Home Blogs How to WOW a US business conference crowd (advice needed)

How to WOW a US business conference crowd (advice needed)


As long time readers and contributors to the Australian Anthill community, we know where to turn when we have a business question. At Anthill, feedback comes swiftly and honestly from people who have years of experience in pretty much every field imaginable. Sometimes brutal, sure, but always useful.

So here we are with our questions, hoping to get some advice from people who may have done something like this before. Anthillians — we need you!

The Situation

Our event registration and ticketing company was recently selected to join a Victorian Government (Department of Innovation, Industry and Regional Development) trade mission to the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas. The trade mission itself is produced by Portable. As well as a booth at the trade show to demonstrate our product, we receive financial assistance to cover costs such as travel and accommodation.

This is an enormous opportunity for a self-funded startup like ours. Worse case scenario? We go to the states and enjoy a fantastic conference.

Best case scenario? The promotions, press and connections we create at SXSW are enough to get us over the tipping point. From a startup with potential to a company with serious global growth. From good to great.

The question therefore is:

To maximise the chance that our sojourn to the US will get as close to “best case scenario” as possible, what steps should we take?

Apart from the obvious, such as making sure we get in on a photo with Smokey Robinson, what would you do?

Perhaps it might help to highlight what we want to get out of the trip. Breaking it down into three key areas, we want to get in front of:


We want to meet actual prospects who would get value from our product. We are tacking towards focusing on a specific vertical (events put on to raise money), so it is possible our best customers may not be in attendance at a festival like SXSW. Given our scant knowledge of the US landscape, what is the best way to go about this?


We want as much targeted coverage from Australian, US and international media as we can possibly get, and we don’t want to have to engage a PR firm to get it. Is this a realistic expectation? Do we start to engage media now and let them know we are coming? Will they care?


We are looking at raising a round of capital to fuel our international expansion. We turned down a seed round in the middle of last year, as we hoped that proving our model further would generate better deal terms for ourselves. Time will tell whether that was the right decision, but certainly deal terms in the US are better than what are available in Australia. While we have some contacts that we can use to facilitate introductions, any advice would be appreciated!

Our experience exhibiting at trade shows is also somewhat limited, so if you have experience as to what works and what doesn’t, please leave us a comment. Do we do giveaways? Do we take a megaphone and shout from the rooftops? Pants on or off? It’s hard to know.

Essentially, it all comes down to this: We are going to a trade show to demonstrate our product. What do we need to do to ensure it is a success?

P.S. A small part of me is hoping that the Anthill community advice is a startup version of “Pants off Friday“. It would at least guarantee the media!

Photo: Eleaf