(Commerce) Mission accomplished – what now? | Weblogs
Blog post | 05-18-2021 | Consulate General in Toronto
Going on a virtual mission to one of the biggest tech conferences in North America looks promising for a Dutch tech startup. But what do you really get out of it?
In April, nearly 40,000 people attended Collision Conference, the fastest growing technology conference in North America. The city of Toronto has been hosting the conference since 2019. This year’s edition was completely virtual, with over 1,500 sessions and 600 speakers, talking about the latest trends and developments in the tech scene.
The Toronto Consulate General organized a virtual trade mission to Collision for the Dutch tech community, in cooperation with the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) and Handelsroute. The mission paid particular attention to startups: 14 startups were selected to participate in a dedicated mission to start their entry into the North American market.
We asked four startups to share their Collision Conference experiences: Sanneke Mulderink (Tranzer), Peter Engel (Actuals.io), Silke Geerts (COMPO / PeopleFlows software) and Wouter Maagdenberg (TXTOmedia).
For starters, why did you want to be part of the Collision Conference startup mission in the first place?
To fart: We knew that Collision Conference is one of the biggest and best organized events for tech companies. Due to COVID-19, this was an online edition, which allowed us to register earlier than we normally would. Collision Conference provides the opportunity to learn about potential routes to enter the Greater Toronto Area and North America, while also providing extensive networking opportunities. Our company Actuals.io provides reconciliation and assurance solutions for CFOs and it was a great way to explore the appetite for our product in this market.
Wouter: TXTOmedia is currently researching how and where to land in North America to expand its business. Our main goal was to meet potential partners and learn from other entrepreneurs.
Sanneke: My company Tranzer, a public transport digital ticketing platform, wanted to join the virtual mission because of the potential to meet a large international network, as we also operate worldwide.
Silke: Developments in our PeopleFlows spin-out have led us to focus on international trade fairs. Through our contacts in various Dutch embassies, we heard about Collision Conference. We were already enthusiastic before the start of Collision, because of the positioning of the conference and the enthusiasm of the organizers of the Dutch mission.
How did you experience the conference and the mission?
To fart: The programming was excellent and we really enjoyed being able to watch some of the most successful entrepreneurs and investors in tech. Handelsroute, RVO and the Consulate General made the most of it in these digital times: we had a Whatsapp group, several online Zoom calls with startup founders that allowed us to prepare for the event. For example by offering pitch training as well as tips and tricks provided by local entrepreneurs and the Consulate General. Being part of the Dutch startup delegation left a very positive impression on the other Collision participants but also impressed our customers and our local network.
Wouter: The collision is huge! It is quite a challenge to navigate through this online event. You learn what other businesses and people are doing, how they present themselves and there is the opportunity to mingle. For us, it’s about discovering the latest technological trends and specific players. It is not so much a “sales event”. In addition, it is always good to bond and present yourself as a common Dutch delegation. The organizational support and public relations that we got in this way have worked in a positive way. In addition, it also helped to get acquainted with the support that the Dutch government abroad provides to Dutch companies.
Silke: I agree with Wouter, I found the conference to be more about learning, experiencing, discovering and expanding the network, rather than a true “sales conference”.
Sanneke: Collision is a very interesting and high quality conference with high level speakers. The different themes covered made it very inspiring. And we were very proud to have been selected as a promising startup!
What did you find most remarkable about the conference and the mission?
To fart: We didn’t expect to receive more than 3,500 views of our video pitch. Our company Actuals.io received many positive reactions from participants, but also from existing customers and our extensive network. Many of them congratulated us on being part of a selected delegation of Dutch startups. On top of that, we had some great conversations with various entrepreneurs.
Sanneke: There were many ways to present your business during Collision – the pitch training we received beforehand was very helpful in preparing for this. I was very happy that our 40 word pitch was selected to be presented at the conference!
Silke: For me, it was surprising that I ended up participating as a speaker in a roundtable conversation without knowing it first! I was literally sitting at the table and a hundred “participants” heard my contribution. It gave me a lot of energy and it allowed me to expand my network.
Wouter: We didn’t intend to specifically meet with VCs or raise capital, but the number of investors contacting us was interesting to see. We remembered three things: First: new contacts. Second, the realization that VCs currently have money to spend. And finally: Collision is a big event online, but it got us wondering: how much better would the real thing in Toronto be?
Collision Conference has already announced that it will hold its conference again in June 2022 in the city of Toronto. So I hope we have the chance to participate in real life next year!
Do you want to do business in Canada?
Please see the Netherlands Enterprise Agency website on Canada here (in Dutch). Or would you like to know more precisely what the Consulate General in Toronto can do for you? Please feel free to contact [email protected], we would love to hear from you!