors to the stand was a mixed bag. We had everyone from entrepreneurs, employees of Enterprise Ireland and the IDA, to bankers and our friends from iTagged and Popdeem. Even the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton, stopped by, although he didn’t stop to chat, much to our dismay. Clinch CEO Paddy had even brought along a Clinch-branded t-shirt, especially for him!
These folks weren’t in HR. They didn’t get the buzz words and phrases that had worked so well for us the day before. And so, we had to change it up, breaking it down into what Clinch is and does, at its most basic level.
“Clinch is the software platform that makes hiring easier. Get more from your careers page and starting talking to candidates today.”
It’s no “API for Hiring,” but it IS something that everyone from your teenage brother to your Mammy can wrap their head around.
Ready for Our Closeup
Another great bonus of the Web Summit, is the opportunity for media exposure that it offers startups. Journalists from all over the world attend the event, and while they’re mostly seeking out those big stories—like the Web Summit deal over pints that led to $18bn Uber start-up and, eh, the fact that this one time, in Dublin, Eva Longoria ate a pack of Tayto—there are opportunities for startups to steal a little bit of the limelight, too.
Special shout-out to Clare Cullen of Independent.ie who worked like a trojan and made it her business to showcase some of us “littler guys” at Web Summit. Clare was orchestrating the #6SecondPitch challenge and was also good enough to interview Clinch in our first ever “piece to camera.”
On a personal level, this was my first Web Summit, and based purely on my own experience over the course of the three days, I reckon that you get out of the event as little or as much as you put in.
There’s so much going on, it would be impossible to see, do, and be a part of everything. My advice to any startups thinking of going next year is, if you want to make the most of the experience, you’re best to set out with one particular goal—media coverage, investment, or a better knowledge of your competitors, for example—and use that to drive all of your Web summit activities.
Clinch went into Web Summit somewhat naively. We weren’t sure what to expect. If nothing else, we knew that it would be an excellent opportunity to talk to people about our service and generate more brand awareness, which it was, and which we did.
At the end of the three days, we came away not only with a better sense of where the value in our product lay and what works best for us in terms of messaging that grabs and resonates with a potential customer, we’d also locked in our first on-camera interview and made ourselves known to the readers of Independent.ie.
Not bad for a company that launched just 10 months ago!
What’s next for Clinch?
Right now, Paddy, Damien and Shane are sunning themselves—sorry, slip of the finger—they’re working hard over in San Francisco, representing Clinch in the Access Silicon Valley programme run by Enterprise Ireland. Clinch has generated a lot of interest with accelerators and incubators on the West Coast, so establishing a company presence out there makes sense. We look forward to setting up a U.S. office sometime in the new year.
Back home at Clinch HQ, the rest of us are beavering away, taking what we learned at Web Summit and channelling it into some swanky new product pages that we’ll be testing for engagement effectiveness over the coming weeks.
We’re also working on case studies for the site, chatting to some of the companies who’ve used Clinch and found our software to have made a difference in their hiring processes.
Plenty going on, so be sure to stay tuned to keep up to speed on all our latest news and product updates!