Microsoft helps event startup maximise efficiency

“We were looking for cloud-based technology to help us scale our innovative platform. We pitched our idea to the Microsoft Catalyst team and they saw the potential so from there we’ve managed to establish a long-term technical relationship for the business.” – Toby Heelis, CEO, Eventopedia

Eventopedia is a cloud-based online platform for the meetings and events industry. Using their new innovative solution, organisations can search for venues much more efficiently than was traditionally possible.

Its software solves two key problems in the hospitality industry:

  • Demand generation for hotels and venues, helping them find new business and connect more easily with relevant customers
  • A new independent & democratic tool for event planners looking for a suitable venue or supplier Midway through 2016, Eventopedia approached Microsoft about working in partnership to build a cutting edge and robust cloud platform ready for scale.

Achieving efficiency

‘We’ve been working on this start-up company for three years and we’ve been live to the market for just over two years,’ says Toby Heelis. ‘We wanted to be more agile, and make the solution more responsive so we started looking for an enterprise-ready platform that we could develop long term, harnessing the benefits of the cloud. Our technical team had an existing relationship with Microsoft, so we looked at their Azure platform, and innovations such as Azure Functions as a potential solution.’

For a small and fast-growing business, the Microsoft Azure platform is much more efficient and agile to build on and develop with. You can take out and add in new modules without affecting the site as a whole. This means it’s much easier to make incremental changes with less risk.

‘There were a host of Microsoft products that Eventopedia could innovate and move forward with,’ says Alan Newton, COO at Eventopedia, ‘more than a handful of Microsoft applications & products are perfectly aligned with helping resolve decades-old issues across our industry. We’re already working with the beta versions and we are very excited with the early results. The ability for us to create solutions that drive even greater efficiencies for our customers is an integral part of our ideology.’

Accelerated progress with BizSpark+

‘We were introduced to the Microsoft Developer Experience (DX) team and we pitched our long-term vision for the company, which was to be a disrupter in the industry for improved efficiency,’ says Toby Heelis. ‘They really liked the whole concept, where we were going with it and the potential for a modern architecture, such as Microsoft Azure Functions, to be involved.

The BizSpark program is aimed at small businesses with big ambitions and eligible companies receive funding and access to Microsoft’s suite of software and expertise to realise their vision. Eventopedia had a clearly-defined strategic business plan and technical product roadmap that they refined and evolved during the engagement process, clearly identifying the synergies across the Microsoft product ecosystem and how they can integrate to create powerful industry-wide solutions.

‘By working with the Microsoft DX team we’ve accelerated our timeline by at least 50 percent,’ says Toby Heelis. ‘We had regular contact with the Microsoft Engineers in the UK and Redmond so our support queries or technical questions and issues were fast-tracked.’ The BizSpark program also gave Eventopedia a clear communication channel with a business development manager. This enabled Eventopedia to find the right people to talk to within Microsoft and make full use of the technology with continuous support.

Synergetic value

Eventopedia chose Microsoft because they were looking for a partnership and technical innovation. There was a great synergy between both companies that promised real long-term value throughout the relationship.

When Eventopedia started working with Microsoft there was a two-way flow of information. Azure Functions was still in beta when they began development and Eventopedia helped Microsoft engineers redefine certain features.

‘It’s been a real partnership,’ says Alan Newton. ‘Both the Microsoft team and our dev team were working together and learning from one another.

Onwards and upwards

‘We have big plans for the future,’ says Toby Heelis. ‘We’ll be developing the procurement and vendor-finding platform and expanding into the global market. Right now, it’s just a question of resources but we’ve found a long-term partner in Microsoft and that is the kind of foundation we need.

Take the next step with Microsoft

At Microsoft, we work with startups of all shapes and sizes. The joint business opportunity depends on how we can support individual startups. To find out if you are eligible, contact the team on startout@microsoft.com

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