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Maximizing Conference ROI: Investors vs. Startups

Ray Fitzpatrick, CEO at Profitual, gives his reflections on attending conferences as a founder vs. an investor. Read on!

A New Perspective

The great thing about starting Profitual is that I’m still attending many of the same conferences I did as a VC, given that we sell to other startups to help them with financial intelligence. The conferences are still the same, but things are very different in how we prepare and measure ROI (Return on Investment). Here are some of the notable differences. 

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When attending conferences as an investor, I didn’t have to put much effort into meeting other startups. They all wanted to meet and talk about their business! Getting meetings with investors was a little more challenging, but usually, one quick email and we would get something set up. 

Wow, has things changed! 

Now we’re on the conference app scouring for ideal connections to make, trolling LinkedIn, sending cold emails and sending a combo of messages through all three mediums to try and secure a meeting. Time is scarce, and folks have no interest in meeting unless you can concisely explain what’s in it for them. 

How to calculate ROI? 

Things were more qualitative when I was an investor. You wanted to meet some startups, take in some sessions, and ideally meet a few investors who you may co-invest with in the future. That was a good conference! 

Now, as a startup, it’s been more of a planned-out grind. At Profitual, we’re preparing to go to SaaS North in mid-November and we’ve been planning for it for at least 6 weeks. Multiple team members are participating, budgets are being set, swag is being ordered, and booths to staff. When calculating ROI, we focused on two areas: Cost & Return.

Cost: This is the easier one to calculate of the two, but a lot of thought has to go into it. The booth is the most significant cost ($8K!), along with everything from swag, flights, meals, hotels, and incidentals. The cost is quite large when you start adding everything up. Note here that we also talked to funding providers to see if we could offset any of the costs for this type of business development. 

Return: Much harder to calculate. Obviously, sales are the end goal, but there also must be leading indicators to show that attending the conference is worth the cost. Should it be demos delivered? Startups met? Follow-ups? It’s probably a combination of all of them, and since this is our first booth, we are really just starting to figure out what’s realistic to expect. 

Since we’re huge proponents at Profitual of tracking financial metrics, we will capture all costs and the returns to see if the ROI is there for us to attend again next year. 

If you want to see the outcome after the conference, tune into the follow-up, giving the final results!

Interested in attending SaaS North? As we are attending the conference as an exhibitor, we can share 25% off regular passes with you! 


And if you're going, stop by our booth! Pre-book a demo and get a Profitual hoodie to wear while you're there!

Ray Fitzpatrick

CEO & Co-Founder