How the Startup World Cup & Summit is organized

Interview
When you say the Startup World Cup & Summit (SWCSummit), most people imagine lectures, networking and mentoring. But if you look behind the curtain of the event, you will see much more. A team of people who tirelessly seek out first-rate speakers, negotiate with partners, look for the best catering and solve the slightest details to make the event unforgettable. An interview with the organizer Tomáš Cironis.

Tomáš, you’ve organized events such as the Innovation Week, the Entrepreneurship Week and the SWCSummit. What do you like about this work?

Connecting people with different ideas, experiences and perspectives. Someone has know-how, but does not have the means, while another person has the means, but does not have know-how. The easiest way to meet these people is at events like the SWCSummit or the Innovation Week. If you listen properly, you can learn a lot. At the same time, events such as the SWCSummit are one of the easiest marketing and sales channels for B2B clients.

Why did you decide to leave the European Leadership & Academic Institute (ELAI) and participate in the SWCSummit?

ELAI is great, but I needed to try something bigger, more European. The SWCSummit allows me to get in touch with the best European startups, the largest corporate firms and the most interesting investors on our continent. The SWCSummit brand has a world-wide sound, which also helps us a lot in communication. Besides I like the organizational team, which is very diverse and has a wide range of experience.

How did the preparations go?

Although it might not seem like it, preparations of this event take whole year and since it is European grand finale, it is really a lot of tough work. Everything starts to become more intense about 6 months before the event and 3 months before we dedicate all our time and energy to it. The basic aspect is the format of the event. It is necessary to define the target group correctly and choose an optimal communication style. The program and the budget of the event are based on this, as well as fundraising, which includes both the pricing of individual types of tickets, as well as the negotiation with commercial partners who use these events to promote their products and services and communicate with their customers.

Subsequently, both online and offline promotion is launched. We have an expert, Jan Kříž, who can do great things with digital marketing and PR. We must also not forget about ensuring great content on the event, i.e., world-class speakers, as well as interesting discussions and workshops, where visitors learn a lot and do networking. Another important aspect is the right choice of an event application, first-class catering, volunteers and a smooth and quick registration at the venue.

Who helped organize this event?

The core team consists of 6 people, most of whom work at UP21 and AirVentures, which are the two companies behind the SWCSummit. This team is then joined by active students who are interested in gaining practical experience with an European project.

We have a good experience with this type of cooperation. This year we had the opportunity to find literally a gem in the form of Nikol Naxerová, who did great work much beyond her duties. Besides, we also cooperate with production agencies and a PR agency. Even though it's a pretty big team, we have no problem to speak to each other honestly and clear up any ambiguities before it's too late. This is great because it takes away stress before the event.

How did you create the program?

We emphasized on the aspects that visitors liked last year. Although it is a multi-day event, it is necessary to concentrate on every detail and to think through all the scenarios so that entrepreneurs, investors, and people from corporations and state sector can each find something they like. The program was rich but we also tried to keep a healthy balance so that people would not leave the event completely exhausted, but on the contrary, would take away positive ideas and good mood.

We gave the visitors a networking app in which they could choose create their own agenda of the day. At the same time, we tried to ensure that parts of the program with similar target groups did not overlap. The program is one of the most important parts of the entire event. Based on how good the program is, visitors decide not only if they will come, but also how much time they will spend at the event.

How did you attract famous speakers?

Vítek Šubert, who personally knows the CEO of Strava James Quarles, did a lot of work. Mirka Hoffmanová managed to bring Dave Evans, one of the best people I've ever met. And de facto every other speaker or mentor was here thanks to the endless network of Vašek Pavlečka, who also deserves to get the credit. I think that what is really important is the way you communicate with speakers and explain to them why it is good for them to come to the event. We tried to pick an ideal combination of speakers and mentors to cover all areas of the business world. I must admit that sometimes it was not easy to align everything.

Startup Mimbly, European Champion at Startup World Cup & Summit

How did you find partners?

This year was the third year and we are already planning the fourth, so one could say we are established on the market, yet we still struggle with the aspect of local budgeting of commercial partners. To put it simply, we have Czech revenues, but European spending. And that needs to be changed.

The aim of the SWCSummit in financial terms is to have a balanced or plus budget and, in addition, to benefit from the visibility, network, experience and PR. This year we have established contacts with European headquarters and we want to head in this direction. European and international companies start seeing Prague as an innovation center in Europe, so we want to make the most out of it.

How did you promote this event to startups?

We use several communication channels and have good relations with various incubators, co-working spaces, associations and generally platforms where startups come together. We also communicate directly with startups that should definitely appear in the competition. The SWCSummit is known not only in Europe but also around the world, which opens many doors for us. One of my colleagues, Dominika Prekopová, has done a huge chunk of work, communicating the event to startups.

I must also mention my colleague, Viktor Nyitray, who has managed to build a very interesting network of partners across Europe, especially co-working spaces, incubators, investment companies and government agencies. He was able to double the number of our partners. He opened many doors and now we are building on it. In the near future, this will be a great competitive advantage for us.

How would you evaluate this year’s event?

You know, there is always something to improve. In this regard, we are quite critical. But the overall visitors’ and competitors’ feedback is outstanding. Networking, expert lectures, mentor tables and one-to-one were especially appreciated. We definitely want to build on networking-based activities in the future. There were also very interesting startups competing not only from the V4 countries, but from the whole Europe.

The winner Mimbly can now compete in the global finals. The Expo section was also pretty lively throughout the event, so we are very satisfied with that. Online promotion and as well as PR worked out well, since we got into the national TV. However, we also perceive certain shortcomings on which we want to work intensively next year.

What will be the event like next year?

You can expect a "bigger and more grandiose" event. This year's event has shown us the direction we want to go and since we will be working on the few negatives from this year, it should be even better next year. We want to bring several interesting faces and focus on building a community around the SWCSummit.

Together with world-class speakers, networking is a crucial aspect of next year for us. We also expect that the best European startups will qualify for the European finals, so when you come, you will surely have a lot of interesting things to hear and people to meet.

Tomáš Cironis is one of the key organizers of the Startup World Cup & Summit. Prior to that he worked in the European Leadership & Academic Institute where he organized the Innovation Week. During his studies at the Charles University, Tomáš volunteered in Peru and Taiwan with AIESEC. In his free time, he does fundraising for a nonprofit organization called LORM, which helps deaf-blind people. And if he finds any more free time, he plays floorball or travels around the globe.

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