SA’s Eventerprise raises $400k, plans expansion to UAE, Europe

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Cape Town-based startup Eventerprise, an online portal that allows event hosts to source, review and contact event suppliers, has raised US$400,000 on the back of attending the Web Summit event in Dublin, and is now planning expansion to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the United Kingdom (UK) and Germany next year.

Disrupt Africa reported last month Eventerprise was travelling to take part in the annual Web Summit event, having spent the last two years honing its product in Cape Town.

The startup claims to provide event hosts with significantly better events with less stress, and suppliers with access to new clients, through its dating service-style portal. Having used South Africa as a test-case, and reached over 7,000 registered suppliers and testimonials, the startup is now planning on taking its idea global after raising funding.

Co-founders Götz Thümecke and Charlie Wright told Disrupt Africa Eventerprise has closed a US$400,000 round from local and international investors, and is looking to raise US$2 million in total.

A lot of work went into making the most of Web Summit, with a team on the ground networking and feeding leads back to a team in Cape Town that followed up electronically and ran a social media campaign.

“We could see a few people were quite overwhelmed in this environment, with over 40,000 participants, 2,000 companies presenting. It is a very down to earth approach,” Thümecke said.

Wright said the whole process was about getting as much exposure as possible for Eventerprise after a long period of developing its product and studying the market.

“We have immersed ourselves into how we catapult ourselves into the market. It’s not only about the product, it is about how we capitalise and profile ourselves,” he said.

“It was a culmination of hard work. The results from Dublin were a trigger to the investors that were waiting on the sidelines.”

The co-founders said Eventerprise’s product was designed to cover a market that is not being covered adequately currently, with the startup having plans to expand to other the UAE, UK and Germany in the first half of next year.

“We’ve developed this in Africa. We are able to prove a lot of elements to the business plan that can catapult it internationally. There’s lots we can do from Africa to take on the world,” Wright said.

And the opportunity is bigger than many people believe, they said.

“There’s a lot of data that isn’t available to the industry. The events industry has been estimated at US$565 billion, but that is purely on documented figures that come from the corporate world. There are no documented figures for the domestic or private market,” he said.

South Africa has been used primarily as a test market for product the co-founders believe has potential to go truly global, and Wright said it had been the right choice.

“It is large enough, it is small enough, it is mature enough, and it is creative enough to be indicative of any events market in the world. It has enabled us to fly under the radar and conduct a huge amount of research on an industry in its full view without exposing ourselves,” he said.

Eventerprise likes to promote the fact that it is not a directory.

We are a hybrid between a web presence and a social media presence. We are an impartial, transparent medium to connect the market,” Wright said.

The event industry, he said, was something of a “wild west”.

“The event industry has no barriers to entry, and no governance. We’re not the police, but we’re out there to install some kind of professionalism,” Wright said.

“We’re going to shake it up a bit, and bring those that are worthy of work to people’s attention. The people that have been in the industry a little bit longer are going to be the ones that are slower out of the blocks.”

Thümecke said Eventerprise was “obsessed” with adding value to those that it is serving.

“It has got huge impact, and when it gets seen as this value maker in the industry, it has got real meaning,” he said.

“We believe that after these rollouts we may be able to do parallel launches, when we have mastered this aspect of local adjustment.”

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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