Exhibitions and conferences are without doubt, one of the best places to meet startups. In the technology sector, the biggest of them all is probably South by Southwest, which takes place in Austin, Texas, every year. Outside of the US, theres Web Summit, which takes place in Lisbon, Portugal. These events are startup magnets. Go forth, connect and innovate.
2. Coworking spaces
At MassChallenge, were big fans of coworking spaces (we share our offices with our startups!). The reason is simple; they offer one of most intimate ways to connect and collaborate with startups. Even better, there are coworking spaces for every industry and sector, so youre bound to find one that meets your strategic needs. Some coworking spaces may welcome office hours from corporate leaders who have deep domain expertise – so why not set some up? Or consider taking a desk or two at one of these spaces, work from there part of the week, and drink in the startup vibes?
You can also find great student entrepreneurs at pitch competitions, university incubators (which often have showcases or networking events), university entrepreneur clubs, or by taking part in their mentoring programs (which also often have pitch events or networking events for the public).
Interesting fact: At MassChallenge Boston, 33% of startups from 2013-2015 had at least one student founder — many from top universities like MIT and Harvard, and many who have gone on to win our top equity free cash prizes.
Meetup.com is an online community of groups of people (who meet offline), with a shared interest. But did you know that there were also groups for startup communities? A quick search on the website for startups and innovation revealed groups ranging from startups in Fintech and digital health, to female founder groups.
Membership of a group can range from a few hundred to 30K, giving you flexibility to manage interaction levels with group members.
5. Accelerators and incubators
For a more targeted and structured approach, try an accelerator or incubator. Some are sector-specific, corporate backed or VC-backed, while others, like MassChallenge, are industry agnostic. With the proliferation of corporate accelerators, we know that most corporations have already cottoned onto this trend. What is the difference between an accelerator vs incubator? Click here to learn more.
6. Linkedin and Facebook
Linkedin strength lies in its groups. Whatever your industry or sector, you can be sure that theres a Linkedin group for you. A recent search for startups on the platform brought up over 2.5K startup communities specializing in different industries and sectors. Facebook is also a strong channel for groups. It is also the channel where many startups live for their own social interactions. Look for the [City] Startups group or [City] Startup Events Group in your city to get engaged.
Over to you: what are your preferred places for finding startups?
Also, if youve already found some (or are actively looking) and want to understand how to maximize those relationships, were hosting a webinar on July 20th on How to Win at Startup/Corporate Collaboration. The webinar will also share details of the first-of-its-kind survey on startup/corporate partnerships. Register for the webinar and be one of the first to receive the report.