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Startups exhibiting at tech conferences in Singapore and Vietnam, here’s how to get noticed

By Vyacheslav Semenikhin

Recently one of the most exciting events for startups – the exhibition of know-how in tech and business Echelon Asia Summit 2016 took place in Singapore. The best innovative products of Southeast Asia were represented here. For two days, 5,000 entrepreneurs and investors from all over Asia could be found at the exhibit. I can hardly imagine a startup that didn’t want to be there.

Our company iboxmpos participated in the Echelon Asia Summit 2016 not as a Vietnamese startup. We have passed the preselection to the Top 100 Vietnam Regional Qualifier: iboxmpos has been working in Vietnam for almost a year, and we took part in the local exhibitions regularly. That is why iboxmpos was able to establish itself in the local market and get to the Echelon Asia Summit. So what are the do’s and don’ts of working in Asia? How do you get noticed?

Add some colours

Our experience of participating in the international exhibitions in Asia proves that the design of a stand is particularly important. Forget minimalism and soft colours: the trends of Scandinavian design are badly perceived in the Asian countries. The stand should be simple but bright and catchy as well as technologically advanced. You will be noticed only in this case, especially if you are planning to offer your products directly to customers at the exhibition.

Let them touch it

Of course, talking about innovation and features of your product is necessary, but first, let visitors feel and touch it with their hands. This is very important to Asian entrepreneurs. They should be engaged in the process: let them try out the product for themselves.  In May, iboxmpos team participated in the Saigon Exhibition Vietnam Int’l Cafe Show 2016.

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Together with our partner, the Vietnamese coffee shop HighLands Coffee, we presented our new mobile  iboxRegister, which allows users to receive cash and make non-cash payments everywhere, even in the open field if there is a Bluetooth connection.  Together with the HighLands Coffee, we’ve been offering visitors a cup of iced tea and, at the same time, holding a trial transaction through our payment terminal using the app. Once the visitors understood how easy it is, they immediately showed some interest in the product.  We left the exhibit with the contacts of 170 potential customers, and we have already started working with many of them.

Get some local help

Many entrepreneurs, going to South-East Asia, are confident that they can cope on their own. Having worked on exhibitions in Vietnam, I can say with confidence: you can’t do it without local Vietnamese staff.

Why?

Being a foreigner, it’s hard to understand who is a prospective client and who is there simply to have a chat. For example, some young girls love visiting the stands of foreign companies. They are not interested in the product and initiate general conversations, simply because they would like to practice English. Understanding a mix of Vietnamese and English is not always easy and sometimes it’s just a waste of

Understanding a mix of Vietnamese and English is not always easy and sometimes it’s just a waste of time because the person you are talking to is not planning to buy anything. Your local staff will present your product in the mother tongue of your potential customers. And if you want to close a local deal, employ local salesmen. If they are properly trained and motivated, they will do miracles and close many new sign ups.

Invite other foreigners

People in South-East Asia are friendly and open. Vietnamese like to communicate with those who look differently. They treat foreigners with hospitality. However, this does not mean that they will do business with you or buy something from you. But if they see that other European executive are interested in your product, they understand it might be trustworthy. Once we invited the representatives of one British company to our stand to talk and show our technologies. Immediately a crowd of curious local entrepreneurs was formed around our booth.

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But if they see that other European executive are interested in your product, they understand it might be trustworthy. Once we invited the representatives of one British company to our stand to talk and show our technologies. Immediately a crowd of curious local entrepreneurs was formed around our booth.

Ask them to fill out a form

Businesses people in Asia, even decision makers – owners or top managers of local companies, do not always carry business cards. This makes it difficult to generate new contacts. If your guests do not have business cards, ask them to fill out a form. Most likely, they will do so. Vietnamese entrepreneurs are interested in new technology and innovation. If your product is good enough, top managers of Vietnamese companies will not refuse to put their data directly into your tablet.

Saving is easy!

International exhibitions in Saigon are not such landmark events as, for example, similar exhibits in Beijing or New York. But here you can meet potential partners not only from Vietnam. For example, Vietnam Int’l Cafe Show 2016 attracted over one hundred companies from different countries and more than 2,000 participants. At the same time renting the exhibition space will be two – three times cheaper than in Moscow.  If you participate in the Skolkovo micro-grant financing program, as we do, you can reduce your exhibition costs even more. Skolkovo compensates costs of promoting tech products on the international market to the promising

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At the same time renting the exhibition space will be two – three times cheaper than in Moscow.  If you participate in the Skolkovo micro-grant financing program, as we do, you can reduce your exhibition costs even more. Skolkovo compensates costs of promoting tech products on the international market to the promising high-tech companies. Thanks to our activities in Vietnam we got to the most significant event for startups in Asia – Echelon Asia Summit 2016! We were selected to the Top 100 Vietnam Regional Qualifier. We participated in this exhibition absolutely for free. We got a booth, and the information about our company was placed in all the handouts with no extra payment.

Making a 3 minute speech

Here is the last advice for those who plan to present their project to Echelon Asia Summit next year. Prepare your speech in advance! The investor has only three minutes to listen to you, and it is not that easy to meet this requirement in practice. Make it a simple and coherent presentation. The benefits of your project should be obvious immediately.

Best of luck!


This article, entitled “Startups exhibiting at tech conferences in Singapore and Vietnam, here’s how to get noticed” originally appeared on e27.

The author, Vyacheslav Semenikhin, is the director of global marketing at iboxmpos.

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