We are still building StartupStay.com but there’s no reason why we cannot generate Startup Stay experiences in the meantime.
I signed up in January to Techcrunch Baltics and TechHub’s official launch party in Riga. It was a great opportunity to meet entrepreneurs from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in one spot, promote Startup Stay and also my chance to live and breathe the first experience.
Then, we simply exchanged a couple of emails with relevant information such as phone numbers, time of arrival, departure, plans, ideas, etc. It was going to get extremely cold so two days before I left London, I bought for the first time in my life a pair of Long Johns!
Here’s the experience:
I arrived at Riga airport on February 7th at 6PM. Maris, very kindly came with his car to pick me up from the airport. I was very thankful for that, I had not expected it.
We arrived at his place, dropped the bag and went out to a local meet-up in a bar. Latvian beer is great folks!
Afterwards, Maris and I visited a few interesting places, including a cool lounge bar where I tried a warm local drink: Black Balsam with blackcurrant juice. I highly recommend it!
The next morning, we did a short circuit on a different part of the city, with direction to the co-working space, TechHub. These walks with my local host Maris where very rich since I got to learn more about him, his company, Riga and its people.
Once in TechHub, we worked throughout the day and also gave the staff a hand to set up the place for the party the day after.
At lunchtime, we hooked up with the lads from Livesheets.com (a startup reinventing the spreadsheet) and shared some interesting insights.
Tip: Even though the Latvian Lat is worth more that the British Pound, prices are very accessible! A meal could cost 6 Lats (€8 or US$11 or £7) including a drink. A draft beer in any bar costs about 1.8 Lats only!
On Wednesday night, I offered to cook dinner for Maris and his girlfriend, Zana. After the food, we went out for a final tour on the streets of Riga.
I found it pretty interesting that many shops have implemented a bar on-site to serve coffee and/or alcoholic drinks. This makes people socialise and stay longer.
On day three, Maris and I went to a business networking breakfast offered by the team at TechHub Riga, where we met some interesting entrepreneurs and investors. Then, we walked to the Albert Hotel for Techcrunch Baltics.
The full-day conference was quite interesting but the quality of the people I met was fantastic. I got a chance to collect great feedback about Startup Stay and recruit many potential early adopters. I also got to discover many new brilliant startups that entrepreneurs in Baltic countries are working on.
I have since connected with them on LinkedIn and Twitter so I’m now in touch with many of them.
After the conference, we moved over to TechHub where we enjoyed a phenomenal launch party. I also had the opportunity to meet other startups that I missed at the conference.
The Finnish guys from Startup Sauna where one of the highlights of the night since they brought their sauna-trailer to the party!
Friday morning was time to go home. I was very happy with the full experience, that would have never been possible without the help of my host entrepreneur, Maris Jonovs. Thanks very much mate!
Here’s a short video capturing my @StartupStay experience in Riga, Latvia: