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

๐ŸŽŸ Conferences ยท October 9, 2020 ยท 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 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 f
    estival. 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.

Startup Conferences

Launch

Launch Festival is the largest startup conference in the world. Going to Sydney in June will definitely be worth it. You can be sure to meet a world class lineup, the most innovative startups and a whole lot of investors.

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WebSummit

Web Summit is one of the largest tech conferences in the World. For four days, Lisbon is packed with innovative startups, investors, inspirational talks and the newest technology.
You probably wonโ€™t find a better place to spend the beginning of November.

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StartupGrind

Do you want to join a huge community of brilliant startup minds? Of course you do! Do we even have to ask? Don't miss the out on this Silicon Valley-based conference in February, packed with creativity and passion.

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Young Entrepreneur Convention

If you are a student or a young entrepreneur looking to get startup smart, have a look at the YE convention in Iowa. Each fall, the prime minds of entrepreneurship get together to share their knowledge with the next generation of startup stars.

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European Entrepreneur Summit

Need inspiration? Want to know the top 10 waves, entrepreneurs are riding right now? Then London is the place to be next September. Join bestseller authors, leading activist, and inspiring entrepreneurs to stimulate your creativity and transform your way of thinking.

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Worldz

Take ownership, grow 1% each day, and chase your dreams. These are the principles of this Manhattan-based conference. In September, the entrepreneurs of tomorrow join forces with the most experienced and inspiring leaders to overcome obstacles on the path to success.

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Tech Conferences for Startups

CES

If you get excited by the words Consumer Electronics and youโ€™re up for a huge show and a bit of Vegas fun, CES in January is just what you need.
We promise youโ€™ll have seen a lot of pretty cool new stuff when you leave.

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The Montgommery Summary

Are you crazy about innovation, technology, and California beaches? Jump on a plane, a train or an automobile and get down to L.A. in March. Each year, The Montgomery Summit invites successful entrepreneurs, investors, and executives to discuss the most important trends in innovation and business.

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Collision

Join "The Olympics of Tech" in Toronto in June and listen in when the world's most outstanding professional spend four days discussing the newest, most relevant subjects and trends.

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Rise

If you're a true tech talent and you believe data is the future, don't miss out on Asia's largest tech conference in Hong Kong. Business-bright minds join together to redefine tech. From the team behind Web Summit and Collision, you're in for an experience of a lifetime.

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SaaStr Annual

Are you in love with B2B and SaaS? Then San Jose is the place to go in March. This event is 100% focused on giving attendees new knowledge and teaching them how to be better. Youโ€™ll see no paid commercials and no paid content at this event.

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IoT World

If your startup is working in the IoT space or if you are just obsessed with all things "smart", this conference is a must-attend event. For two full days, industry experts, disruptive startups and ground-breaking new inventions are gathered to demonstrate and discuss the future of IoT.

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Business Conferences for Startups

World Domination Summit

Imagine spending an entire week acquiring new skills and learning from some of most interesting, unconventional thinkers out there. Well, at WDS you can, and we're willing to bet you will leave Portland high on motivation, knowledge and new people.

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EY Strategic Growth Forum

This is not just a convention, but a space for connecting people to develop ideas that solve future challenges. EY is behind this growth-oriented conference and asks the question: How do you get smart enough for the challenges ahead?

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Topo Summit

This conference is a great place to learn what's new in business, sales and marketing. Throughout the conference, you get the chance to dive deep into the best business strategies. You'll learn from the very best in the field and get actionable advice and content to implement in your own business. 

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Media and Entertainment Conferences for Startups

SXSW

If you want to meet the worldโ€™s most creative, trendsetting minds, Austin is where you should be in March.
The conference has 25 tracks overflowing with new inspiration from industries like tech, film, music and movies.

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OFFF

For all the motion graphics, artists, illustrators, art directors, movie creators and story tellers out there, OFFF is your chance to geek out with like-minded people, while enjoying buzzing, sunny Barcelona. Join three days of workshops, activities and performances and stock up on new inspiration.

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BioTech & Health Conferences for Startups

BIO Impact Conference

Innovative biotechnology solutions are essential for shaping our future. Keys to protecting our planet's resources and improving the lives of humans are found in BioTech. For anyone with a contribution, this two-day conference is a great place to start. 

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Retail Conferences for Startups

NRF: Retailโ€™s Big Show

If you're building a retail startup or if you're just curious about the future of the retail industry, you should pay a visit to NRF's Retail's Big Show. Listen in on conversations and talks by industry visionaries, learn what's new in retail tech and join fellow retailers to grow your network and meet new partners. 

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Future of Retail

Do you want to drive the future of commerce? Then there's no better place to go than the Future of Retail conference. Join industry experts, emerging startups and leading corporations to discover and discuss new innovations and ways of doing retail.

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eTail

If you're running an online business, the eTail conference is worth a visit. Attendees get the chance to listen in on peer-to-peer discussions and talks from some of the most innovative and successful retailers in Europe. You'll leave the conference with your toolbox full of new strategies and ideas for building and growing your online retail business.

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ShopTalk

ShopTalk is the go-to conference for retail change-makers. Each year they, it brings together well-established retailers with innovative tech startups, leading VC investors, equity analysts and more to stir the conversation about the future of retail. 

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Marketing Conferences for Startups

Content Marketing World

Want to get better at online marketing? Well then why not learn from the best? This October in Ohio, Content Marketing World reunites marketing minds from around the world. Join if you're up for some fresh content marketing perspectives.

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Social Media Growth Summit

Want to learn everything there is to know about social media? Then this event is the place to be. For four days, you'll have a chance to join in on conversations about everything from growing your audience and selling on social channels to video marketing and content creation. 

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B2B Marketing Exchange

Got a b2b product to market or sell? Want to learn all the latest tactics and technologies from the best in the business? Then B2BMX is just the right place for you. With 6 tracks and more than 100 different sessions, you'll have plenty of opportunities to perfect your skills and learn something new. Sounds like just what you need? See you in Scottsdale next February!

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