The Cyberport alumnus partners up with Web Summit to manage events
Registration platform EventXtra helps event organisers with guest check-ins and walk-in on-site registration.
Signups are created online, where participants can RSVP. Guests are registered by scanning a QR code and badges can also be printed (an option if the client rents the badge printing service). Post-event, a breakdown and analysis of the attendees is provided.
Hong Kong native Sum Wong co-founded EventXtra in 2013 alongside Angus Luk, who he met in secondary school.
“We started before Cocoon [a co-working space in Hong Kong] existed. You can feel the difference from then to now, in Hong Kong’s startup scene. There was no one talking about startups in 2012. In 2013, we got Cyberport, and it grew from there,” says Wong.
At the moment, the team has grown to 25. “It’s a pretty flat company. Everyone at this stage is a shareholder,” says the 27-year old Founder.
Wong chatted with e27 about thoughts and future plans after securing Web Summit, the company’s biggest client thus far.
Here are edited excerpts of the interview:
How does EventXtra differentiate itself from similar platforms like Eventbrite and Eventbee?
We focus on data. We streamline the process so you can manage it easily from the second people check in. You can also create sub-events.
We track each individual attendee. You can track how many CEOs, CFOs come, adding a lot of side information. It’s using data to save money. Understanding the attendee is a way to measure metrics. If some CEOs aren’t attending a lot of events, you can adjust [accordingly].
In the past, Web Summit did not have comprehensive data, you needed to input the data.
For schools and non-profits, we also do sponsorships and provide free usage for small-scale events.
Where did you get the idea to build an events management platform?
I went to a lot of events in Hong Kong. At each event, I saw people doing things manually, like checking names off and checking for attendees. Because [my Co-Founder] and I studied computer science, we thought, why not create a system to do it? So we built something with an intern, the beginning of EventXtra.
Initially, we got our customers through word of mouth. Our first client tested it out at an event, which is how we got our second client. About 90 per cent of our clients are from Hong Kong.
Did you raise funding for EventXtra?
I went to the US and I saw how they did fundraising. They would raise first through friends and family. I did that when I came back to Hong Kong. At the very beginning, we invested our own money.
We then did an angel round and raised about US$550,000 in total.
Some investors include my mentor at HKUST [Hong Kong University of Science and Technology]. I shared what I was doing, and she said she was interested in investing, it was blind trust! Other investors are Gigamon, a hardware company and Hong Kong-based Click Ventures.
Who are your main competitors?
Honestly, our main competitor is people who still use the manual method. About 75 per cent of events in Hong Kong are still done through old software programs or even by hand [pencil and paper]. In the beginning, people might not know the difference using event management tools can bring. But there’s much more comprehensive data.
How much does the service cost?
The client pays a flat fee of US$2 per attendee. There’s also an annual subscription option. If you have 50 events in one year, you can see all the patterns and data. Potential clients and vendors come and understand the client much more. Corporates can get information from data.
What are your advantages as a local player in Hong Kong’s startup scene?
There’s an advantage if you speak Cantonese. Clients in Hong Kong speak Cantonese. If you speak English, Cantonese and Mandarin you can reach out to people you want in China or the US. That’s the advantage of Hong Kong.
I did my exchange in university in Beijing at Tsinghua University and also Washington D.C. I saw a lot of what was happening in the startup scene there, which was [interesting] to bring back.
Are there other local startups that you’re excited about from Hong Kong?
9gag: They work hard to focus on the product. 9gag uses the Western way to run and manage a company in Hong Kong and reach out and grab talents from China and Hong Kong. That’s the advantage. They have overall a good product, extraordinary talent.
Enterploid / Divide: They’re quiet but from Hong Kong. They were acquired by Google in 2014 for US$120 million. They also focus on building a great product. It has a great company culture.
What’s in store next for EventXtra?
Our plan is to fundraise more, and, in the future, think about partnerships or acquisition. We don’t want to just stay in Hong Kong. You can start here, but we want to also focus beyond Hong Kong and on the APAC region — Hong Kong is a small market.
Image Credit:Kenneth Law of EventXtra
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