A Recap of the First Annual Entrepreneur 20X

0615H15E2XBlogHFTP has been extra busy working on a myriad of new projects and events and I am proud to say that one of our most recent ones — Entrepreneur 20X — was a huge success! After months of coordination, endless e-mails, phone calls and meetings, Entrepreneur 20X officially held its inaugural event on Monday, June 15, as part of HITEC 2015.

We had been wanting to try an event like this for some time and were able to put our plans into action this year with the help of Capital Factory, an Austin-based entrepreneurial center of gravity, and Hospitality Upgrade and Somers Communications who held a start-up competition earlier in the year at the Travel & Technology Conference in San Francisco. With our forces combined, we were able to put together an amazing event that ignited new passions within the hospitality technology space and left the crowds wanting more. In fact, much of the viewing space for the competition was left to standing room only, spilling out of the door because attendees were so eager to see what Entrepreneur 20X had to offer.

For those of you that are not familiar with Entrepreneur 20X, the concept is quite simple. A start-up with a product or service geared towards the hospitality technology industry pitches their offering in front of a panel of expert judges with backgrounds in hospitality, technology and entrepreneurship. These judges were then able to ask questions of the participants and decide who would go home with the top prize and be recognized as the technology most disruptive and game changing to the industry.

The judges crowned the California-based company, Whistle, as the winners of the first Entrepreneur 20X. Whistle pitched a service that aggregates customer communications into minimalistic web and mobile admin panels and allows businesses to respond or triage incoming messages via a real-time chat interface to and from the customer’s preferred app. In terms of the hospitality industry, Whistle has a revolutionary offer. Whistle allows guests to directly communicate with the staff and vice-versa insuring higher guest satisfaction, a more personalized experience as well as an improvement in the property’s ratings and reviews.

Whistle, along with the other Entrepreneur 20X participants and pitch companies from the Travel and Technology Conference, gathered on the HITEC 2015 exhibit hall floor to display their products in a kiosk pavilion for all HITEC attendees to experience. Below is a list of each of the remaining participants that Entrepreneur 20X and the kiosk pavilion were privileged to experience.

Capton: A beverage tracking solution comprised of a set of wireless pour spouts linked to powerful cloud-based software that analyzes liquor usage and provides meaningful business intelligence.

ClearBlade: Provides backend platform for a business to power their apps. They give you all the messaging, data and code services you need in once secure, scalable platform.

Groupize: Simplifies the entire process of booking group hotel rooms for organizers of weddings, vacations, team travel, social events and more. Features real time availability and room inventory, instant booking directly with the hotel, ability to request event and meeting space and allows users to invite guests to join the group.

GuestCentric: An all-in-one hotel digital marketing tool. Features website design, a hotel booking engine optimized for multiple devices and automatic social presence.

HotelRSV: Provides a reservation engine for your hotel brand sites: website, mobile site, TripAdvisor page and Facebook page so guests can book directly from you. Automates sales and revenue management, distributes in all self-managed channels, ability to add packages and sell extras like tour and transport.

Kaptivating Hospitality: Reverses traditional search to pinpoint consumers with an intent to purchase and proactively drives bookings. The interface made for hoteliers cuts marketing costs, creates brand influences, retains customers profile data and strengthens customer loyalty.

Loop & Tie: An easy to way to send a gift you know the recipient will love. Users select a price range and then selects to send “a gift of choice” or a specific inventory item. When sending “a gift of choice” the recipient will be able to select any of the inventory items in that price range as their gift.

Spokefly: On-demand bike rentals from the touch of your phone. Use the app to match with a nearby bike, unlock it and ride it anywhere.

Suiteness: Provides guests an opportunity to book high-end suites for less than what they would pay for a standard room.

TableGrabber: A comprehensive restaurant reservation web site that allows users to select a city and find a restaurant, make reservations, secure deals and browse local events.

TripChamp: A travel platform for growing companies of all sizes. Their proprietary AI and normalization technology enables users to search across multiple inventory sources to deliver personalized travel solutions, optimized for each traveler at the very best prices.

Triptease: A range of travel booking digital tools to improve the relationships between hotels and guests, driving direct bookings and reducing the power of middlemen.

Venga: Connects the dots between guests and their purchases unlocking the data restaurants have never been able to put to use, while providing tools to increase guest satisfaction and frequency.

All in all, I’d like to say “thank you” to each and every one of our participants, judges, coordinators and attendees for making this a truly spectacular event. Be sure to keep an eye out for all of the exciting things on HFTP’s horizon like HITEC Asia and HITEC Europe as well as another round of Entrepreneur 20X in 2016.


Daniel N. Conti, Jr., CHAE, CAM, is the 2014-2015 Global President of Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP). Conti is the Director of Finance at Wyndham Grand Jupiter at Harbourside Place in Jupiter, Fl, USA. 

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About the Author: Daniel Conti