10 tips for a successful scouting visit to
Having recently lead a successful Indian business delegation to Israel, I sat down the next morning, tired yet still exhilarated from the hectic week, and jotted down a few important tips that made this visit, especially successful (to the delegation members).
Coming to 'Startup Nation' for the first time, can be somewhat overwhelming with the amount of startups, incubators, accelerators and everything in between. Too often I've seen Indian delegations rush through a packed schedule, from one meeting to the next, only to go home with very little substance in terms of sincere business commitments.
REMEMBER: If the only things you got out of a scouting visit are a stack of business cards and emailed presentations (that could have been sent through a Skype call), then you haven't achieved the most of what a 'Scouting Visit' can offer you.
Here are my Top 10 tips for planning (and executing) a productive Scouting Visit to "Startup Nation":
1) Look for an "Anchoring Event": It's quite obvious that you get a whole lot of value for your money if you plan your trip around a relevant event in Israel that covers your industry space. You get to see lots of companies, speakers and do a whole lot of networking. All the more so if you can get to grab some stage time and give a presentation. Then again, these are normally very noisy events, with lots of people fighting for attention. Most of the value from all those leads are normally accomplished 2-4 days later in follow up 1:1 meetings at the company's offices. So leave yourself at best a few days post an event, with room in your schedule for those extra new meetings.
2) Arrive early: And if you're coming to an event, arrive the day before, have a good night's sleep 'cos you'll be busy for the first few days, from morning until night. Besides, you don't want a missed connecting flight to ruin your whole meeting schedule. Just arrive early.
3) Bring 'your India' to the forefront: Most Israelis have experienced India from the back streets of Varanasi and the alley ways of Rishikesh. Make a point of exposing them to the 'business India' in which you operate. Show them the breadth of your business network, the size of your operations and the reach of your customer base.
4) Stay focused, and stay focused: Coming to Startup Nation scouting for innovation is like walking into a chocolate factory. You can get easily get pulled in many directions by all sorts of new stuff. Try to visit only companies within your space, 'cos chances are, there's plenty to see before you spread yourself too thin.
5) Know which meeting NOT to book: And in follow up to the previous point, know which meetings NOT to politely decline. It's OK- Israelis are just as OK on getting a 'no' as they are in giving one…
6) Leave room for the magic to happen: Fill your schedule full in the first 3 days, but on the other side, leave open space for new encounters and follow up meetings. Startup Nation has its on magic with its people and new opportunities and if you want to taste some of it, leave room for the magic to happen. Trust me, Israel has never sent home an unhappy customer.
7) Stay the weekend: Break your busy schedule with a weekend in the middle, take a break and be a tourist for a day. Israel slows down on Friday and shuts down on Saturday, so take that time to catch up on sleep, see Jerusalem, go to the beach, or hit the bars. It's a tough job, but someone has to do it.
8) Save the restaurants, order pizza: The best way to engage the companies you're meeting is at their offices. Get to see their team, their work space, and save on fancy restaurants, by ordering pizza and having a long night with beers by the white board. It doesn't get more creative and team-building than that!!
9) Engage the public: Doing a meetup event, dedicated to your needs is a great way to win exposure and make connections
10) Logistics: You've just spent on booking airline tickets, hotels for a visit to Israel. Don't go cheap on the following logistics:
A local SIM card with phone and data is a must these days for connecting with the locals from one meeting to the next.
Just as you expect us to download 'Ola' when coming to India, make sure you download (and use) 'Gett' for catching quick taxies from one meeting to the next (Uber is not as big in Israel as elsewhere).
And finally, your trip's goals don't end until you signed once back home. It is very easy to go home and fall back into the daily routine and backlog of tasks, but doing 'Trip Summary' and conducting a proper follow up are crucial to reaching the goals set before the start of the mission.
One can easily estimate a budget for planning a business visit, considering the time allotted, logistics and the resources required. While you can always cut the budget and do it 'on the cheap', planning a visit with the right budget in mind, is a valuable strategic investment in your company's efforts to scout for innovation.