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In today’s episode, Steli and Hiten list the ways in which you can use conferences to grow your startups. In the entrepreneurial world today, there are conferences popping up left, right and center—it’s hard to know which ones will benefit you the MOST. Steli and Hiten discuss how you should choose your conference, how to MAXIMIZE the value of that conference and the importance of making in-person connections with those that attend. Tune-in to get the MOST out of your next conference.

Time Stamped Show Notes:


00:26 – Today’s topic is about using conferences to grow your business

00:43 – Steli wants to talk about this topic because both him and Hiten always get invited to speak at conferences

01:14 – Steli thinks that the majority of conferences are a waste of time and 10% of them can be worthwhile and valuable


01:52 – Be selective about which conferences to attend

02:20 – Look at the focus of the conference

03:06 – Ask yourself whether the audience attending the conference could be potential customers for your business

04:11 – Reasons NOT to go should include raising a financing round, getting press publicity, and to learn about interesting topics

05:08 – If you’re interested in the content and not in networking, learn from home instead


05:54 – Hiten used to be part-owner of a conference company


06:38 – At some point, conferences turn into money-making events

08:23 – Steli doesn’t know of any conference he’s attended that have actually gotten better

08:48 – Majority of conferences make money from sponsorships

09:17 – The conferences are designed around the sponsors and not the attendees


10:06 – Steli believes that networking makes conferences valuable


10:16 – The reality is 99% of attendees don’t actually network while at the conference

10:38 – Most people go to conferences with people they know and spend the majority of their time with them

11:45 – One of the most powerful things about a conference is get to know people and be in their physical space

12:45 – You don’t need to meet ALL the people at a conference, just make a list of people who are potential customers

13:39 – Steli finds it rare that people are purposeful and make it a point to meet specific people at a conference

14:37 – “A conference is the starting point of a relationship, if you want to network”


15:57 – Steli attended 5 to 10 conferences this past year

16:33 – Steli mentions a story about a listener of the podcast who tweets from his company’s branded account


17:06 – The person emailed Steli asking if he needed a ride from the Dublin airport to his hotel and he accepted

17:37 – In the 3 minutes of driving together, Steli realized he was actually glad he said “yes” to the offer

18:01 – Steli describes this guy to be a genuine and honest person

19:24 – In-person connection really makes a difference

19:41 – If this person keeps in touch, Steli is willing to go out of his way to help him


20:50 – Help those people that you want to connect with

21:42 – End of the podcast


3 Key Points:


You have to be selective about the conference you’re attending to gain the most value.

Unfortunately, most conferences are planned around the sponsors.

At the end of the day, personal connections are still better than connections made online.


Steli Efti:


Hey, everybody, this is Steli Efti


Hiten Shah:


This is Hiten Shah.


Steli Efti:


In today's episode of the startup chat, we want to talk about startup conferences. You  know, when should you attend conferences, how do you make sure to actually turn a  conference into something that converts into business, growth, or whatever the goal is that you  have versus just having it be a huge distraction,

Key points in this episode

Key Highlights

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