Making your startup exhibit stand out from the crowd can be challenging. When you are pitching your business to someone who has just heard 10 pitches before you, it is very likely that despite their interest, they won’t retain much of what you say. Think the classic zen tea-cup story.
At this year’s Unbound London event, there were close to 200 stands each containing an innovative business, and with standards set so high, it was even more challenging to stand out amidst the noise.
That said, there were certain startups which used effective techniques to catch attention, which I believe serve as good case studies for startups wanting to pack a punch in future events. Respectively, they did this by enticing curiosity, evoking enjoyable emotion, and using physical interaction. Interestingly, all minimised the need for spoken words.
Cinemagica – This 360-degree video company had an intriguing prop on display. It was a model of what looked like a modified upside-down fishbowl. I could not make sense of what it could be and needed to find out or it would nag at my mind. If you can put an itch in someone’s mind, they will be strongly compelled to get rid of it, and the way they do that is by talking to you. As it turned out, the prop represented an inflatable viewing space for groups of people to watch 360-degree videos together. Clever.
We See Through – This consumer insight company hooked me with footage. On a large screen was a first-person video showing what it would look like if you were surfing in a beautiful beach. I didn’t know what the company did, but I wanted more. And before you ask why did something as simple as a video of surfing work, remember the message of Simon Sinek: If you get the emotion part of the brain hooked, the logic part will want to justify the interest.
Tovertafel – This company uses technology to create games that stimulate social participation from people with dementia. In this case, the image of leaves were projected from an overhead device. When swept with your hand, the leaves moved as if you were touching them. There was something satisfying about being able to interact in such as simple, playful way. This is why you can touch and play with phones, tablets, and laptops at Apple stores; it creates connection.
While each company used a different method to stand out from the crowd, there was one common element. Each was able to hook interest by having an engaging visual that could be seen from a distance, while not giving away exactly what the business was. This prompted people to come talk in order to satisfy their curiosity. When you find yourself in a similar situation, what will your engaging hook be?