5 weeks ago we flew out from Israel to participate in KubeCon NA 2022. We were three - Roy (our CEO), Maayan (our Head of Marketing), and I. This was our first conference, and we didn’t know what to expect. Our swag was meeting us there - really cool elephant/bee socks.
We thought long about attending conferences in general, and KubeCon specifically. It was clear that among all the conferences this one would be most relevant, and would give us the best opportunity to meet potential customers, get to know competitors, and in general acquire a feel for the direction the industry is going.
Since we had never sponsored any conference as Raftt, we did not have a good sense of real value it could give us, and that is what finally made us decide to go ahead with it - and we are happy we did. 🙂
### Web-scale conference
The conference hall was massive, with hundreds of companies. I personally had never been to a conference at anywhere near this size, and it was quite intimidating!
There were several strong trends among the startups at the conference:
- security and compliance (Permit.io, Oxeye, Legit, …)
- cost visibility and optimization (Finout, Kubecost, CAST AI, …)
- ephemeral environments (env0, Velocity, yours truly, …)
all revolving around Kubernetes of course.
We saw people we knew from Israel, competitors in our space, and new companies making super cool products we didn’t even know about! I was excited about [Monokle](https://monokle.io/) (also had the best kube-shaped plushies!) and [Superblocks](https://www.superblocks.com/) (best giveaways!). We even made some friends along the way, people from booths near us (shout out to [CloudNatix](https://www.cloudnatix.com/)!).
As we expected, a large portion of the people that came to our booth were people from other booths, looking for partnerships or customers. Some specific companies were *very* highly represented… let’s call them, ahem, “analog sea” and “blue fedora”.
### Standing out from the crowd
Amongst the hundreds of booths and thousands of people, it was difficult for us to stand out at first. All the booths were well-designed, everyone had cool swag, and it was easy for people to just walk by. One of the problems was the placement; we were facing the wall, so people couldn’t see us from afar.
As time went on, we got better at pulling people in. The socks played a big part, and we even had people searching for our booth to get some elephant/bee socks! On the second day we held a drawing for a DJI drone, which was popular, and helped draw in people that [for some unknown reason] didn’t want socks.
The biggest factor though was changing our own behavior. By being proactive, starting up conversations, and reaching out to people both at our booth and around the venue we were able to get significantly more engagement. This directly translated to the metrics - on the second day we got 50% more leads and gave out 40% more socks than on the first day, and the last day of the conference (which is shorter and usually weaker) was almost as strong as the second!
### For next time
We had several conclusions for the next conferences we will be sponsoring. The first is to sign up early, so we get a better location, which translates to more people looking at our booth and more leads. The second is to attend with more people - 3 was too few, and left us with very little breathing room. Finally, we saw booths near us sponsor beer stands / … during the first day’s sponsor-hall happy-hour. This did not seem at all effective, and they were left with most of the beer!
We got a significant number of leads and gained valuable insights from this KubeCon, and so decided to sponsor the next as well, applying our learnings. Huge, enormous, appreciation for Maayan who organized everything. This would not have happened without you.
See you at KubeCon EU 2023!
Bonus - in-depth review of our socks:
The ability to focus on doing what you love best can be more than a bottled-up desire lost in a sea of frustration. Make it a reality — with Raftt.