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Amsterdam trip


A bit of our team made a wonderful journey to the magical country of the Netherlands to participate in the world Blockchain Expo. Later  I received a lot of questions about how does it feel to participate in such a huge event, so I decided to present my memories below.


Preparing for the storm

Preparation in advance, check-lists, and other useful things are not our cups of tea. Of course, it's not about being bad-organized, but about being creative minds who are getting inspiration on the fly and yet sometimes at the last moment. Our biggest challenge was to present our small project as serious and yet interesting one on the world stage. How can we attract hundreds and thousands of people on our platform competing with experienced players who invest heavily in creating their launching pad? Brainstorming for a while, we dismissed thousands of ideas and focused on the core issue  –  a human approach. This is our strategy – transparency, openness.

It should be used in this form. The first thing we decided to make was a presentation, which would create a WOW effect on the reader. A lot of mocks were burned out without the right for restoration. Desperate designers started drawing prototypes on what was at hand - and presto! A tracing paper, which apparently had been lying on the table since old-believers typewriters waiting for its triumph, comes into the hands of our designer Olga.

A tracing paper. It was exactly what we needed. It is moderately transparent and thick. You can write, draw, apply effects while preserving a feeling of transparency, cleanliness, and depth. Immediately, the endorphin bomb caused the artists ' neurons to explode with renewed vigor to implement a concept that, after the realization can be summed up as WOW.  

Resembling little hobbits with One Ring, they fussed over the project, not showing it to anyone before the trial version – so big was the fear that the evocation would not correspond with their mental image.

Finally,  when our font manager Vladimir came with a ready-made version he could not hide his emotions, and almost crying (although he could be crying because of tough communication with print workers ) – presented us the release version. We were so amazed, that beautiful words of foul language filled the office.

The presentation was ready. The only thing left was to disseminate it and it could already be said that our "face" was ready and waiting for its display. But there will be a lot of people at the Expo  - how do we get their attention from afar?

Again, the brainstorming of our creative minds started rasping in the dark corners of the office. The tension was in the air, and even our artist, who created our first mascot  - Alphy the Bull -  accident was involved in the discussion. Just a quick look at Katerina dispelled any doubts -  our Alphy the Bull must be on the banner. Neither an infographic nor a windy talk. There should be our Alphy who will force all passer-by people to come to our stand.

Two out of three important components of the engagement chain were ready. We were able to attract people. We could give information. Yet, we needed to inspire and express the human attitude.

Here the garland was mine. I have always thought that the art of calligraphy is something magical and very interesting. And when I started thinking about expressing our attitude to visitors – I quickly realized that if our calligrapher signed personal cards to everyone who wanted to know more about our company, it would be stronger than even an expensive promo. And the main thing: people will remember it because it was written to them, it was personal and unusual.

And that's life. Sometimes you need to sweat to give birth to an idea,  and some concepts come out of thin air. But the main thing is even if everything that had been done before is thwarted  - is not a fail. All that was a bridge that led to the shore of a successful concept.



Surely, the day of the trip was exciting. Firstly, the printing office had to send us a ready volume of presentations. Secondly, the trip itself. Journey. Of course, in the best traditions of a good trip, everything went not so smoothly.

The first stumbling block was the printing house, which did not have time to deliver our childrens on time. Vladimir, as a responsible person for the war, rushed to pick them personally.  Only when arriving there, he realized that had underestimated their weight. These were really "weighty arguments" of our event. The total weight -  100 kg. Immediately the question of transportation come up  – we needed to find some space to pack the volumes in a short time.

In general, even this small fragment of Alphateca life shows how splendid abstract and creative vision can be applied to any aspect of our lives.

Amsterdam met us with the sun and mashed-up people. We went to the hotel to get ready for the next day. The first day of the Expo.

Surely, we had already laid out our gimmicks on the first day and it was too late and silly to rush to a candy shop, as it was not "Hell's Kitchen" show.


Expo Day 1

The first day of any event is very important. Firstly, you give a taste of the quality, and secondly, you know, what's in store for you. A tender-hearted organizer has informed us that the way from our hotel to the exhibition will take not more than 20 minutes to walk. But she forgot to specify that there are such interesting moments as the absence of pedestrian zones on some roads and if you walk on them, it turns out to take at least  1 hour. It does not matter – there is a taxi, call Uber, an excellent international system, which is so useful in many countries. Fun fact: Amsterdam taxi can stop not where you want, but only in special parking zones, which is extremely inconvenient for our brother.

Uber quickly brought us to the Expo and we saw a huge building, actually a modern barn, where hundreds of exhibitors from different countries gathered under the roof. And this wonderful smell of ozone from the printed entrance tickets for  Expo participants. An international crowd. Russian voice. Stop, what??? We thought we were going to be the only Russians in the event. But no. It turns out that there is a sufficient number of Russian speaking guys from Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Belarus.

Having entered into the internal spaces of Expo, I began to understand that some companies had invested nearly annual budgets of some small firms in the event. Miracles of design and details. All stands are full of various goodies for attraction. Everyone is friendly, good-looking, and full of interactive offers.  Will we be able to beat their approach to grab at least some piece of the crowd and interest them?

We were full of this panic feeling while walking to our stand. A lot of strong and experienced teams. Obviously, I tried to play poker.

When we reached the stand and began to unpack our roll-up, arrange furniture and lay out the printing materials -we realized that:

  • Roll-up should not be placed back as everyone does, it should be actually the first web on the way of passing people.
  • Typography should also be lying on the table, slightly pushed forward, so that guests from afar could see that there is something unusual and interesting to see.

We had a wonderful quartet: me, our artist Violette, Account manager Ksenya and Font manager Vladimir.

Initially, we planned me and Violetta sitting in front of the stand, and Vladimir with Ksenya beating a path to target clients and partners. Finally,  it turned out that the perfect scheme is different:  me and Vladimir, Ksenya and Vita.

Our  "customer funnel"worked the following way: firstly,  people saw a roll-up with the bull, which clearly stood out among all the other stands, then they saw Vladimir, who was making personal calligraphic and while they were waiting  I gave them information about the project.

Unlike all others, we did not have luxury banners, interactive stands. We were simple and showed that we are able to work with a completely different approach. With humanity, openness, and readiness to show our skills right then and there.

The day was emotional, productive, indicative. There were a lot of pleasant moments, especially when strangers came up to us and said that they heard at the other end of the hall that there were creative and interesting guys presenting an unusual project. Or when people were smiling having their postcard signed and immediately started taking photos with you and signing up for  Alphateca . It was also great when they were coming already knowing our names and talked about how they would like to become partners with us, even if they were from a different sphere.

Of course, there were moments when we knew that we had gone the wrong way, for example, we needed plasma to show our promo.  Or that the presentations are cool but too heavy to carry. Or that the business cards were a total fail as the concept was not implemented.

But mistakes are important and useful, as this is one more step to your dream.


Expo Day 2

The second day is like the second day of a wedding party - everyone has already got used to each other and everything goes in a more relaxed atmosphere. Nevertheless, it was the most important day for us. If on the first day we just presented the project, then the second day was the day of investors. Which implied a more formalized approach. It is important not only to show that you are creative but also assure the seriousness of your approach to the process.

The day started later and ended earlier. We also knew that people will go in waves, tied to the beginning and ending of lectures. On this day, everyone took out their gimmicks – FOOD. Yes! You would not believe, but the people began luring investors with cookies and cupcakes! What a shock! We did not even think that this could happen at the European summit. Ok, let it be. Surely, we had already laid out our gimmicks on the first day and it was too late and silly to rush to a candy shop, as it was not "Hell's Kitchen" show. Others tried to attract with everything they could - glasses, caps,  gadgets, bags. We had stickers and postcards - only souvenirs. Again, in their case, everything was done in large quantities and circulation, and in our case, part of our gift material was created right in front of a person. That definitely increased the loyalty level.

On this day there were quite serious technical and economic talks. Serious uncles,  bringing their auditors resembling tiny microscopes considered the projects under the maximum zoom, in order to assess whether it is worth considering even deeper.

A  pleasant moment occurred when after a long dialogue your interlocutor opened his notebook and started writing a brief summary of the Alphateca project.


The end. Amsterdam and other thoughts

To sum up, such Expo is a great opportunity to show yourself, your project, to prove that you are not a cheat and it is not a scam. That the team is not afraid to answer questions, that you are creative and able to meet with the expectations of you.

This is a great opportunity to get partners, to convey the information about your project to the target audience, get coverage in media.

Among other things, it is just a huge charge of energy and emotions, the opportunity to learn, gain information about current trends, as well as possible competitors from the top officials. Moreover, it is alive and active target audience that asks questions – and this is, actually, a huge stress- test of your platform.

I managed to visit different countries during my lifetime– France, Norway, Sweden, and others. But Amsterdam is a different city. It's a strange mix of different theses. It is contradictory cozy and not very clean. It is open and sometimes dark.  It has marvelous narrow streets with crowded bars and different small shops. It is certainly not the cheapest city – but the question is controversial – Oslo is more expensive. It is silly to judge a country only by its capital residents, as there are many tourists and all of the business is focused mostly on working with them. And every big city in any country has this sin. Anyway, I can tell you for sure - one day I will come back to Amsterdam and see it under my own microscope.