Introduce the world’s first end-to-end event planning marketplace to new U.S. investors and secure a further commitment for Eventerprise’s $1.1 million late-seed funding round.
That was the remit for my inaugural investor roadshow as CEO of Eventerprise this past May. Fortunately, I had a few powerful aces in my presentation deck.
Direct spending on North American business events has topped $380 billion. This excludes spending on social activities (weddings, anniversaries), recreational activities (concerts, sports events), and public events. Future growth is reflected in an 11% growth forecast for the event planning profession (compared to a 7% average growth rate for all occupations).
The event management software market is predicted to grow at 11.2% CAGR between 2018 and 2026, with the surge in adoption mostly due to its ability to decrease costs, increase productivity, and boost attendance. With budgets and ROI under competitive pressure, event planners need an independent platform where they can compare all those new event apps with the help of transparent reviews.
Online marketplaces, also known as two-sided or multi-vendor platforms, are growing at an astounding 300% per year. Trends include the rise of B2B and services marketplaces as well as an emphasis on mobile-first design and mobile payments. No wonder Andreessen Horowitz partner, Jeff Jordan, waxes so lyrical about the advantages of investing in them.
U.S. angel and seed investment hit a decade high of $7.5 billion in 2018. Deal numbers may be down, but the substantial jump in average deal size shows that there is still plenty of appetite for funding startups with the right team, market-ready tech, and a viable go-to-market plan with huge upside potential.
Since Eventerprise is comfortably positioned at the intersection of all those growth points, my roadshow partner, Eventerprise VP of Growth, Barry Blassoples and I felt confident that we had an attractive message for our audience in the U.S. With 25% of the funding round already in the bag, we could also show unequivocal endorsement from notable U.S. business and event industry leaders.
Roadshow with Keiretsu Forum’s Midwest Chapter
We were very pleased when we were accepted to present at a series of pitch events in Chicago, Ann Arbor, and Cincinnati, organized by the Midwest chapter of the Keiretsu Forum, a global angel investor network with more than 2,500 members. With around 125 active investors, the Midwest chapter executed on 25 deals in 2018, with an average investment of $500,000 per company.
The Keiretsu events gave us a great opportunity to hone our pitch, with insightful Q & A sessions that demonstrated the astuteness of the U.S. investment community. Our admission to the subsequent due diligence round also proved how well prepared we were in our responses to investor queries.
Keiretsu’s due diligence process is widely acknowledged as highly reputable due to the substantial input and guidance it receives from experienced entrepreneurs, investors, and legal experts. A successful due diligence therefore has valuable extended marketability by de-risking our investment case for other investors both within and outside of Keiretsu.
Following up with our global stakeholder network
In San Francisco, we followed up on our own investor outreach and met with several industry networkers and influencers. Some of those engagements secured future commitments and further introductions subject to the attainment of very specific traction metrics. We know exactly which metrics we need to focus on, how to accomplish them, and better still, we know we can achieve them with this raise.
It was once again very clear that Silicon Valley is still the world’s pre-eminent startup investment ecosystem, with fast-growing Chinese hubs like Beijing and Shanghai still playing catch-up. The Bay Area’s inspiring culture of open sharing continues to attract innovators like nowhere else.
I also had the great honor of meeting once again with Dr Rajen Kilachand, one of our lead investors. He closely follows Eventerprise’s development and, as an extremely successful businessman, he is always willing to share his vast knowledge with us. His endorsement carries a lot of gravitas which should motivate existing investors to further secure and grow their stakes in Eventerprise by supporting this funding round.
Takeaways from this roadshow
We amplified and diversified our exposure to investor and event hubs. This generated new interest from potential investors and lots of positive feedback from people in the events and hospitality industries.
It is clear that the U.S. market, especially in cities with a large event footprint like Chicago and San Francisco, recognises the value of a two-sided platform that streamlines the interaction between people or companies that want to put an event together and vendors of event products, services or venues. They understand that Eventerprise brings trust, order and simplicity to an underserved and fragmented industry.
We received great feedback and endorsements, and acknowledgment that our product is market-ready, as opposed to being a mere MVP. An analogy that illustrates this well, is likening the platform to a racing car that is ready to race. It has assembled a talented pit crew (across distributed international hubs) and all that is still necessary is a group of fans (investors) that are ready to fill up the first tank with gas to get the car around the track, a track we know well.
It was evident that the maturity of our team, our domain expertise as represented by co-founder Charlie Wright, and our good understanding of development and marketing technology made an impression on our audiences. Our low burn rate and what has been achieved with limited resources was openly admired.
The business infrastructure, with its distributed organization and incorporation in three jurisdictions (Switzerland, South Africa & the United States) as well as the registration of all trademarks in the U.S. (which protects our intellectual property rights) fostered a high level of trust in our organizational abilities.
We also stood out in terms of diversity, not simply in terms of gender, age or race, but the fact that we are not your archetypal homegrown U.S. team. Our international DNA, which comes from three continents and multiple countries, supports a global footprint that I did not see in any of the other presentations.
A cosmopolitan team with deep cross-border multi-cultural exposure offers huge benefits in terms of team selection and coaching, but also represents a better understanding of the global market within which the platform operates. This is yet another indicator of Eventerprise’s growth potential and also correlates to the multiples that investors can expect. Why limit yourself to the confines of the U.S. if your target market can be global?
We now need to fuel our tank with the required funding to reach the defined traction points and revenue. A senior VC assured us that once we achieve the traction we projected in month three of our roll-out plan, he sees a very clear path to Series A. He is not only prepared to invest directly in his private capacity, but will make the necessary introductions to firms that can lead a Series A round. This endorsement was echoed on multiple occasions.
What’s in it for you?
The current funding round still has $825,000 open and consists of convertible loan notes which carry 6% interest and offer a 20% discount and a conversion valuation cap of $10 million. These two provisions provide note investors significant protection and upside potential at the time of conversion at the A-round.
Funds raised will be used to support our go-to-market launch in the greater Los Angeles area. Our highly-defensible market activation strategy, which centers around generating demand for quote requests as a source of leads for subscribed vendors, has received an enthusiastic thumbs up from business analysts with marketplace experience.
There is significant first-mover advantage in being the only multi-vendor marketplace that meets B2B as well as B2C needs for event services and products across all verticals and locations. With a market-ready platform, a detailed roll-out plan, and potential for a 10-15-fold return over five years (based on comparable investments), Eventerprise offers a very compelling investment opportunity. Over to you.
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