Looking back at The Next Web 2017

May 19, 2017

“One of the most informal and intimate events for business people”, that is how visitors describe The Next Web conference that started yesterday, Thursday 18 May 2017. The two-day tech event is the place to learn about technology and to meet peers in your industry. The Accenture Innovation Awards team was there and we spoke to Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten, CEO of TNW, why so many others were as well.

An intimate networking setting

Everyone that could be interesting to you, is present at The Next Web conference”, answers Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten, CEO and founder of The Next Web, on the question why so many startups are there. “People that come to The Next Web want to get something out of it, whether it is knowledge, an investment opportunity, or simply expanding their network. We facilitate these objectives by setting up meetings, like the startup battle, and creating areas where people can interact on a more intimate level”.

Networks are valuable and you should invest time to build yours. But networking is not merely scheduling meetings, or selling your business idea to investors. At the end of the day, people have to work together with, or invest in YOU. Boris: “if there is a connection on a personal level, the result of working together will be much better, because you simply want that person to succeed”.

How does The Next Web facilitate the informal atmosphere that makes this type of networking possible? By creating a physical environment that allows for conversation. There is a tower you can climb on, and see the entire festival. It’s an experience you want to share in that instant. Founders Patrick and Boris also walk around the area to meet people and share experiences. Boris: “If you want to get twenty steps further than yesterday, you should engage with others at TNW. A beer at the barbecue always does the trick.

Key take-aways

According to Karl Andersson (co-founder Matsmart), growth is a drug. If you do not exceed last month sales, it does not feel good. Most entrepreneurs can relate to this, but it is easier said than done. However, after a day at The Next Web, we can establish a few key take-aways on how to maintain an exponential growth pattern:

Do your job

Strategy is extremely important if you are aiming for growth, because without one you might serve the wrong consumer, in the wrong place, and at the wrong time. Founders also naturally end up in a CEO position after firm growth, however, is this the position that suits you best? Payal Kadakia (Executive Chairman at ClassPass): “If you feel like you want to focus on executional things, hire someone else as CEO to involve in strategy”. Make a switch so that your skills suit the job.

 Provide sufficient tools

Hire the best salespeople and your sales will be great… NO! Firms miss out on sales when tools are not sufficient. Nicolas Brumelot (CEO MisterFly): “tools you provide to sales employees should be simple in its interface, and should work sufficiently. Every technicality costs money. Invest in sales tools with which you enable sales employees”.

 Package your product right

If you are selling a mouse, but package it as a product to use for tablets, chances are you might not succeed. Package the mouse as a product to use on your desk for a desktop computer, chances are people will see its value more easily. Still the same product, a different value package. Payal Kadakia faced this issue and found out about it by doing continuous surveys. Now, Classpass is a phenomenon in the US.

 Passion is marketing

Ask yourself: would you invest in a product if the person telling you its story seemed unconvinced? Probably not. Often, it is not the product that lacks quality, it is the story that does. Gerald Naber (VP sustainable business at ING): “a pitch without passion is one I will forget”. Not everyone can bring the story across, so if you engineered a great product, but you feel like the lady at your reception desk can tell the with more passion, let her do it.

Accenture Innovation Awards and The Next Web

The Next Web was once again a truly inspiring day. “Accenture has a high-level network, with people whose opinions are valued. The Next Web is in close contact with promising startups, and every year we help reaching each other’s objectives. The Next Web wants to give startups a platform to scale up, Accenture has the network to do so”, according to Boris.

Why participate now?

The Accenture Innovation Awards is the program that integrates these goals by connecting innovative entrepreneurs to experienced business leaders. The connections  often resulti in an investment, or a partnership between a startup and a corporate. According to Gerald Naber: “if you believe in the quality of your innovation, and you know that it can really make an impact, not participating in the Innovation Awards would be an opportunity – to network and get feedback from experts – well wasted”.

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Accenture Innovation Awards