The founders of Eventifier, an online archival platform for events, conceptualised the product in a day and built it in 50 hours. Today, with early stage seed funding from Kae Capital and customers that include the Clinton Foundation and NASA, the company is working towards identifying a business model that is scalable
S. PREM KUMAR
Three youngsters, Jazeel Ferry, Nazim Zeeshan and Mohammed Saud, travelled from Mangalore to Chennai in October 2012, to participate in an idea-to-prototype event called In50hrs. The weekend event, run by Chennai-based Vijay Anand of The Startup Centre, invited software developers and designers to come together to build a product (prototype) within 50 hours. The idea behind In50hrs in itself is very interesting, but, I am going to save that story for another day.
This story is about how these three young engineers got together to build a web product, pushed themselves to do sales, clinched paying customers and raised a seed round of funding and, how several good souls from the Indian startup ecosystem catalysed their entrepreneurial ambition.
How it all started?
Ferry, Zeeshan and Saud lived in Mangalore, Karnataka and were engineers by education and freelance web-designers by profession. The moment they heard about In50hrs, they decided to sign up and landed in Chennai. The initial idea they wanted to pursue was an SMS alert system to track stock price movements. Since the jury at the event wasn’t kicked about the idea, the trio, without wasting anytime, switched to another idea.
Thus was born Eventifier, in late 2012, with a focus on solving a problem for event organisers. The trio believed that event managers wouldn’t mind paying for an archive page of sorts, where all social media coverage (photos, tweets, slideshows and Facebook status messages) with the event’s hash tag could be collated. The idea was that, events are forgotten for almost a year till the next edition comes up, so it would be a good idea to maintain an online archive of the happenings from the prior year. Given that organisers already spend a reasonable amount of money in organising an event, it only made sense to maintain a formal web record of the happenings.
The incubation phase
Going from idea-to-prototype in a weekend was a good first step. However, the founders realised that they had to go a long way and they knew very few people in their own ecosystem who could help them through this journey. Thus, Vijay invited them to join The Startup Centre’s Resident Program. The trio obliged and moved to Chennai. They met with select mentors of The Startup Centre to help them with their go-to-market effort. One of them, Sharad Sharma, the former CEO of Yahoo India and an angel investor-startup mentor, continues to advice them.
In the initial stage, the trio started experimenting with various minimally viable product features and worked with select event organisers to iron out features to be included in its products. Essentially, the entrepreneurs, with the help of their anchor customers, were working to get the product-market fit right.
Going from idea-to-prototype in a weekend was a good first step. However, the founders realised that they had to go a long way and they knew very few people in their own ecosystem who could help them through this journey.
While they were still in the Resident program, Eventifier clinched its first customer, an event organiser in the Philippines. Slowly but surely, the trio clinched several other customers including the Clinton Foundation and NASA.
Raising seed capital
Earlier this year, Eventifier raised seed capital from Kae Capital and since then, they have graduated from The Startup Centre and moved to Bengaluru to build a team. Currently, the company offers three variants of its product – a basic version for US $49 per event, a premium offering for US $199 per event and another custom version with additional features, including white labeling of the platform without Eventifier’s branding, is available.
The company has seen tremendous traction in terms of usage by event organisers. In the month of August alone, over 40 conference organisers have used the paid version of Eventifier and the company has seen the adoption of its platform in events across the United States, Europe, Australia and India.
Over time, the company is looking to build relationships with large event management companies, ones that organise over 1000 events in a year, and offer them a variety of products relevant to organising and driving traffic into events. Additionally, the company is working towards building its product roadmap and potential channel partnerships to bring in greater volumes.
This journey of the entrepreneurial trio is certainly not an isolated case of fresh college graduates turning entrepreneurs. From mentor access and expert advice to the availability of media platforms to showcase a startups’ initial product, we certainly have a bustling ecosystem; while it may not compare to ecosystems in the US, the various developments that we’re witnessing are commendable and wonderful to track.
If not anything else, India is now ready to encourage entrepreneurs to start executing on their ideas. There is enough access to capital too, at least to put a product into the market. What remains is for the entrepreneur to take this early success to the next level.