Why Hospitality Tech Startups Should Join a Pitch Competition like HFTP’s Entrepreneur 20X in 2019

You have brainstormed a brilliant idea to solve an existing problem in today’s complex hospitality industry. You’ve put in the work to turn that idea into a startup business. That may have included creating a team, designing a website and developing your product. Now, what you need involves securing funding, building your contacts and burgeoning your brand to go fully from a successful startup to a straight-up success.

Participating in a competition like HFTP’s Entrepreneur 20X (E20X) can help you take your aspiring business to that next level by giving you the opportunity you need to gain valuable exposure, sharpen your sales pitch, make great industry connections and turn your startup into an award-winner.

Here are several reasons your startup should participate in E20X at HITEC in 2019:

Connect with Important Industry Experts

KITRO won the grand prize during E20X Europe 2018. Co-founder Anastasia Hofmann and the team at KITRO offers the following advice: “Startups participating in E20X should really make an effort to use the networking opportunities present at the conference and make sure to follow up afterwards to initiate longer discussions with potential partners and customers.”

Christopher Hovanessian, co-founder and president of Whistle, E20X Judge’s Award winner at E20X 2015 says: “Whistle was able to make some great connections at HITEC, including great new clients, partners and key industry specialists. [E20X] is a great opportunity to gain tons of exposure and reassure that your start-up is headed in the right direction.”

Participants also have access to a team of mentors before the competition. Day-of mentors will meet face-to-face with participants in a series of pre-booked meetups hours before the E20X competition takes place sharing their experience, answering questions and making invaluable connections.

Shine a Light on Your Breakthrough Idea

“Large companies have the resources and the brand reputation, but it is the startups that are fostering major disruptions in our industry due to their innovative ideas and thinking,” says HITEC Dubai’s Advisory Council Chairperson Laurent A. Voivenel, senior vice president, operations and development for the Middle East, Africa and India at Swiss-Belhotel International.

During E20X, you will have the opportunity to present your inventive business concept to a room full of HITEC attendees, as well as a panel of expert judges — including hospitality CIOs, angel investors, serial entrepreneurs and industry insiders.

Dual award-winning startup Hyre took home both the Judge’s Award and the People’s Startup Award during HITEC Europe 2017. Hyre CEO Eropa Stein says, “E20X was very valuable. It is rare to get the attention of so many industry professionals and decision makers at once. I think that for me, participating in the competition helped establish myself as an expert in hospitality staffing. For Hyre, HITEC helped us expand our professional network and create long lasting relationships.”

Gain Valuable Exposure

KITRO co-founder Hofmann explains how E20X gave them vital exposure and a global platform for KITRO to share their digital solutions to food waste in the hospitality industry:

“At bigger conferences such as HITEC, it is always very helpful to try to participate in the program to get exposure. Especially as a startup with limited funds a booth might be too costly, so pitching on stage will increase visibility and enable interested people to approach you. This was one of the reasons why we participated as well as the session with mentors from the industry before the pitches. It was very valuable for us in terms of growing our network and reach within the hospitality industry.”

Read more about KITRO and their experiences participating in E20X last year.

Participating E20X startups are given further exposure with their own kiosk in the E20X Innovation Lab during HITEC exhibition hours. HITEC attendees are able to visit with the various startups in the exhibit hall to learn more about the company and ask questions. Throughout HITEC, attendees are also voting for their favorite startup to win the People’s Startup Award on the HFTP Multi-Event Mobile App.

Helpful Tips: Prepare, Practice and then Pitch

Past E20X winners have continuously stressed the importance of practicing before you pitch. Arrivedo won the People’s Startup Award during E20X HITEC Toronto in 2017. Co-founder and CEO Alonso Franco and his team offer the following advice:

  • Prepare the text you would like to present and gauge your ability to communicate the message effectively. In addition, when choosing your words, be strategic and cover various fronts. Make sure you are able to deliver the text within the allotted time frame and leave about 20 percent as an extra buffer.
  • Then practice, practice, practice and recite the text until you don’t need to read it anymore.
  • Reflect on different ways that the audience can best connect to the main points you want to make.
  • Explain why people care about your product and frame your presentation like a story that will take the audience on a journey. The goal should be to communicate a message to help others easily understand why the product will make a difference in their lives.

Finally… Become an Award Winner

E20X participants will compete for a grand prize and the guaranteed opportunity to be promoted as the winner to the hospitality industry. The Judge’s Award is selected by an expert panel of judges. The People’s Startup Award is selected by HITEC attendees.

Hyre CEO Stein reflected on their double win: “It was such an honor to win both awards. The E20X Judge’s Award, in a way, validated our business model. The People’s Startup Award proved to [Hyre] that customers wanted our solution and accepted our product.”

Arrivedo gave an update on their progress six months after their People’s Startup Award win: “After E20X, we experienced great momentum with hundreds of hotels starting to use our technology. Today, more than 500 hotels in over 100 cities have published a Neighborhood Guide with Arrivedo… [and] we have grown our travel writer community to more than 600 freelancers around the world. Applicants have included writers working with proclaimed publications, including Forbes Travel, Huffington Post, Reader’s Digest and more.”

Read more about Arrivedo and how E20X helped elevate a startup.

Apply Today

There are two upcoming E20X events in 2019:

  • E20X Europe (taking place at HITEC Europe)
    April 9–11, 2019
    Palau de Congressos — Palma, Mallorca, Spain
    Application Deadline: February 15, 2019
  • E20X Minneapolis (taking place at HITEC Minneapolis)
    June 17–20, 2019
    Minneapolis Convention Center — Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
    Application Deadline: April 1, 2019

For qualifications and more, email E20X@hftp.org. You can also visit the E20X section on the HFTP website.

Briana Gilmore is the HFTP communications coordinator.
Briana can be reached at Briana.Gilmore@hftp.org or +1 (512) 220-4017.

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