By Helal Ismail 

This article aims to help young entrepreneurs working on innovative, promising and scalable ideas in The MENA region find their way to present their companies at The World Economic Forum (WEF), Davos.

If you are an entrepreneur who runs a solid business with a potential, vision and plan to scale up into global market; If you are confident you can convince an investor to invest 5 million USD in your business and you know what the acronym “ROI” stands for then this article is for you.

The Crowd

Late January of every year thousands of the richest, most influencing and most powerful people in the world prepare a pilgrimage to Davos for The World Economic Forum’s annual meeting.

The attendance consists of about 2,500 participants that mostly includes business executives, hundreds of public figures and about 40 heads of states, while thousands more find their way to the Swiss mountain village aiming to network, find potential investors and close deals.

Who Can Attend ?

To be at “Davos” doesn’t mean you will be in the same place as Donald Trump or Shah Rukh Khan, that would be cool though. Besides world leaders, politicians and public figures, The World Economic Forum consists of many groups — called communities — each community has members with mutual interests such as civil society, technology pioneers, global shapers, young global leaders and many others. Candidates can be nominated to join a specific community through The World Economic Forum website.

As an Entrepreneur running a relatively new established business probably you will not be able to attend as an official delegate unless you receive an invitation from The WEF or one of its communities. However, you can still be at “Davos” but you will not have access to The Congress Centre.

Actually most of the really interesting meetings happen outside The Congress Centre. Some of those meetings take place at the numerous hotels in town with both official WEF participants and other business executives, investors, influencers and entrepreneurs. Venues like Steigenberger Belvédère, Hotel Europe, Tradeshift Sanctuary, Ukraine House and many other venues host a series of interesting sessions that run simultaneously during the week daily between 7 AM to past 3 AM.

Access to Sessions

Davos works with a system of badges that determines the badge holder’s access to sessions, meetings and even parties. For events taking place outside The Congress Centre, you will need what’s called a “Hotel Badge” to get you past the security at the hotels. You can get your hotel badge from the hotel you will be staying at or from the landlord if you are renting or sharing an apartment. There are certain sessions that don’t require a hotel badge, but you will be reducing your chances of networking.

Accommodation and Transportation

Although the event takes place in late January, you will have to start looking for accommodation from late September or early October. Forget about booking.com and Airbnb. To get a good budget deal inside or near Davos, you will have to join any of Davos landlords’ private “Telegram” group. It is similar to renting a weekend chalet from a local broker.

Transportation is easy from Zurich to Davos. However, you may need to make friends before you travel to share rides and split fees.

Fly In Style

Now that you have secured your hotel badge, accommodation and transportation plans, one of the most important things you still need to do is to wisely pick your flight.

If you believe you will be the only one going to Davos if you book a direct flight from your nearest airport to Zurich, then don’t fly directly to Zurich. Instead book a flight with a layover in a destination that allows you to start your networking journey from the flight itself.

Don’t go for cheap airliners — at least in your connection to Zurich — instead pick a first or business class seat and make sure that you dress to be seen. During WEF, business class cabins in flights to Zurich are like flying cocktail parties.

Finally, if you have room for some luxury in your budget you may consider the private jet option. It might be really expensive though, but if you are a good hunter and you know what the expression “empty leg” means then you may have a chance to find a good deal on an agent website like Victor or Private Fly.

The Experience

Everyone who comes to Davos leaves at the end of the week with a different experience. Regardless of the many events that you may have attended throughout your career, Davos is an extra-ordinary experience bringing all those people together in one annual business pilgrimage.

See you in January 2019.