In the second part of this series, GirlCrew chats to entrepreneurs who talk through their experience of getting the Competitive Start Fund from Enterprise Ireland.
Last week, Diane sat down with Glissed to talk through getting the Competitive Start Fund (CSF), this week we’re speaking with Connect the Dots. Described as event architects, Naomi Murphy and Marisa Denker have created a data-driven events company. Using gathered information and insights, they co-curate and create events that are designed to leave a lasting impression. This has led to some very impressive partnerships including the WEcan series with Accenture, and more recently a takeover at Body & Soul.
They are also recent recipients of CSF, so Diane sat down with co-founder, Marisa, to find out more about how they secured this funding.
Do you want to share with us what your business is?
Sure, so we are Marisa Denker and Naomi Murphy and we’re co-founders of Connect the Dots.
Our aim is to help companies design events based on attendee insights. This avoids any guesswork, and to successfully match content with attendees’ expectations. We engage a company’s target audience, consult them on their likes, preferences, ideal outcomes for the event; and then leverage these insights to suggest an event agenda that matches what they’re looking for. Currently we’re creating a SaaS data analytics tool to automate our proprietary process. In addition to meeting companies’ event needs, we will be able to aggregate data to build predictive analytics.
When did you get CSF from Enterprise Ireland and have you any tips around the application process?
We were informed this summer we were successful with our application for CSF and are delighted. One tip we received from a pitch coach on New Frontiers that we would like to pass on is: “think of each question asked as a story – with a grab, a few key points, and a close.”
How has getting the Competitive Start Fund helped your business?
We are in the process of planning how to best ultilise the funding. As part of CSF we will be assigned a mentor and take part on Dublin BIC’s Innovate Programme. We think it’ll really give us the guidance to propel us forward, fast.
How did your business idea come about?
Connect the Dots is a story of being pulled by the market. It started with us noticing a problem – a disconnect.
We went to lots of conferences, networking events, and talks, but too often left feeling disappointed. The events seemed out of touch with what people actually wanted to hear and talk about. We also found the environment quite uncomfortable and stiff, rather than facilitative or conducive to conversation. Ultimately, we felt that these conventional events weren’t meeting their potential. We wanted to see an event that would really squeeze the most out of the short amount of time that everyone is together for.
Soon after we started testing the business model and found clients. We moved very quickly then to commercialising the business. We have been carrying out a lot of processes manually over the past year and half of business. Now see how we can accelerate and really scale operations by automating processes around the gathering of data, while capturing valuable insights on event goers.
Who mostly uses your service?
We work with anyone from CEOs, to senior marketing and communication execs to event managers of companies across all sectors.
There is a large market for user-driven event design, with multiple verticals across industry – especially events around recruitment, public consultations and sales.
An example of how we worked effectively on a recruitment project was with Accenture. We helped the Global Management Consultancy reimagine a recruitment event for females. It was a huge success connecting the right people with the right event. Accenture’s feedback [noted] that gaining insights into the attendees beforehand, and what they wanted out of the event made a huge difference. It was an event unlike any other we have done.
What are your biggest highs to date?
- Seeing the impact of our style of designing events via our people-first methodology
- Taking the jump to working on the business full time
- Being Finalists in Accenture’s Leaders of Tomorrow
- Being finalists in Google’s Adopt a Startup Programme
- Getting Competitive Start Fund with Enterprise Ireland
Any tips to GirlCrewers thinking of starting a business?
What we do with our events applies to your businesses too. Talk – and most importantly – listen – to your potential customers. Test out your idea on them as soon as you can – and then iterate and iterate until your ‘product’ is something that perfectly matches what they’re looking for.
Do you have an ask of GirlCrewers reading this?
We are expanding the team and on the lookout for a great Developer at the minute. If you know of any, tell them to get in touch on Hello@connectthedots.ie.
Thanks to Marisa for taking the time to share their thoughts on getting the Competitive Start Fund with us. It’s great to get such insights from those who have gone through the process. If you’d like to link in with other entrepreneurs check out the GirlCrew app. We’ve a group set up specifically for those building their business so it’s the perfect resource.
When it comes to funding, what are your top tips for this process? If you’ve any other insights on CSF, or gaining funding let us know in the comments.