Here are the Best Conferences to Attend for Startups [by Topic]

Looking for cool conferences to attend with your startup? We get it! Conferences are great. We've made a list of the best ones to go to this year and next.

By Julie Navntoft

If you feel like books and podcasts just aren't enough for you, then take it to the next level and attend a conference. Find new opportunities, get inspired, and meet some of the world's most creative and trendsetting people in your field.

Why Should You Attend a Conference as Founder?

As an entrepreneur, a founder, a business owner and, let's face it, a human being, it's pretty easy to get hyped about going to one (or several) of the many, many amazing conferences around the world. Think about it. You get to pack a bag, go to the airport, fly somewhere cool and attend an impressively huge event overflowing with talks from genius business leaders, inspiring entrepreneurs and potential investors, partners and customers. That is until you see the prices. As an early-stage startup, perhaps still bootstrapping, the expenses for attending business conferences are most often massive. Still, going to the right ones can be of equally massive value to you. But how do you know which conference to go to? And why should you even go?

Here are some pointers for you to consider, before booking your tickets: 

  • Why am I going?
    There's a difference between going because a trip to a big sunny city sounds amazing, and going because you want to (and need to) present your startup to the other attendees. Not that one reason is better than the other per se, but if you're on a tight budget, the last reason might be the most valid. So, why are you going? Are you looking for investors? Customers? A specific pieceof new knowledge? 
  • What is the specific thing, I want to bring back home?
    When you know, why you're going, the next step is to set a goal for what you want to bring back home. There's a difference between casually talking to a potential customer at the coffee stand and bringing home 10 phone numbers to call.
  • Will my target audience attend?
    To choose the right conference, you need to know if your target audience, that is the people you want to meet and talk to, are going tobe there. If not, then you probably won't benefit much from going yourself. At least not compared to the costs. 

How Should Startups Prepare for a Conference?

Again, it's completely up to you if you want to attend a conference just for the fun of it. Lord knows, we would too. But if you're going with a specific goal in mind and if you want to make sure you get your money's worth, you need to prepare. 

Depending on why you're going, here are some things to prepare for:

  • Your elevator pitch
    This is the ultra short version of the "what" and "why" of your startup. What do you do? Why do you do it? What are your business ambitions and how will your startup change the world? Write it down, keep it short (30-90 seconds) and rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.
  • Prepare some demo material
    At least if you're getting a booth to present your startup at the event. If not, then at least make sure you have some business cards with you.
  • Study the schedule
    Attending a conference is like attending a festival. There will be way more things on the agenda than what you'll be able to attend. Make sure you go through the program, prioritize you're must-attends and your nice-to-attends, then make a plan for yourself.

Alright, so without further ado, here's a list of the coolest, most inspiring and most valuable conferences, divided into categories.

Great Startup Conferences for Founders

A startup conference can be a great opportunity to learn from experienced entrepreneurs and industry experts. Conference speakers often share their own experiences and offer advice on a variety of topics, from fundraising to product development. Conferences also provide a valuable networking opportunity. You can meet other entrepreneurs, investors, and service providers who can help your business grow. Conference attendance can also help you establish yourself as an expert in your field.

Tech Conferences for Startups

Recently, there's been a surge of technology conferences popping up all over the world. While some people might be wondering what these events are and what purpose they serve, tech conferences can be extremely beneficial for founders because founders can learn about new technologies, meet potential investors, and find partners for their business.

Great Business Conferences for Startups

Startups often need help getting their business off the ground. This is where business conferences can come in handy. There are many different types of business conferences that cater to different needs.  Attending a business conference can be a great way to learn more about the business world and make valuable connections.

Great Media and Entertainment Conferences for Startups

Media and entertainment conferences are a great opportunity for startups to network with other industry professionals and learn about the latest trends. Conferences can also provide a forum for startups to pitch their ideas to investors and industry veterans. In addition, media and entertainment conferences can offer valuable insights on how to build a successful business in this industry. Here are a couple of the best media and entertainment conferences for startups.

Great Retail Conferences for Startups

There are a variety of conferences that cater to different aspects of the retail industry, so it's important to do your research to find the right one for your business. Here are a few good retail conferences.

Great Marketing Conferences for Startups