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Exhibiting Your Startup at an Expo: The Ultimate Packing List

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We recently participated in an awesome ed-tech expo where we had the opportunity to have a table and demo ProfessorWord to attendees. We've done this a few times before, but I almost always forget to bring something important.

So I thought that I would write up a packing list for myself, and share it with you, in case it's helpful. Here's my list of things to bring when you're demoing your startup at a table/booth:


  • PW-26-3.JPGPoster/Banner/Sign, because you definitely need something to hang on your table or on the wall behind you, so attendees can see you from across the room and know who you are. These can be fancy (like these trade-show signs) or not (like the $20 banner we have from Vistaprint).
  • Tablecloth, because in a room full of white tables, a colorful booth can really help you stand out.
  • Business Cards, because even in this digital age, I find that most people still ask for your business card.
  • Other Promotional Stuff, because attendees are checking out dozens/hundreds of booths and you want to give them something that they can dig out of their bag at the end of the night and remember you by. We have postcards (Vistaprint) and logo stickers (StickerYou).
  • Candy/Candy Bowl, because having candy always makes you a crowd favorite. Always.

Tech Stuff

  • PW-26-1.JPGLaptop/iPad/Tablet/Device
    • Charger, because these events can go for hours and your battery (probably) can't. Consider getting a multi-port charger since you may only have access to one outlet.
    • Monitor/Monitor Stand/Video Adapter, because it's easier for people to see your demo on a bigger screen and without having to bend over. But monitors are a pain to lug to an event, so we only use them when needed.
    • Wireless Keyboard/Mouse, because it'll be way easier to navigate the screen if you have a monitor set-up.
  • Phone charger, because wifi at expos are notoriously overwhelmed and you may need to break out your hotspot to do a demo, which will kill your battery.
  • Extension Cords, because there's never an outlet where you need one.
  • Screenwipes, because all your devices will get dirty pretty fast with all the people touching them.  
  • Packing Tape, because tape always comes in handy. Always.
  • Screwdriver/Other Tools, because you may need them to set up your monitor/monitor stand.
  • Extras, have extras of anything you often use like batteries, chargers, video adapter cords, etc.
  • Ikea Bags, because those big blue 99 cent Ikea bags are a super convenient way to carry everything.

Personal Stuff

  • PW-26-4.JPGWater, because you'll need it after talking nonstop for three hours.
  • Mints, because you'll be in close quarters and you want to be minty fresh.
  • Granola Bars and Other Snacks, because having low blood sugar is never a good thing.
  • Hand Sanitizer, because you'll be shaking lots of hands and during flu season, that's not good.
  • Tissues, see above.  

General Suggestions

  • Multiple people at an expo may be more "expensive" in terms of time/money, but there are advantages, especially for a long event. For one thing, you can actually go to the bathroom/get food/take a call/answer emails/step away from the table if you need to. I also find that it helps make your table/booth more accessible to attendees, because I find that attendees tend to be more cautious about approaching a booth with just one person (or maybe, it's just me?). If you can't have multiple people attend, try to get a friend to stop by at some pre-arranged time to give you a much-needed break.
  • Consider wearing company t-shirts or other bright-colored clothing to stand out in the crowd. You want to make it easy for the attendees to spot you. And, of course, wear comfortable shoes!

Hope that helps. Let me know if you have anything to add to this list @professorword.

Until next time,


See also:

  Have questions or feedback? Comment below or let me know on Twitter @professorword!

Photo Credit: Flickr user Sean Freese





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