Post by Talita Holzer
If you work in tech, you know how important it is to be aware of upcoming industry trends. Attending tech conferences is a great way to do just that – you see exhibits from disruptive startups and talks from top tech professionals, all designed to give you a peek of the what’s to come in the next few years.
SaaStock, the biggest B2B SaaS conference in Europe, returned to the RDS on October 16th and 17th with 3,000 attendees and more than 100 speakers from SaaS-focused companies such as Slack, Salesforce and Intercom. SaaStock 2018 not only brought information about the world of SaaS – from getting investment to best practices in the industry – but also provided networking opportunities with established entrepreneurs and investors. They’ve also run a number of other programmes across Dublin ahead of the main event, including a one-day accelerator called Saas.City, an investor-only event known as Investock, and Start-up Program Day, a one-day bootcamp for start-ups.
Here are the thoughts from some of the Girls in Tech members who attended SaaStock 2018:
“Although my background is in design and multimedia and I’ve worked on training websites and programs in the past, I’ve been more deeply involved in events in recent years and so event tech and all things data, CRM and payment would be my main interests – I like to keep up with industry trends as well as what’s new. It was my first time to SaaStock but having looked at the speakers in advance, I was pleasantly surprised as my list grew longer with preferred talks in the three zones of growth, scale and rocket fuel… My schedule would only allow me one day’s attendance so I chose Thursday (day two of main conference and closing day) and mainly stuck to growth and scale.
Having scanned all stalls and spoken to some great start up groups like Spider Guard and Pay With Bolt, I concentrated on both trying out the show app to arrange meetings and mostly attending talks especially by big (female) hitters, Jessica Weisz, Soapbox on growth hacks and making meeting more effective, and Carrie Osman, Cruxy and Company about pricing strategy, and also Julien Cordorniou, VP Workplace at Facebook, about building software and changing to meet your audience needs. What I, and many other delegates I spoke to during the day, liked was that the speakers were generous with both their knowledge and offer to speak afterwards or send on notes… and what was noticeably absent was the usually inevitable ask. We weren’t given a hard sell afterwards which I can tell you went down well.
It being a tech show and being conscious of the need to promote it from within on the day, I both tweeted and posted an image taken with the event staff after they’d put an expo tattoo on my hand. As with all events, the experience comes down to the people involved in putting it together and interacting with visitors… and Sammy and team did a great job. One thing which was very noticeable still though was the ratio of men to women both in talks, in the audience and on the stands. It has improved over the years but still definitely has a way to go.”
– Caroline Kehoe, Event Designer/Manager at Blueleaf Redtree
“Why did I want to go? First of all, as a recent graduate I am highly interested in seeing what is happening in the SaaS world and to network. Admittedly, I was looking forward to hearing female leaders from the SaaS world speaking about their achievements. Further, I wanted to learn about Social media manamgement tools.
What did I enjoy the most? Tough to say! I think my favourite was the traction stage – after having worked for a start up before, I’ve realized how difficult and challenging it can be to scale. Therefore, I soaked up a lot of talks on the traction stage, learning about how companies from around the world started to find traction and scale and get inspiration from their learnings and best practices. However, I also really enjoyed the Pitch Stage.”
– Heike Bitterle, Account Manager at Facebook
“My name is Laura and I’m a digital project manager. I attended SaaStock 2018 to get inspired by the all-star panel of speakers! I’m always looking to learn new tips and tricks that I can implement in my business and in my clients’ businesses, so this was a huge learning opportunity for me.
I really enjoyed listening to Kieran Flanagan, VP of Marketing at HubSpot talking about the importance of building diverse teams with a growth mindset.
Another great speaker was Michael Litt, CEO of Vidyard who talked about how Gen Z it’s impacting business today (hint: they are anything but camera shy!)
I was really inspired by the bootstrapping story of Bridget Harris, founder of youcanbook.me and I also learned how Glofox’s distributed team manages time difference between the U.S and Ireland.
The energetic David Gerhardt, VP of Marketing at Drift revealed why building a brand is the best investment you can make for your business and showed some great examples of brands who are real, authentic and human. The key takeaway is: start getting comfortable with video and be authentic! 80% of all web traffic will be video by 2021. Wow.
Overall attending the SaaStock 2018 event was an amazing experience. So much information I had to take the day after the conference to digest everything!
SaaStock is a must if you want to keep up with what’s going on in the SaaS world, but I did notice an imbalance of diversity. I wish I had seen more women in the crowd! But I know that SaaStock has been making a great effort to have more female speakers and attendees, and they have committed to having a 50% gender equality representation on the stage of any SaaStock event from 2019 onwards. So hopefully we will see more women around next year!”
– Laura Tato, Digital Project Manager at Scope&Go
“Last week I had a pleasure to attend the SaaStock 2018 event. The main reason for attending to me was to get more knowledge about SaaS Startups, as I am myself working to open one. Second main reason was to widen my network circle and meet more people working in the same industry from all over the world. Fortunately for me I successfully accomplished both. I greatly enjoyed the whole event. The organisation was on a very great level, location was nice and easy to get to. I was especially happy with the organisation of the Networking events e.g evening in Tramline prior to the main event where I went to pick up my badge also included complementary food and drinks. As well as the events on Tuesday and Wednesday organised for attendees to network and catch up on the happenings of the day in more informal setting. I found that very useful because it gave me the chance to connect with people from the conference in more informal and relaxed setting. Especially the Monday night, as I had a pleasure to meet few people with whom I attended many talks the day after. This made me feel more comfortable throughout the event. I met a lot of investors, entrepreneurs seeking investment, speakers, business men and business women, tech specialists and just people like me who are looking to start a business. Entrepreneurs, who were presenting theirs startups prepared very well and were open to any sort of questions and cooperation with the customers interested in their services. Speakers were nicely and carefully selected, had a time limit and stick to it precisely.
Every talk or presentation I went to I found useful and straight to the point. A few talks that found especially useful were focused on understanding a customer, market development, discovering
your sales people and the right way of approaching a budget when starting a business. The one thing I found quite upsetting is that there was a significant difference in ratio of woman and male attendees in great favour of the male. I decided to research this issue and asked different companies and entrepreneurs their opinion on this matter and how is it addressed in their country. According to a few Swedish companies, technology sector all together is not that popular amongst woman in their country. It neither would be their first choice, nor would they be encouraged to give it a try. Whilst in America some women scared to face the competition with men when going to work in tech industry. But, in spite of this, every company admitted that having women in their company improved their sales and in general company’s infrastructure. One of the speeches I attended was highly encouraging employers to hire more females into their companies, due to them bringing a whole new way of approach into the tech world. Now to talk about a diversity in tech. Most companies present were coming from Sales, Marketing and Tech Support origins. Many of startups present were offering a variety of website building services.
To conclude, I can say that the main focus of all listed above was on consumer, consumer safety and security on the web, consumer experience, quality and accuracy of data. Every group and speaker presenting were selected very well and worth listening to. Organisation of event was great, timetable was precise and comfortable to follow. After main event activities were nicely planned, making the important aspect of networking way easier,while introducing attendees to Dublin culture. Those left everyone happy and satisfied with their time and money investment in purchasing the tickets. Diversity of woman and men in tech industry at this moment is unfortunately far from being equal, but it is an issue acknowledged and approached by everyone I had a pleasure to talk to and hopefully will not stay that way for any longer.”
– Anastasia Drey
You can also read Eileen Carroll’s opinion on Why Events Like SaaStock are Vital for Diversity in Tech. Eileen is the Director at Púca and Pay2Sender.
Would you like to get informed about the best tech conferences in Dublin and get the chance to win tickets? Join the Girls in Tech network here.