Have you ever felt like you’ve wasted your time attending to a business event? Now it’s time to maximise your productivity at networking. Meethub partners up with event organisers (on a pay-per-use business model ) to provide a scheduling platform that allows attendees to easily arrange face-to-face meetings. The app was launched in October 2012 and has gone through a continuous learning process, successfully supporting an increasing number of events around the world.
We interviewed Pedro Coutinho (@pcoutinhoz), Meethub CEO and co-founder.
Question. You’re also co-founder of WATERDOG mobile, “a group of mobile enthusiasts that believe mobile technology is and will keep changing our lives”. Was this the seed for Meethub? How did you come up with this idea?
Answer. WATERDOG mobile was created in October 2010 by 4 people with previous experience on web and mobile development. We didn’t have an idea for a product but decided to start working together as a development services company. We wanted to create a strong team first, knowing that ideas would come. When a former colleague of mine presented us the idea of facilitating the process of scheduling face-to-face meetings between event participants and helping event organisers set up matchmaking/one-to-one activities with very small effort, we immediately decided to join our efforts on the development of a solution that became Meethub.
Q. Which event supported by Meethub has been the most successful one and why?
A. We have several events where the usage of Meethub was a success because it allowed participants to schedule several business meetings successfully. Our product works on any event where meeting other participants face-to-face is an added value. Professional conferences, brokerage events, or business gatherings are the perfect fit for Meethub because people look for a way to pre-schedule meetings at a certain time and date with very small effort. Business people are normally very busy with a very tight agenda and automatic scheduling is a feature they welcome very much. A good example of a repeated customer of Meethub with great success is European Space Solutions where we repeatedly have more than 100 participants that schedule more than 200 face-to-face meetings in 2 days. We are talking about more than 200 potential business deals, which is very valuable. Once a lady from India that was participating in the event for the first time, and didn’t know anyone, came personally to thank us for being able to schedule 15 meetings in two days. This happens often but this personal testimonial really reflected what we want to achieve.
Q. Currently Meethub operates on a B2B basis, but is it crazy to think of Meethub as a B2C solution despite the potentially high competition in this market?
A. Meethub is currently sold directly to event organisers for many reasons. Although the end value is for the participants, we need to be in contact with the organisers because the product requires important information and data concerning event logistics and physical space, sponsors, programme, meetings times, and so on. Also, the event organiser knows who are the participants that registered and this is the best way to create a private and confidential networking group, something that we have seen to be an advantage for professionals and business people. This doesn’t mean Meethub will never be a B2C solution but not at the moment. We need to be in close contact with event organisers, understand how they operate, what do they offer and how can it be improved by the adoption of our product.
Q. Meethub was selected by Seedcamp Lisbon in 2012, how was this experience like? What kind of impact did it have on the project?
A. Seedcamp was our first contact with potential external investment that forced us to think on some business aspects that were not sufficiently explored. It was a very nice experience to understand if getting investment was the path to follow and we have also received some interesting mentoring from people with relevant experience.
Q. How are you funding Meethub? Pure bootstrapping, angel investment?
A. Meethub has been totally bootstrapped from the beginning. The only investment the company has is our own time and money. We are in contact with some investors that are interested in joining but we believe we still have to achieve some important milestones that will give them (and us) even more confidence in what Meethub can achieve.
Q. Which milestones have you achieved and what’s next for Meethub?
A. Meethub was privately launched in October 2012. The first six months were dedicated to user testing and product-market fit validation, and the results exceeded our expectations. The product was used in tens of events at several countries with very positive feedback and usage from both organisers and participants. After fixing some bugs and developing new functionalities, we spent some more months testing different approaches to our business model and having our first recurrent revenue. Currently, we are finalising a new version of the platform with some new interesting features for the participants and our new organiser’s portal that will allow our clients to have more freedom in managing their event and, at the same time, will allow us to scale the business and contact all the potential clients that have been in touch with us. This new version is purely based upon the experience we had in the past year and the feedback we got. It is very important to listen to both our clients — the event organisers, and to the event participants — their clients.
Q. Would you tell us your biggest failure and success as an entrepreneur?
A. In the very beginning of WATERDOG mobile, due to our clear vision of developing our own products that could lead to spin-offs, we have joined several ventures that took too much time to give back or didn’t give back at all. So we might have failed there but I actually don’t consider that a failure because now we evaluate much better the options we have and take better and faster decisions. We believe this is a very important aspect for the growth of a successful company. One can follow different paths to arrive to a certain destination. In terms of success, our biggest achievement was to build the start of something that can be a very successful company, Meethub. Knowing that this product solves a lot of pains and clearly foments the creation of new business opportunities for the people that invest time and money participating in events is what keeps us focused on continuously improving and growing our company.