MEETING RECAP: TC3 Carrier Connections

Author: Telecom Council Staff

Our annual TC3 Carrier Connections fired up telecom attendees last week, as a heat wave washed over our host, SRI’s, Menlo Park Campus. We refreshed our format to fit the shifting industry, the roles of local representatives, and we focused on our 3 membership Forums – Service Provider, ComTech and IoT. As all industries seem to be tiring of endless conference opportunities, TC3 stands out as a Meeting designed around quality over quantity, and meaningful engagements over foot traffic, lectures, and booths.  Succeeding where many larger conferences fail, our 1-on-1 meetings continue to be a highlight. These meetings are pre-screened and pre-scheduled, thus are more meaningful than chance encounters. What’s more, people show up – unsurprisingly, a key success factor!

The history and purpose of TC3 has always been around hosting an “upside down” conference, one in which the big companies pitch the entrepreneurs. In our case, that means the network operators actually pitching to startups! We find that, while it is usually the small companies that need something from the big guys, the big guys ALSO need the entrepreneurs and their innovations. So, the telcos take the time, once a year, to speak to the startup community and tell them why it’s beneficial to work with them. Over 20 carriers presented, stating directly their innovation needs for the next year, and the best ways to engage with them to develop a partnership. The information they present, in aggregate, benefits everyone: entrepreneurs, VCs, network operators, solution vendors, AND then end consumers. It will make sure the entrepreneurs understand what the telcos want, and how to get that to them. It helps the carriers receive better, more focused pitches. More deals, more business, and more real solutions that matter to end customers. Win, win, win.

Our two keynotes were offered by major USA players, Verizon and T-Mobile. Both speakers addressed the question of “How does your company approach innovation”, and both companies were interesting in how their brand and character emerged through their approach.

Verizon’s Sanyogita Shamsunder, Vice President, Technology Development and 5G Lab, explained to us how Verizon is a leader in network deployments, and how the company views its 5G network as a foundation for future innovations from Verizon itself, and partners alike. 5G offers greater network agility, and interesting business opportunities in areas like automation, robotics, and IoT.

Jason Young, Senior VP Strategic Partnerships at T-Mobile USA, expressed a different way of approaching innovation, from the customer backwards. With this approach, T-Mo tends to engage and listen to the customer to assess customer pain points, wants, and needs. T-Mo then looks for solutions and tech partnerships that can solve those problems.

With both the keynotes expressing their starting point for innovation, that’s not to say that each doesn’t also consider other factors, but the slight differences in prioritization shines an interesting light on subtle differences between ALL the mega-carriers in the world. In many ways they are similar, but for any entrepreneur seeking a deal, you’ve got to become familiar with the other many ways each is unique. Striking a deal is much easier when you know your audience, and have chosen the right targets. TC3 is just one tool to learn those lessons.

Another stalwart at TC3 are our case studies, where several network operators took to the stage, each with an entrepreneur partner with which they are working. We want to show that, while carrier deals are difficult to strike, and take time, real success stories are actually plentiful. Each of our case studies provides an update on the two partner companies, but then plunges into the biz dev process they followed, and the key success factors these startups learned. TC3 would not be a Telecom Council meeting without introductions to disruptive technologies in the form of our high energy rapid-fire pitches. Gratifying for our TC3 regulars, was seeing companies who pitched at TC3 in 2017 returning with POC and deployment case studies in 2019.

While our 1-on-1 meetings provide curated meetings, our Demo area offered a buzzing unstructured way for the 25 exhibiting companies to engage with the various attendees of TC3. This year’s schedule structure allowed the Demo table reps to spend some time in the main auditorium listening to the carrier presentations which can guide them on whom to pitch, and how. Joining TC3 for the first time this year were several of our Innovation Showcase Class of 2019 who pitched onstage, exhibited in the demo area, and participated in the MatchMaker meeting service.

And, of course, no TC3 Summit would be complete without our Annual SPIFFY Awards which honors the best startup presentations we have seen through the prior year!  Congratulations to all the winners.

Via the variety of exhibits at the demo tables, organized lunchtime roundtable discussions, and on-stage presentations and panels, we educated our audience on 5G, Edge, AI, Digital Transformation, Security, Telco Venture, an all-fiber future, to name but a few!  But most importantly, we facilitated the initial introductions between innovators and their potential partners. The agenda is available to all for a peek at what our audience experienced over the 2 days, and, as with all of our meetings, members can access the presentations via our member library.

While, perhaps, we should no longer be surprised by the positive feedback we receive, we continue to be humbled by the magnitude of that feedback!  Recurrently, our delegates compare TC3 Summit favorably with larger, more well-known conferences.  The key isn’t the content. It’s the curation of relationships. So if you’ve not attended in the past, be sure to allocate some of your 2020 biz dev budget to experience TC3 for yourselves.  For those who know us well, you’ll know we thrive on your feedback and suggestions for next year, which you can offer here.

With thanks to our sponsors, speakers, delegates and our host, for making TC3 2019 such a success.  We are already looking ahead to next year’s Meeting, so let us know if you want to get involved, how we can improve, so that we can continue to bring you the best “upside down” conference out there!  For 2020 Sponsorship opportunities, speaker information and priority registration, you can contact us at council@telecomcouncil.com.

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