What Branch Learned From 80+ Events in 2016

At Branch, we have a long term vision of democratizing app discovery, and events are at the forefront of our marketing strategy to solve this far reaching issue. In a little over a year, we’ve participated in, 80+ conferences, and deciding what’s worth doing again is at the top of my priorities for the long-term growth of Branch. Here’s what’s at the top of my list:

1. Any event by Ci-Labs. The team that puts on Web Summit, Collision and RISE fill their events with pitch competitions, exhibiting startups, sessions from execs at fortune 500 companies and growing companies. When the day’s over, the real fun (and networking) begins, exploring the local city while mixing and mingling with investors, speakers, and founders. 

What makes it the best? There’s an opportunity around every corner. Connecting with thought leaders, meeting with your first investor, or securing an internal champion. The audience is a catch-all for the tech world.  

The customer service is incredible. Big or small, no team will treat you better than the Ci-Labs team. They fully invest in the startups and companies that come and exhibit at their conferences, and are absolutely dedicated to helping your team succeed onsite.

Worth it for a startup? Absolutely. If you’re a tech startup, these events were made for you.

How to make a splash? Pitch everyone! (Starting with the organizers) Have your pitch perfected, know your demo clean, and be hydrated.

Worth it for an established business? Definitely. If you’re marketing to small companies or startups, or hoping to connect with marketing and/or tech executives from top brands, it’s well worth attending.

How to make a splash? Have a little more budget? Lunch isn’t hosted, which makes a hosted lunch off-site a great opportunity to connect with clients/investors/or anyone else you’re hoping to chat with.


2. DroidCon, or in other words, the best conference(s) for Android developers. Each event is organized by a different entity but every organizing team has an understanding of the local dev community. Events are 2-3 days of technical workshops and sessions, with light emphasis on networking at the end of the day. 

What makes it the best? The content is always relevant and presented by Android leaders. The organizers are deep into the Android ecosystem, and content creators in their own right. In fact, many, like TouchLab’s Blog and I AM LIAM, are well-known bloggers . The events we’ve participated in (NYC, SF, and India) are all really well organized. I’m continuously surprised by the representation of developers from popular apps, and whose success with oppitamize.

Worth it for a startup? If you’re in the Play Store, or want to be, you need to be at Droidcon. Every day the Android ecosystem becomes more fractured, and Droidcon will show you how to piece it all together. If you’re looking for an Android Developer or CTO for your mobile first company, I wouldn’t look anywhere else.  

How to make a splash? Be involved in advance, vote for the sessions you want to see on the event site. If you’re an expert at Android, pitch yourself to speak.

Worth it for an established business? Yes. If you want to be top of mind for today’s and tomorrow’s leaders on Android you have to be involved with Droidcon.

How to make a splash? Don’t send a marketer. Do send swag. If you’re sponsoring, your booth will get a ton of traffic, so the people there need to know your tech inside and out or your ROI will suffer. Devs don’t carry business cards anymore: have some swag if you’re hoping to stay in touch.

3. Mobile Shopping, US. An elaborate event that brings together mobile leaders in retail for 2.5 days of sessions, roundtables and networking in Palm Springs, CA.  

What makes it the best? The people. The content was largely a hit and they truly brought together the top brands that are leading the charge on mobile. Be aware, 50% of the audience is ahead of the game on mobile, the other half are trying to catch-up.

Worth it for a startup? No. Unless you already know you have stellar product-market fit for the retail vertical, it isn’t worth the cost to attend.

Worth it for an established business? Absolutely.

How to make a splash? Be a person with a plan. You’ll obviously know who’s on the top of your list to connect with at the event, use the app and networking time to chat. The conference doesn’t host dinner, bring your clients and future customers together over great food and wine to talk about business (or not).

Honorable Mention: App Developer Alliance, and their global App Strategy Workshop series were some of my favorite events in 2016. The marketing/events team, Chelsea Larson-Andrews and Beverley Eve, recognize that strong, relevant content makes for a great event. The content they curated and their messaging is unparalleled. At the end of the year, ADA decided to focus more on policy and their marketing team broke off to start DevMode, helping companies understand, connect, and engage with developer audiences. So, the only reason their events aren’t at the top of this list is because, for the time being, they aren’t focused on organizing events.

Onsite event success is not a given. To borrow a popular slogan, “Come hungry, leave happy”. You never know who the person is you’re selling. It might be your next investor or partner or biggest client, so pitch everyone. Have a plan, be prepared to iterate, and stay focused.