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5 UK firms innovating in the events sector

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Increasingly, we live in a world where every company is a tech company. Tech is infiltrating all sectors and event planning and management is no exception. As event marketplace giant EventBrite puts it “tech has the potential to transport audience engagement at your event”.

From using virtual reality to food-delivering robots, this has certainly been the case for some companies using technology to host or sponsor events. Take Barclays’ use of the bPay wristband for guests to pay with at Wireless Festival in 2014 as just one example. This was used to trial what is now one of their most innovative consumer products.

The rapidly changing and crowded EventTech space, however, has led to high levels of instability and competition, causing some tech firms to fall as quickly as they rose. We take a look at the UK’s EventTech scene and assess major investments, innovations, disruptions and developments.

5 UK tech firms disrupting the insurance sector

Viagogo

Foundation: Erik Baker, London, 2005

Total investment: $65m in six rounds, 17 investors

Latest investment round: $15m, Series D, 2009

Major investors: Andre Agassi, Steffi Graf, Index Ventures

Viagogo claims to be the largest online ticket marketplace for live events. Founded by Erik Baker, the co-founder of US-based StubHub, it now has websites in 60 countries around the globe. The platform was designed to make previously hard to obtain tickets more accessible for the customer. Viagogo has helped ease the problem of wasted seats by enabling people to sell their spare event tickets. Famously, it partnered with Chelsea and Manchester FC and offered season ticket holders the chance to offload tickets to matches they could no longer attend. Viagogo now partners with the biggest names in sport and entertainment globally.

YPlan

Foundation: Viktorias Jucikas, Rytis Vitkauskas, London, 2012

Total investment: $37.7m in three rounds, 16 investors

Acquired: Time Out Group, October 2016

Major investors: General Catalyst, Octopus Ventures, Wellington Partners

YPlan started strong when it launched, offering users of its app last-minute tickets for sold-out events in major cities around the world. It was downloaded 1.5 million times globally at its peak and attracted $37m worth of investment. Heavy investments in app updates and marketing saw it at a $6.2m loss in 2015 and was eventually sold for only $1.6m to Time Out in 2016.

Hire Space

Foundation: Ed Poland, Will Swannell, London, 2012

Total investment: $3.47m in three rounds, 10 investors

Latest investment round: $708,100 equity crowdfunding, June 2016

Major investors: Crowdfunding, Karen Hanton

An AirBnB of the event world, HireSpace matches people with venues and commercial spaces for their events, from weddings and conferences to office parties. Major venues include Twickenham Stadium and the Tower of London. Growing rapidly, HireSpace seems to be pioneering a disruptive business model for venue hire.

StreetTeam Software

Foundation: Callum and Liam Negus-Fancey, London, 2012

Total investment: $10m in one round, Series A, six investors, 2016

Latest investment round: $10m in one round, Series A, six investors, 2016

Major investors: Kindred, Backed VC, Frontline Venture

StreetTeam Software provides peer-to-peer sales and marketing software for live entertainment. It uses influential fans to promote and sell event tickets to their friends. Currently, it has almost 55,000 ambassadors across the globe. StreetTeam’s partners mostly include music festivals, from Bestival to LoveBox. Its software harnesses millennials’ strong presence on social media and commercialises the word-of-mouth recommendation.

Revl

Foundation: Jennifer Roebuck and Brandon Stephens, London, 2015

Total investment: $2.3m Seed Round, January 2017

Latest investment round: $2.3m Seed Round, January 2017

After fears for the death of the events discovery and booking platform following the demise of YPlan, Revl offers hope for the startup EventTech world. Founded by husband and wife Jennifer and Brandon, Revl allows customers to discover smaller, less-known events while giving over 600 UK brand partners the opportunity to market themselves on the platform. With a focus on more cultural and family-orientated events, its partners include the Natural History Museum and the V&A.

Know of any other tech startups innovating in the EventTech space? Let us know in the comments below.

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