While technology for events is all about enabling a richer experience, it’s the startup companies who have been responsible for some of the most innovative developments in our sector’s technology. To help you make your events that little bit better, EN speaks to six event tech startups about the benefits and challenges they face in the events industry.
Speed is of the essence in tech startups. It’s a constant, plate spinning of priorities to ensure none of the various aspects of the business get dropped. It’s all too easy to get heavily focused on delivering a great product, without maintaining a close eye on cashflow, sales and raising investment.
Passion, optimism and unerring belief in your vision are key characteristics of successful startups, however this can lead to a blinkered mentality, which has to be tempered with reality and the willingness to adapt and pivot as required in order to maximise the potential of the business.
— Stephanie Scott, CMO
Starting up a tech firm - there are so many challenges facing every new company, but one of the biggest ones is market saturation. Because it’s so easy to create a tech startup if you have an idea and the ability to code a bit, there are very few barriers to entry. This means that your startup will be competing with hundreds or thousands of others operating in the same space, and you need to work out what makes you more special than them. Filling in the gaps in your skill set can also be a challenge, and being unable to form a well-rounded founding team has definitely been a big reason that many startups have been unable to get off the ground.
It’s definitely a good idea to thoroughly assess the viability of your idea before spending a tonne of time and effort building it. Hack together whatever you can, whether it’s a prototype or something with a bit more functionality, and test this with real people. They’ll very quickly let you know if you’re on the right track or not, and you can use this feedback to create something better. Make sure you’re strict with yourself about iterating and testing on a regular basis using real people.
— Ria Blagburn, Co-founder
Every day from the very first one of the startup is a challenge, because you have to take care of everything. Finding an idea with high potential, finding the right people to build it with you, finding your early adopters. But probably the biggest challenge is growth. A startup has to grow, to grow fast.
Advice for other startups? Two things. Find a real problem someone is having. And then focus on it by starting simple. You need to be better than the others, and you can’t be the best if you don’t focus.
— Mauricio Palacio, CEO
Follow the lean startup approach. Put together an MVP (minimum viable product), test your assumptions on a small market segment, review and adapt your MVP, go to the next iteration and don’t be afraid to pivot to another
direction if necessary.
And most important, dream big! Don’t limit yourself to a small market just because you feel comfortable in it. Go to where the clients are.
The most difficult challenge for sure is to get a company off the ground.
One is tempted to develop a perfect software solution, but at the end technology is worth nothing if nobody on the field is using it. Therefore the biggest challenge is to keep focused on what really matters and that’s definitely having clients. Besides that the financing is always a big challenge. Either you go for venture capital, as we did and do, or you try to generate revenues
right from the beginning, which often contradicts with
building up a solid traction, which is needed to grow fast
on an international scale.
— Peter Pöhle, CEO and co-founder
Patience may be the single biggest challenge. Developing tech that will deliver value takes time and money, and you can’t expect to see a return on that investment immediately.
Product adoption takes time and income from your early adopting customers should be used by the business for investment into product improvement. It’s important to have patience in terms of generating sufficient income and user/client adoption.
Test the market and listen...really listen.
When you watch programmes like Dragons Den, you should understand that passion and a good idea - while important - are not enough; the idea has to be commercially viable. Many good ideas have limited commercial opportunity.
— Alan Newton, Founder and COO
Start building and pushing your product out there before it’s ready. You’ll learn as you go and for a lot of tech, it’s a race to capture the market before the competition evolves.
So focus on the product, involved your customers from the start and get out there. Building the tech takes time and money. Events are far more complex than it would initially appear and developing a website that keeps the experience simple for the user needs very good design.
— David Hellard, Director of marketing and co-founder.
This article was first published in the January issue of EN. Any comments? Email Annie Byrne