This post was contributed by Raoul Encinas, event volunteer and co-founder of PhosLabs
We are less than one month away from PHX Startup Week! Right now, presenters are hard at work on their sessions, and dozens of volunteers are working behind the scenes to make this year’s event even better than last year’s.
Don’t let the ‘free’ entry to all the sessions lead you to think this is amateur hour; this is a professional event that Neel Mehta says can be a gamechanger if you plan for it, with high-quality content and a rich community of very involved participants.
To make the most of PHX Startup Week, here are 7 tips to consider, with advice from some of the event organizers and volunteers.
#1 Make it Meaningful
Each of us have different reasons for going, whether it’s to make new connections, learn more about a specific topic, support a friend, or just see what all the fuss is about. You might not even know what your ‘why’ is just yet, so give it some thought. As with your own business, the more clear your understanding of your purpose, the easier it is to stay aligned to it.
As one of the event organizers, Jonathan Cottrell is focused on ensuring it offers “meaningful content, facilitates meaningful relationships, creates meaningful opportunities, and makes a meaningful statement for all of Arizona’s entrepreneur ecosystem.”
The question is, how will you make it meaningful?
#2 Be Present, Curious, and Bold
Marco Ceglie, host for Thursday’s sessions, provides this advice: “This is time that you’ve chosen to invest in yourself, your business and your community, so take an extra few moments to seek out something unique and original about every person you meet, then introduce those people to others around you. You’d be amazed at the robust tapestry of fascinating people and projects here in the Valley.”
#3 Balance Quality With Quantity
With over 120 distinct sessions, it might be easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer numbers. Be thoughtful about which sessions and speakers are most important to your goals for the week, and factor in the time you’ll likely want to spend after those key sessions capturing and reflecting on your newfound knowledge.
Plan to spend time at each each #ChaseBasecamp, even if you don’t attend a session. There will be lots of informal opportunities to mix and mingle. As Dan Tyre, host for Monday’s kickoff day offers: “Meet and befriend fired up entrepreneurs, angels, investors, government officials in the AZ ecosystem. I mean physically be in the same room with them, sit next to them, chat with them, ask them questions, make connections, tell your story, and treat Phoenix Startup Week like one big cocktail party.”
#4 Be in Two Places at Once
Whenever I can achieve two or three goals at once, I try to make it happen. During last year’s PHX Startup Week, there were some competing sessions I couldn’t decide between. Additionally, I had been meeting some really interesting people throughout the week, and I wanted to find a way to stay connected to them.
My approach was to find out which sessions my new friends were attending, and schedule a debrief chat with them right after. This gave us a chance to do two things: get a basic download of the other session we missed, and better understand each other’s perspectives and point-of-view.
In some cases, going together to the same session with a new “buddy” was just as enlightening. We’d both be enjoying the same content, but each of us would have different takeaways to explore.
#5 Thank the Sponsors and Volunteers
PHX Startup Week has over 120 events across 6+ locations in the Valley, and 6,000 attendees are expected. An event like this absolutely could not happen without significant investment of time and capital from our sponsors and volunteers.
The sponsors for PHX Startup Week provide more than just the financial underwriting, gifts in kind, venues, and other support. They lend their brand and reputation to strengthen our overall credibility outside of the state. Show them some love!
Every volunteer you meet is willingly giving their time, effort, and energy to make this event special. Please be empathetic and appreciative for their difficult jobs, and see if you can pitch in and help. After all, becoming known as the most generous entrepreneurial ecosystem in the world is going to take more than a handful of us.
#6 Mind the Details
If you haven’t yet done so, make sure you register for the event, which is free. Sign up for the specific sessions you know you can make, as some of them have limited seating. Fill out your profile with a photo, to make it easier to connect with and follow-up with others.
Even if you’re familiar with the venues, allot extra time for parking, bumping into people you know, finding a seat, and getting yourself in the best mindset to enjoy each session. When you’re lost, running late, and possibly frazzled, you run the risk of becoming a distraction for the speaker and the fellow participants.
Bring your chargers, battery packs, etc. Even if you don’t run out of juice, someone else probably will. Bam! New friend made, just like that.
#7 Follow Up!
As valuable as PHX Startup Week can be, it’s what you do afterwards that will determine your level of success. You’re going to meet amazing, cool, creative people, and you’ll want to thoughtfully invest the time in the weeks afterwards to strengthen those connections, getting to know them better, and learning about how you can help them as well.
Hayfa Aboukier, host for Friday’s sessions, suggests the following: “Leave your ego at the door. This is an opportunity to really challenge yourself, learn new things, meet great people, and walk away with new tools in your toolbox. If you can come in with an open mind, you will come out the other end with a greater understanding of who you are, the community you are a part of, and the great things ahead!”
What About Your Advice?
Don’t be shy… you know you have your own tips and advice to share. Be generous! Use the #yesphx #phxstartupweek #Chasebasecamp hashtags and help get the word out.