How did the Summit go for you?
Very well! Met a lot of interesting people, had a huge number of requests to partner and met potential distributors for Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Germany, South Africa, Indonesia, Singapore and the US. We also (somewhat surprisingly, given the number of startups chasing them) met several interested potential investors and are continuing discussions with them.
Did it match your expectations?
We were there last year (with Buzzoek), and found this year more productive for us – primarily it was due to our product change / ‘pivot’ I think, as CashOrCard was relevant to a wider range of people at the summit and isn’t in as crowded a space [loyalty] as Buzzoek. Some elements didn’t quite live up to expectations (the Food Summit this year wasn’t as spectacular as last year, and we all know about the WiFi issues – but this actually let us demonstrate one of our unique features so was sort of a bonus for us) but overall it matched and exceeded expectations.
If you were to do it differently what would you have done?
Personally, I’d have attended more of the talks – I spent so much time meeting with startups and others exhibiting there over the first 2 days that I missed out on most of the speakers on Centre Stage. Ironically, day 3 when we were exhibiting was the day when I saw most talks as they were broadcast on the big screen in the middle of the startup area! From a company perspective, I’d do most things the same – we went very far in the PITCH competition, our exhibition stand was busy for the entire day, and we had a well-prepared intro for each visitor. If we were doing it again, I’d make sure that our POS was in use at a concession/location in use for the 3 days so we could direct people there to see it in full live use.
What did people think of your product?
People really ‘got’ it straight away and really liked it – from hotel & bar owners to window cleaners, we had a wide range of goods and service providers who could see a use for it in their business. As SumUp is becoming more popular in Ireland (and similar services in other countries) retailers are becoming very familiar with ePOS and mPOS… given that we have created a ‘hub’ for retailers to bring together payment services, multi-channel retail, etc. what we’re doing really resonated and we took a lot of positive feedback away.
Did you get any useful feedback from people here?
Yes – several new features we hadn’t thought of were suggested/requested by both potential customers and potential partners. A lot of the feedback was also around ways to enter other markets (SE Asian markets for example) and learnings of other startups/companies in those markets. We’re following up with those we spoke to at the summit and adding the feedback suggestions to our product roadmap.
Will you be changing or pivoting your project based on what happened at the Summit?
After last year’s summit, we did pivot the company from loyalty to full POS… it was nice to hear during the PITCH competition that one of the judges really appreciated the fact we had pivoted based on feedback from last year. We will definitely be extending the product based on what we learned and heard at the summit.
What’s it like being an Irish person starting a startup in Holland? Easier / different? Why Holland?
“Why Holland” is very easy – my wife is Dutch! We met in Singapore, moved to Paris and London, then work took her back to the Netherlands. Holland is very open to ex-pats and getting a startup off the ground is very easy here, whether Dutch or not. It’s certainly different – Dutch customers and companies tend to take a long time to make a decision (lots of inputs, lots of decision-time) but once a decision is taken then it’s 100% taken… everyone is on board with it and it’s going through. There are also a lot of grants and assistance that startups can benefit from (wage tax reductions, innovation credits, income tax breaks) so it’s company-friendly in that respect. I know that Enterprise Ireland is doing a lot to bring companies to Ireland and it’s very positive to see many of the same measures are present in Ireland. The one thing in the Netherlands I do really notice is that the long decision-time also exists among investors (even informal investors) so getting access to startup capital is pretty difficult at the critical stages when a startup is trying to move very quickly.
How was it to be back in Dublin?
Great to be back – it’s my home city, but I left in January 2005 and have only been back for social visits rather than business over the past decade. It’s changed a lot (the city) but some of the same old places still exist… although somewhat concerning when people from overseas are telling you what bar/pub they’ll be in that evening and you’ve never heard of it (or worse, you only know what it was called 15 years ago!).
Which had more use for you the day summit or the night one? Why?
It’s a tough question actually – the Day Summit certainly won on volume of potential customers/partners/investors passing by… but the Night Summit gave quite a few opportunities for getting to know people in a more social & less hurried setting and to have more in-depth conversations. We were at Night Summit events hosted by Google, Braintree, Jameson, Twitter, etc, and met with some fantastic people there.