How to Drive Valuable Impact as a Startup Sponsor at AWS Re:Invent
60,000+ AWS users and attendees from all over the world in Sin City.
900 OmniSci branded socks and pins handed out.
17 scheduled onsite meetings and valuable conversations.
One Series C Startup at a 5x5 booth in a vendor pool of 400+.
11 employees from 4 different teams.
One valuable event wrap up.
After surviving one of the worst strains of flu in history, I have managed to collect my thoughts for future me and for startups considering sponsoring an exhibitor package at AWS Re:Invent 2020.
To be frank, there was a lot of internal skepticism regarding what sort of impact we could have at such a massive conference, but I’m always the best optimist and started prep work early. #StartUpEventPlanner
Though we were just a small exhibitor, these were the ways I optimized our experiences and startup sponsorship. By the way, a 5x5 booth at Re:Invent will cost you roughly $30,000, by far one of the most expensive events to sponsor at but for good reason. See below for 2019 prices — isn’t it insane how the top three expensive ones were sold out?!
Here are the key learnings from our first time exhibiting at AWS Re:Invent:
- Pick the right location. We were right at main entrance and startup central, and also where the main keynotes were being streamed. Other sponsors said we were incredibly lucky to get such a great spot. No, it was because I literally jumped at the opportunity for us to sponsor and paid immediately so we could get the best spot in the house. I had signed our contract and chose this location months in advance; one must act early or you’ll be stuck behind the hundreds of vendors in the back with half the amount of foot traffic.
- Make it known to the whole world that your company will be there. This is something I regret and wish I had executed better on. It felt like everyone (and the right everyone) in the whole tech space was there; I should’ve pushed our field team to reach out to prospects, customers, etc. to see if more meetings could have been scheduled. Fortunately, a lot were scheduled onsite, but it could have been more logistically flawless and less hectic if we have planned in advance.
- Don’t discount anyone walking by. Simply put: talk to everyone. Saying a simple hello to random attendees helped us extend friendly conversations; even if they weren’t the right customer fit, at least they would recognize our logo with the team that was friendly and attentive at the event, not complete assholes staring at their phone. Also, it was hilarious how we’d talk to someone in casual, humorous conversation and then realize only after we scanned their badge that the person was a CEO/CTO of a company, but was just walking by our booth in sweats and a t-shirt.
- Round up a diverse set of people to be at this event. Interestingly enough, we had team members from Engineering, Community, BD, and Sales all come together for AWS Re:Invent, which provided a valuable and cohesive experience for all of us. We got to bond among each other, take away learnings and practices while giving demos, and poke each other’s brains on their takeaway on their team strategy. In the office, it would be rarer that I’d interact so closely with some of these people. Most conferences only have sales and marketing attend, which is a huge loss since other team members can really bring other knowledge and perspective.
- No swag was given without a demo first. We were very strict on this — every person who received our socks at least got a 2 minute demo of our product. If anything, awareness is key and we were at least spreading product awareness that attendees could connect us back to. Leads are completely useless if it’s just a scan for swag. We had people literally saying, “Scan me.” And proceeded to open their bag like they were trick-or-treating, without caring who we were or what product offering we had.
- Pick the right swag. What does the technical crowd like? What serves as utility for them? AWS had so many donation boxes around the conference, and they were filled with items that attendees picked up but didn’t want anymore, ranging from bouncy balls, frisbees, screen cleaners, etc. Have 1–2 simple things that were useful, higher grade, and a bit eccentric.
Making a splash at AWS Re:Invent is certainly doable with the right team and resources. In addition with the sponsorship, there are other costs to account for, including hotel costs, flights, and team dinners — these are obviously costs you are unable to get around, but ensuring the right kind of preparation for you (the events planner) and your team will help you achieve a wildly successful impact and experience at AWS Re:Invent.
Emily is a US expat currently living in Singapore to learn about the tech communities growing in Asia. She has worked 4+ years in dev relations, community management, and event marketing within the tech and travel industry. Her time at OmniSci, Google and Booking.com gave her cross-functional expertise. In her free time, she runs the volunteer community initiatives for TEDxSanFrancisco, as well as promote and blog on the importance of financial literacy and education.