The European Tech Tour Association launched the first vertical Summit in 2006 (Semiconductor Summit) in a series of vertical events that will gather the best emerging European companies in a given industry sector.

This initiative sprouted from the need to identify and showcase European technology start-ups in a vertical industry segment to professionals investing or working within this industry. The concept is to structure a best of best startup track along side an innovative industry specific initiative.

Based on the words from the website, it appears that the growth of the TechTour has been both expected, but the rate at which it’s grown has been surprising. The concept of being able to highlight some of the most innovating, ground breaking ideas in the industry on various topics has worked well for the last four years and has no signs of going weak.

The Event Itself

TechTour is nonprofit organization that puts on many events and they either have a country focus or they are industry focus, but both welcome investors, startups, and innovators to come together. Each of them repeat themselves every 3 or 4 years providing a cycle between each event and summit.

Robert Lang

More specifically, the Web & Mobility Summit, which takes place on November 18-19, 2009. It is during these events that we pull together a committee from the industry, venture capitalists, and business angels.

As companies are encouraged to apply, they are responsible for reviewing all the companies in order to determine which will ultimately present. Not all companies will apply. Some companies have enough money to grow their business, so don’t feel the need to present before venture capitalists.

After selection is completed, the committee will have approximately 200 companies in the database and from there will break down to 25-30 companies that will ultimately be invited to present at the summit. In attendance will be approximately 100 to 150 delegates mainly from the investor side and private equity industry. Some are just looking for innovation and what’s happening in a specific sector.

“All the CEO’s will have 20 minutes to present their company and in turn the delegates will walkway with a USB stick of the presentations. The pre-selection process involves one screener and one reviewer, so in the end each company has been looked at twice by a qualified group of people,” says Robert Lang, President of the TechTour Web & Mobility Summit.

This tight screening ensures the highest quality and most thorough review of all companies presenting. Each CEO has roughly 30 min. time to present and a summarized version is provided in a nice binder. It’s also available on a USB stick that screeners will be able to carry wherever they go. Naturally you still get to meet everyone and carry great conversation.

Selection of Topics

Summits have a “topic” or industry focus – the geographic Tech Tours are based on a range of industries from the region.

“As you go from country to country you get different topics, different verticals, and there’s a lot of interest in all sorts of topics,” says Robert.

In some cases, without a specific focus on a sector, the event becomes too broad and risks not being appealing for someone in the US for example. But if a vertical is selected for example, Clean Technology, then chances are you’ll draw many more people from all over to hear what’s happening in that specific industry.

When asked how long it had been since a Web & Mobility Summit, Robert says, “The last mobility summit was in 2007, but now we’re doing it again.”

The Takeaway

When it comes to participation, Robert comments that man ask the question, “why should I apply?” If you were a company that had a chance to present before 100 VC’s, it acts as a strong introduction for the company, especially if you’ve been pre-screened and preselected. The companies that apply would be looking for expansion capital, startup capital, or go beyond seed money.

There are other companies that do not make it past the selection committee. Still, these companies will get exposure just from the selection committee alone. So while some companies may not have been a good candidate for the event, the screeners will remember particular companies and keep an eye on them or they themselves might provide capital if they feel the company is strong enough.

With regards to the kinds of deals this companies can make, Robert Lang says, “Lots can happen behind the scenes from those that didn’t make it but still seem a viable opportunity.”

In the end, Robert says that every company involved should hopefully takeaway the opportunity for an investor to be interested enough to help the company break through.

Partner Assistance

Because it’s a nonprofit, each event lives off delegate fees and their sponsors. Since it’s moving around to many countries, VC’s are regular supporters who will do at least one tech tour a year. There are many other sponsors who become partners by offering meeting rooms and other amenities that help make it a success. Mostly it’s companies looking for innovation that help sponsor these events.

“There’s quite a mixture of partners, but the identification of being with the TechTour is becoming substantial on it’s own and there are benefits to be had by participating,” Robert says confidently when asked about the direct benefits to the partners.

The VP and President of the events are selected differently every year as the tour moves providing experience and an opportunity to be a part of this event. It also attracts new faces based on those individuals personal networks and the reach of the conference can grow exponentially.

Robert Lang is happy to have sponsors and states, “If we didn’t have sponsors we could not run the event.”

2009 Expectations

Robert notes that in this time of crisis, he’s looking forward to seeing well trained, well disciplined companies who have not gotten any funding for a while that are going to be more fine tuned and well developed. Many are looking forward to the dinner in the Olympic museum over looking Lake Geneva. It’s important to note that the combo of doing great business and dealings mixed with fine dining and mingling at a great venue is a sure fire way to keep the interest.

“If events are not interesting people leave and aren’t inspired to be there, but this event is sure to keep people motivated and engaged,” Robert Lang comments.

To get more information on how you can be a part of this event, either as an investor or as a presenter, or even if you’re just looking forward to attending, be sure to visit the site for more information.

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