How the Luxembourg-based event sponsorship startup changed its business model by offering companies and brands an end-to-end, modular and hybrid customer relationship solution.
In 2014, Boothted launched Sponsormyevent.com, a marketplace dedicated to event sponsorship. The app connected organizers of concerts, trade shows and conferences with companies interested in sponsoring these events.
Better known in the United States than in Europe, the company claimed in 2020 to have more than 100,000 users, organizers and sponsors combined.
They are doing so well that co-founder and CEO Peter Poehle says that “SponsorMyEvent is to the event industry what booking.com is to the hotel business”.
In March 2020, the pandemic put a stop to face-to-face events which are replaced by virtual and hybrid concepts.
In June 2020, the Luxembourg startup seized the opportunity and created Boothted: a platform for webinars, virtual and hybrid events, and meetings.
Initially conceived as a solution to offer virtual sponsoring booths, Boothted adapted its platform into a virtual marketing solution which accompanies companies and brands in their customer relationship process: from the first contact to the retention of the prospect.
Peter Poehle, looks back on the origin of this pivot.
“Our goal is not to be a startup that doesn’t generate any revenue for years; we are already generating revenue, but we clearly want to grow.”
How did the idea of pivoting come about?
It came over time: like every startup, you embark on a certain adventure, and along the way you get feedback and expectations from your customers.
You say to yourself that you could do something else; you start to pivot slightly; you react to the needs and expectations of the market and the customer; then at a certain point, you realize that your solution can be perfectly reused for other occasions and for other customer needs.
For several years now, we had been looking to position ourselves beyond the virtual or hybrid event industry, which already had many players.
The pandemic was the trigger that allowed us to realize our vision of a disruptive solution, which was ultimately the logical continuation of our initial idea.
How long did it take you to make this pivot? How did you finance it?
We defined the concept in July 2020. During the year of development, we were lucky to have clients such as FEDIL, ATOZ, the Luxembourg Government, but also the Scottish Government, who paid us for the services we were launching as we went along.
We were thus able to finance ourselves in bootstrapping mode. Currently, we are considering raising funds to grow
We are thinking about a small round of financing of 100.000-250.000€, which will allow us to realize the next step. We are also thinking of a more substantial round of 2 to 3 million in 2022.
How do you plan to use these funds?
We want to expand internationally, more specifically in England and North America. This fundraising will clearly be used to acquire new customers in these markets.
We also want to hire sales people, business and IT developers, and grow from the current 3 people to 7 or 8 employees in the medium term.
Will this all be done from Luxembourg or from a commercial headquarters or office abroad?
We are considering a commercial base in the UK and then in the US. Our business requires direct contact with key accounts, and therefore a local presence.
We also plan to open an office in London, then possibly in New York, within the next six months.
“We continue to develop our event solutions, based on our hybrid conference platform, which is used by private and institutional clients in Luxembourg and Europe.”
How do you see the future?
Our concept is unique on the market; it corresponds perfectly to the expectations and demands of our customers. Our goal is to develop in these countries, to generate a solid customer base and a stable income, two things that are very important to us.
Our goal is not to be a startup that doesn’t generate any revenue for years; we are already generating revenue, but we clearly want to grow.
Another thing we care about is continuing to refine the simplicity of our product. Boothted needs to remain an extremely simple yet very powerful solution; but that takes resources and a lot of effort.
We take our cue from Apple, which has always managed to build very powerful and easy-to-use solutions.
What are your current projects?
We have launched a document sharing solution during a hybrid event, which allows the moderator to control and present slides, without screen sharing. These are all small details, but they differentiate us from others.
Finally, we continue to develop our event solutions, based on our hybrid conference platform, which is used by private and institutional clients in Luxembourg and Europe.
To reflect the growth of hybrid events, we have added to Boothted the ability to use multiple smartphone cameras, to create an easy professional setup for events whose budget does not allow for a professional camera crew.