Thinking of applying to take part in this year’s Innovation Showcase at Venturefest Scotland? Gavin Neate, Founder at Neatebox, explains how taking part in Venturefest 2016 helped open new doors including the chance to pitch in front of energy company, ENGIE.
Venturefest 2016 was a superb event for Neatebox. I hadn’t attended the expo before but in defence this was much more a reflection on me than it was on the event which turned out to be a fantastic opportunity for us to not only demonstrate our products but also present as well.
The truth is, that as an SME, you are happy to be invited to anything in order to promote your work and Venturefest was no different initially. I had met with the organisers at Glasgow’s TEDx event where we were demonstrating our products. Not only did they engage fully and energetically with what we were doing at TEDx they were also keen to invite us to Venturefest later in the year and of course we happily accepted.
Small startups, and especially those with disruptive ideas, need air to breath. By their very nature they will most likely need time for their ideas to sink into the collective consciousness before gaining traction and events which promote this awareness are few and far between. Not only did the Venturefest committee recognise this in our regard but they repeated this process with a whole host of other like-minded businesses leading to an event where there was a real buzz of creativity and interest.
Neatebox was set up in 2012 by Gavin Neate. A Guide Dog mobility Instructor of 18 years, he had become increasingly frustrated at the inability for society to fix the problems he was seeing his clients encounter on a daily basis. Simply put. Why are pedestrian crossing buttons so often out of reach of those with mobility impairments, or why is it that the only solution ever offered up following a sub-standard customer service interaction with a disabled customer is an apology. Why not have your smartphone press the button at the crossing purely by your proximity to it or inform customer service staff of your arrival at a venue whilst sending them tips on your needs and best practice in their interaction?
At Venturefest not only were we able to demonstrate that our solutions existed but also found ourselves in front of the entire delegation as part of a panel of speakers. Standing at the front after my presentation I was inundated with interest and business cards from the likes of Google and ENGIE as well as Uber and many others. Two months later we were pitching to ENGIE on Canary Wharf and entering discussions as to how they might support us in the future.
Since Venturefest our “Button” crossing application has been given the opportunity for full installation in the town of Largs and is gathering industry interest with nominations in various sector competitions for innovation in the traffic industry. Our “Welcome” customer service platform will be launch this month with pre-launch signups from Royal Bank of Scotland, Edinburgh Airport and various tourist attractions as well as interest from the Department of Work and Pensions in promoting our solutions.
Whilst we can’t put all of our success down to one event such as Venturefest it is quite obvious to us that by taking the opportunity given to us we continue to put ourselves in a position where we are getting noticed. In the words of Gary Player, one of the best golfers ever. “I’m an incredibly lucky golfer, the more I practice the luckier I get”.