About a month ago I had a phone call with one of WebSummit’s team after applying for MiFile to attend as one of the start-ups. The call took about 30 minutes and went through the current status of MiFile, where we are in terms of service readiness and what our ‘go to market’ strategy was.
We were delighted to find out a couple of days later that we had been selected as part of the Alpha Start-Up team. This came along with a nice discount on the advertised cost of about €11,000, knocking that down to around €2,000 for four people from our team and exhibition space.
Since then we’ve been highlighting our selection when opening discussions with new potential partners – with good results. People like to work with start-ups, and there is a certain attraction to taking place in a 30,000 attendee event where technology start-ups are at the heart of show.
The attraction of WebSummit
An event that has grown from 450 attendees to over 30,000 in only a few years generates its own type of interest. For many start-ups, there is a very real attraction to an event based around start-ups, that draws big multinationals, global media and investors.
The WebSummit team has also shared some amazing stats about last years event, where the top 40 start-up companies have managed to raise over one billion dollars in funding. It obviously pushed us to think about how much we should be asking for, and what that investment would mean for growing MiFile. I mean, the average across 40 companies would be $25 Million… surely that would be great to have, right?
Now MiFile is already growing nicely – we’re not making as many direct sales as we’d like, but we are talking to some of the world’s largest companies about how we might differentiate or enhance their product offering, or assist as part of a corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme. Any one of these partnerships will make a huge difference for us.
Scaling, money means scalability
So do we ask for investment? How much do we ask for? A bit of Google-research indicates that a $20M investment should yield about $150M for the investor over 5 years, to make the numbers work for them. And talking at that level means you’re talking to venture capitalists (VCs).
We’re currently operating on a shoestring budget and getting good results, what would we even do with a few million dollars?
After working through three or four different financial models, it has become clear that money – for us at least – most clearly translates to increased reach. A slow burn means we focus on the UK, some investment takes us into the US, whilst the $20M gets us across half a dozen significant countries.
But more than money, we need some great partnerships – decision makers within companies that want to make a difference to their customers, employees, supply chain and communities. It isn’t a particularly hard sell either – MiFile is all about helping people, when it matters most. It’s a strong sponsor who sees the potential and can push through their internal red tape that we need.
Our plan for WebSummit
So we have a plan to discuss with investors, but WebSummit – we hope – offers so much more. It gives us a way to raise awareness of our service, talk to potential partners and to test our thinking; with a global audience. Deciding to attend the event was taken a bit quickly, after all every dollar counts at our stage, and extras like hotels, printing, travel, etc do quickly add up. However, we believe that this event has the potential to be the best investment we could make to springboard the company ahead of what purely organic growth allows.
For anyone attending, please do get in touch with us via our contact page on MiFile – we’d love to hear from you.