The Start-Up’s view

Cannes in 360

Issue 48 | September 2018

Olga Egorsheva, CEO and Co-Founder of Lobster

This year, I wasn't able to make it to Cannes Lions. Instead, I was somewhere between Los Angeles, where I was speaking at Social Media Week, and Vienna, where we were pitching in the final of a competition.

I attended the festival last year as a participant in the Start-Up Academy sponsored by R/GA. And what a fantastic experience that was!

Cannes 2018 was still important to us, which is why we sent Rebecca Warger, our community manager, to spend two busy days at the event. Ideally, we would have decided to attend much earlier. Unfortunately, ticket prices are really prohibitive for start-ups, and this year they cancelled the reduced innovation package.

In the end, she managed to get a ticket through one of our investors, although she didn't spend too long in the Palais des Festivals. The fact is, you can see the talks later from the comfort of your sofa!

The time is better spent at the YouTube or Twitter beaches, where the talks are smaller and more relaxed. You can approach and talk to people after presentations more easily. And that's what the festival is really about, especially for a start-up: meeting some of the industry's most creative minds and raising awareness of the Lobster product.

AI and UGC are transforming how advertising works - most of the creatives that attend Cannes now do so with their eyes wide open. They seek out what's new, which is where a start- up like ours can prosper. Rebecca came back with a dozen new contacts who we will stay in touch with.

So, for start-ups Cannes Lions can be a great place to do business. My advice to anyone thinking about going next year is:

Do get into the R/GA-sponsored Start-Up Academy if you can. From pitching to interested marketers within the Palais, to exclusive networking opportunities and friendlier costs, it is an invaluable experience.

Try and get invites from your network to the private pool parties (Spotify, IPG and so on). This is the way it works.

You say it's your first time to Cannes. They say, "how interesting, what do you do?" And you're off, pitching.

  • Hang out at The Grand or The Martinez hotels for breakfast or drinks. Creatives are everywhere and open to conversation.
  • Do some guerrilla marketing. In 2017 we invited people to come to the beach and ride our inflatable lobsters in the sea. We were astonished by how many showed up - there are people in London who still remember lobster riding!
  • Be prepared to be exhausted. It's non-stop. But as the week goes on, don't fix any morning meetings. They'll be cancelled either because your contacts are hungover or because they are still partying.

Will I be in Cannes next year?
Well, Lobster has just raised another £3 million in funding, but we could do with more. We want to expand across Latam and Asia, and we need to spend more on AI-assisted technology.

But wherever creative people get together, and if there are investors there too, you can bet that Lobster will have a presence in some capacity.

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