How Crashing A Trade Show Saved Helprace


Startups can greatly benefit from attending conferences, especially if they are fighting tooth and nail to build awareness. That’s what founder Gregory Koldirkaev had to resort to when he decided to take on Zendesk and Getsatisfaction with his own customer service platform, Helprace.

After getting a small investment a decade ago, a small group of software engineers were recruited to develop a knowledge-based software. In a year, the client base grew into the hundreds. Then came the market crash, reducing the team to virtually zero.This forced a pivot into the customer service software market. Enter the need to leverage trade shows to pitch the new value proposition and get clients. There was a little problem, however. Cash flow had ground to a halt and there was a $1000 in the bank.

It was time to make a gamble. One of the world’s top customer service conferences was approaching fast. Every minute lost sitting idly in the IT industry means digging your own grave, but with the cost to register as a visitor in the prestigious Atlantic City conference priced in the thousands, it was time to get creative!

How to crash the conference without paying those pesky fees?

Staring at potential failure of his startup, Gregory had a Eureka moment. He called and called the organizers, explaining how he was a tech entrepreneur and unable to afford the ticket. Luckily, he was able to squeeze out the guest invitation he so desperately needed. (If that doesn’t work for you, think of people you know who are exhibiting and ask them to get you a free pass.)

“After hearing the news, I began dissecting my visit right there and then,” laughs Gregory. “I realized I’m going to be around people who paid all that money, who were meant to be there.”

Make the Conference Work For You

Being on your feet and pitching your product for 10 hours straight will exhaust you, so get enough sleep and plan out every move the night before.

“I made sure to have my phone ready to show relevant videos or demos before I even walked up to the booth,” recalls Gregory. “It was a great way to refresh my memory and and recap relevant discussion material.”

Large trade shows can seem overwhelming, and you can waste a good chunk of your day wandering around without getting much done. Make sure to divide up your time between the exhibitors and leave a window at the end to visit the booths you might have missed.

So Was It Worth The Risk?

Gregory booked a flight from Chicago to Atlantic City. He checked into a cheap $40 motel room 30 minutes away (to save money, of course), and was in first when the doors opened.

When all was said and done, Gregory netted hundreds of high quality leads and networking prospects. This enabled Helprace to get going with the new model and has led to many great clients and growing success.

As startup founders we always have to be willing to push the envelope, take educated gambles and be willing to fail. We can’t always control the outcome, but we do have to be ready to seize opportunity when it comes our way!

In situations like this, I, for one, can’t think of a better way to invest $300. Can you?

What is Helprace anyway?

helpraceHelprace is an emerging provider of cloud-based customer service solutions. It consists of a helpdesk ticketing system, community and a knowledge base for end-users. Users can ask a question, share an idea, report a problem or give praise. This data is seamlessly integrated into the admin interface, and support agents can directly participate in conversations. Learn more at



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