Why Tel Aviv?
While we were doing some research on new markets, we could tap into for our knowledge base management product—Document360, we decided to catch up in person with technical writers in SaaS companies and startups who are likely to use our product most. So, we wanted to visit locations where we could meet up with a large group of technical writers.
We zeroed in on Tel Aviv because it has the third-highest number of startups per capita in the world. Data shows that annually around 3,000 new startups are launched in Israel. We also genuinely believe that the startup and SaaS community need a platform like Document360 because some of the traditional documentation tools used by them do not cater to business agility.
We also wanted to meet in person our existing customers in Tel Aviv and get their feedback on the product and service as well as to understand the Israel market better.
With that in mind, we decided to host an event exclusively for technical writers to create awareness about Document360.
Inviting Technical Writers
The next step was finalizing a date & inviting technical writers in Tel Aviv to register for the event. While we reached out to some of our existing customers, we also got in touch with technical writing experts & influencers in the region to be a part of the event. Some of their followers and others in the community soon followed up by registering for the event.
We put up the event on our website & social media channels especially LinkedIn which attracted a more participants.
I flew to Chennai on September 16th and took a flight to Tel Aviv via Dubai on the 17th. I reached the city of Tel Aviv on the same day evening. Since I usually love absorbing the local culture, I took opportunities to chat with a few locals on my flight. They advised me to not pay more than 150 shekel for my taxi from the airport to the hotel. My first taxi guy demanded 300 shekel but I insisted on paying 150 shekel and bargained till I found a taxi which agreed to 170 shekel. While I felt super satisfied at not getting ripped off, I felt even more awesome when another guest at the hotel who landed a few hours later, told me he paid 340 shekel for the same ride.
Document360’s technical writers meet
We hosted the technical writers’ meet at the Hilton, which besides being prestigious, was a beautiful hotel providing a picturesque view of the beach. The location played a part in attracting more attendees. More than 30 senior writers from top startups participated in the event. While 40% of the attendees were existing customers, 60% were potential new customers.
The first session involved our Founder & CEO, Saravana walking the audience through Document360, explaining how it can help thousands of startups release their documentation in no time.
t was followed by a panel discussion by Saravana and three prominent technical writers the outcome of which was an eye-opener for us on common challenges faced by writers. These deliberations helped us understand customer pain points and features that would really make a difference for them.
The great feedback received for Document360 made it an extremely fulfilling, productive evening.
The sights and Streets of Tel Aviv
Saravana and I took a walk along the beach on Sunday before our meet and learned a bit about Israeli culture. We found a lot of people exercising, taking brisk walks, and being extremely health conscious. While we did not have time to savor local food, I took some time to visit a local art gallery. The highlight of my walk around was Rambam St (Graffiti Street), which was extremely colorful, abstract, extremely inspiring, and such a mood lifter.
It was also surprising to find people working out and playing sports at 10 pm at night on the beach and streets. Besides being physically active and fit, during my interactions at the conference and outside, I found Isrealis extremely technologically advanced. In fact, most two-wheelers on their roads are electric vehicles.
Isrealis also seemed permanently prepared for any eventuality, including war. I learned that it is compulsory for every citizen to undergo military training, for men its three years and for women its two years. They also lack the minerals resource that some countries have, but they more than make up for it by taking risks, and constantly launching new start-ups to fill the gaps including converting seawater to drinking water. I tasted the filtered water, it tasted like seawater without the salt.
My learning from these observations was that when we deal with such a technically strong group of customers, we need to be extremely quick in responding to their queries or issues and sorting it out. They are also a great market to tap into, not just because of the sheer number of startups, but because the people are super friendly, extremely smart, and inspiring. I believe that by working and continually interacting with them, we can enhance our products to a large extent.
We also decided to showcase Document360 at the two-day NORDIC TechKomm, which took place on September 21 and 22.
I reached Copenhagen on September 19, Monday, where I spent the next one-week. Saravana and I had decided to visit Copenhagen for the two-day NORDIC TechKomm, which was scheduled on September 21 & 22. NORDIC Techkomm is one of the largest gatherings of technical communicators in Europe, and we thought it’s a great opportunity to again to present Document360 to them and also get an idea of the products, features, and facilities they were looking for.
We decided to have a stall at the event for us to answer potential customer queries and conduct demonstrations. We also scheduled a presentation on Document360 during a session.
The main topic of the conference was “Intelligent Information for Users”, so the program revolved around content generation, customer interaction and collaboration, agile project management among others. It is attended every year by people in the field of technical communication including technical writers, information developers, technical communication managers and content architects.
Saravana and I decided to spend the first day attending a few talks and sessions, to understand the audience and market. We were the only SaaS-based knowledge base on display and presenting at the conference. By afternoon, things began picking up pace with me networking and sending interesting people to our stall where Saravana performed demos for them.
We got leads and a glimpse into future markets we should be exploring.
Out and About in Copenhagen
It was my first visit to a NORDIC country, and I landed with the only thing I knew about Denmark being Vikings. The first thing I noticed was a large board outside the airport that read,
You are now shopping in the eighth most expensive country in the world. Spend your money wisely, go to Netto.
The advertising stayed on my mind for a very long time because I found it so succinct, simple, yet effective.
Keeping up with their advice, I took a train to my hotel, because I wanted to experience local travel. As I entered the city, I was surprised to notice literally everyone riding a bicycle. I repeat that I meant literally everyone, including children, old people, men, and women. It was only then done I learn that Copenhagen is also called the cycle city.
In fact, even buses and local trains, have a section where people can load their bicycles before taking a seat. That was the extent they went to encourage use of bicycles. There were tons of electric cars, which led to the air not having any pollution.
Document360 customer visit
The next day I took a train to Ballerup in Denmark to meet one of our customers. Thinking it would be an official visit, I went in formals only to find everyone in their office dressed in t-shirts and shorts and sipping on beers. They instantly welcomed me and set me up with a cake before we began discussions.
This visit made my day because the clients spoke about how much they loved Document360 and the value it added to them. They also appreciated our strong customer support system in place.
The same evening, I went to the conference location to set up our booth at the NORDIC Techkomm . I had taken all the material with me including the foldable standee, brochures, merchandise etc.
On September 21, NORDIC Techkomm organized a networking dinner. Saravana and I were seated at table number, which had two women—one of whom was Danish and the other was French—and participants from Norway and Sweden too. It was great to understand their pain points, requirements, various fields that use technical writing, and business opportunities in all of them.
The NORDIC Techkomm team had organized a city tour for the participants. The guide gave us an amazing glimpse into the city’s and country’s history during the tour, giving us interesting insights on how the city was built. He showed us the Amalienborg Palace, where the royal family still lives, and their princess is an Australian! That was very special to me because I spent many years studying and working in Australia.
He later went on to show some of Copenhagen’s popular fountains and told us the story of why King Christian VI is known as the builder king. There is a story that the king had once visited Amsterdam and was awed by the buildings and canals running through them, and decided he wanted to build Copenhagen the same way. The city’s planning and architecture is truly stunning.
Nyhaven, with its colorful buildings, was also a treat to see and walk through. Apparently, each house was painted a different color so it could be easy to identify them because otherwise, they all look the same. I also witnessed the famous Mermaid statue, inspired by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen’s much-loved tale “The little mermaid”.
We ended the day with some traditional Danish food.
Considering the size of the startup space in Tel Aviv, I believe we need to visit the city and country more often and hold more such events, reaching out and attracting potential customers. The human connection and a product owner himself talking about it makes a lot of difference and the effort is worth it.
We should be conducting more such in-person events for technical writers in India because there are massive business opportunities in that too.