This is a short report about the event in which I participated together with my employee (Nikita, who works as a Frontend developer in GPO OU) on 24-26 August 2022 in Tartu city, Estonia. I am going to describe here what went well and what did not, as pragmatic feedback for the organizer. The last time I’ve visited sTartup days it was in 2019, at that time we were a startup, at this time we visited as executives, so got access to all events, including VIP parties.
Everything in this post is my own feelings, it might be and most likely it’ll be different from yours.
Day 1. 24 of August 2022
On the first day of the event, all people arrived. The organizers did a really good job on the registration points no queues were observed, and we pretty quickly got our badges and wrist belts.
All attendees to sTartup days asked to use Brella mobile application to make connections and book appointments to meet people, I was using this app in the past, but unfortunately, this time app did not work, constantly went offline, and some people could not register, could not see messages, looks like Brella.io had an outage but there no information on their Twitter.
The event was opened by Estonian Madam Prime Minister Kaja Kallas. She gave a very professional speech, all my attention was on it, I truly enjoyed it. Only after the presenter started to ask questions did she reply to one of them: “Everyone here knows better how to do my job”, this was a nice move to avoid answering the question, well I am still curious about what had as answer in her mind.
The rest of the day was some speeches, related to Green energy, waste, etc. I was really into those subjects but the speakers did not warm up the audience so I don’t remember what they talked about. Kind of boring part.
Later in the evening VIP party started, closed, for investors and executives only, for networking, in a very nice place, two floors bar, in the city center. The place was really great, but only a few things did not go well here: to a small area (it was difficult to move inside), the music was too loud (how to do networking when you simply do not hear what someone saying to you), bars could not satisfy that high load of requests to buy drinks. When we met someone and want to talk we simply went outside, on the street. One time, when I finally got my drink, people who were waiting for me just left. I saw the anger on the bartender’s face, they gave me the wrong order once, so instead chill and networking this VIP event become a crazy loud party. After it closed, around midnight, some people went looking for further adventures.
Day 2. 25 of August 2022
Our meeting started at 10 am, and people slowly were coming to the University of Tartu Sports Hall (maybe hangover after the previous day’s party))). During this day we saw a few really interesting projects (some of them we’ll use soon), and a lot of projects which did not get a complete idea of what they are about. Very interesting to see the difference between founders who come to the business in the traditional way – by resolving real problems and getting paid for it, and founders who passed startup incubators and pitched step by step following a methodology which suppose to help raise some money by investments (sometimes those founders did not have even working MVP, and most funny – they already calculated how big is the market, how much investments they have but they simply do not have any clue how to make on base, technical level, simply do not have any expertise in the domain).
We met startup incubators representatives too, and I don’t know who hired those people, maybe I don’t get the correct main purpose of those people there but whenever I asked if there was any startup in their portfolio that we potentially use as a service provider, or buy their products for father integration they very lazily answered that they have few, but could not name it. Looks like they focus on rising investments into startups and not on getting them to the market.
Then there a second party, opened for startups, investors, executives, and other people. I was expecting one of the purposes of this party is networking, unfortunately, the music was very loud and no chance to talk to people, and to buy a drink you have to stay in the queue for around 40 min (this is the correct number, insane 40 min), after one round we decided to leave this, place.
The last day of sTartup days fest was calm, just a few short meetings to finalize further steps with some companies. The absence of meetings allowed us to listen to speakers and some startups pitching.
Parties were not good for networking, probably I am too old for such activity).
The communication channel through Brella did not work well, and there were no other ways to reach people, which is probably what organizers should consider next year.
The event sTartup days fest was pretty interesting, even though I did not find a lot of IoT-related startups. It was funny to observe the “cargo cult” – most of the startups did a lot of effort in pitching and way less in direction of understanding and resolving real-life or business problems. There were only very few startups and companies which have related to crypto, DeFi, dApp, NFT (looks like not a profitable trend anymore). In general looks like companies looking for ways to save money nowadays and there high interest in sustainable technologies.