There’s plenty of folklore about the small start-ups that make it big by putting hard work behind a brilliant idea. One of the world’s largest tech companies—Apple—thrives on this type of origin story. And part of that story, the key to success, is the importance of mentorship and industry feedback. In a competitive market where many entrepreneurs are working to realize their great ideas, it is crucial to step out of an insular environment throughout the development stage and reach out to the industry practitioners who will implement the technology.
Hoping to facilitate the connection between entrepreneurs and professionals shaping the hospitality technology environment, last June HFTP held the pitch competition, Entrepreneur 20X (E20X). The event, held in conjunction with the Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition and Conference, gathered innovative start-ups to pitch cutting-edge, transformative hospitality technology to an expert panel of judges with backgrounds in hospitality, technology and entrepreneurship, and to a standing-room only crowd of HITEC attendees. Start-ups with a product or service geared toward the hospitality technology industry pitched their offering to the judging panel. 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.
For the inaugural E20X, the judges crowned the California-based company, Whistle, as the winners. The company’s product connects customers and businesses via popular mobile messaging apps and SMS. The company was recognized as the "Most Innovative Idea," won a cash prize and a speaking opportunity in the HITEC exhibit hall. In addition, all E20X participants had the opportunity to exhibit and demonstrate their technology in a special display area within the HITEC exhibit hall.
Now, six months later, the company’s founders attribute its current momentum to their introduction to the larger hospitality technology community at E2X.
Whistle co-founder Chris Hovanessian recently wrote, “Direct feedback has always been a key component for Whistle—it takes the guesswork out of the equation and provides a solution our partners will use and benefit from. Based on feedback from the event, our roadmap has slightly shifted to provide a better, streamlined user experience.
“Whistle was able to make some great connections at HITEC, including great new clients, partners and key industry specialists. Whistle is currently working on executing a handful of partnerships, established as a result of the event, which are expected to materialize soon.”
The launch of Entrepreneur 20X exceeded our expectations: It illustrated the type of technology that is in demand, brought together established professionals with new developers, and provided a great show for HITEC attendees. Expect to see Entrepreneur 20X again at HITEC 2016 on June 20 in New Orleans. Learn more about it at www.hitec.org and explore the services that Whistle provides at trywhistle.com.