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“I am pretty sure that every founder will agree that the daily surprises of running a startup lead you to constantly expect the unexpected. However this somewhat understates what was in store for us at Web Summit when we arrived in Dublin last November.”
We’d applied for the PITCH competition in a mad rush at the last minute on a rainy afternoon in London and didn’t quite make the cut. The competition saw over 1500 of the best startups in Europe and around the World apply to pitch at the conference itself, with only 200 being shortlisted – we were 201. In a stroke of luck for us, we were accepted at the last minute due to another startup dropping out.
As we progressed through the different rounds of the competition at Web Summit, each with a progressively bigger audience, more renowned judges and high calibre of competitors, we couldn’t quite believe it. We were the wildcard from the beginning yet we’d made it to the final round alongside three other finalists in our category. We had the opportunity to pitch in front of some 5000 people in the seated audience and 17,000 others watching on screens.
We might not have been the coolest startup at Web Summit – BaseStone is a tablet and web-based collaboration tool for architects and engineers, but we solve a very real problem for the construction industry. 30% of the cost of construction is lost through process and contractual inefficiencies. BaseStone focuses on the collaborative review process that takes place over engineering drawings, and actively reduces the chance of major errors occurring, saving massive amounts of money. We think that’s pretty cool.
Despite being the wildcard, we triumphed in the Alpha category for early-stage startups, gaining first place. At Web Summit – expect the unexpected.
Building on our foundations
Like most startups, we live ‘brick by brick’ (pun intended!) – every small win helps us build up our company. Just the news of our win at Web Summit had a huge impact on reinforcing our credibility and created momentum in ways that were surprising to say the least.
As it happened, we were in the process of securing contracts with some of the biggest construction multinationals. The news reached them through social media, and boosted even further their eagerness to work with BaseStone. We’ve now signed long-term contracts and are rolling out our technology to engineers in the field on fantastically large projects – an incredible success.
Standing on the shoulders of giants
Whilst the exposure we received was a prize in itself, the actual prize for winning the competition was €10,000, mentorship from Coca-Cola and a trip to their Headquarters in Atlanta. We were excited for the trip and intrigued to see how one of the world’s biggest consumer brands could help a tiny construction startup, and indeed to understand how a soft-drink company could help out in the seemingly unrelated industry of construction.
Having just returned from Atlanta last week, we’re still reeling from an incredible insight into the secret world of Coca-Cola. It was a whirlwind from the outset as we were whisked from meetings to events to networking opportunities with some of the most senior individuals in the organisation.
We were surprised not only by their warmth and openness to help, but also their eagerness to learn from small, agile startups like ourselves. It was a two-way conversation about how we can all benefit from this opportunity with ‘win-win’ being a key phrase throughout the week. The biggest win for us however, was understanding that Coca-Cola is a heavyweight in construction too, with a constant need to ensure they have the most efficient bottling and manufacturing plants in the world…
To summarise, attending the WebSummit and winning the PITCH competition has resonated on nearly every level for us. A fantastic event, we will be back next year.
BaseStone’s Founder and CEO
BaseStone were winners of the Pitch Competition 2014, you could be too! – Find out how here.