Beamian is a technological product originally created by the company MobilityNow that offers an all-in-one event management solution consisting of a digital platform and several physical components. This project, installed at LISPOLIS since its creation, was recently invested by Portugal Ventures. LISPOLIS interviewed Sérgio Pinto, Managing Partner of MobilityNow and now CEO of beamian, about the application process and the future perspectives that this investment will provide.
By Cíntia Costa
Beamian is composed of a cloud platform, which allows organizers to create and manage all tasks inherent to an event, and two types of physical identifiers: smartbadges, that identify visitors, and beamers, IoT equipments that identify places, brands and exhibitors that are used during the event and allow the registration of all interactions between participants, brands and exhibitors.
The potential of the EMS (Event Management Software) market has an estimated value of 7 billion Euros (worldwide values, calculated for 2019) and grows more than 11% per year. Through the investment of Portugal Ventures, Sérgio Pinto and Sérgio Alves, founders of this startup, and the entire beamian team intend to accelerate the process of internationalization and expansion in the European market.
How did the project start and where is it now?
It all started with MobilityNow, at UPTEC, a company founded with the aim of investigating solutions that exploit the potential of mobile technologies, giving particular focus to NFC (Near Field Communication), one of the markets where we found that we could apply this technology differently was the event market. In order to test the concept, we moved towards the creation of a product, which had the initial name of “-M-events”, and the first customers started to join, especially in the Food & Wine sector and later in the job fairs, until we realized that there was a market fit that led us to the creation of a new brand, outside the umbrella MobilityNow, with the name of beamian.
The moment when we created beamian, as a brand, coincides with the moment when we decided to enter LISPOLIS, where we installed the growth team – a team that combines sales, marketing and customer success skills.
From then on, everything was very fast: we started to expand our customer base, first in these two segments (job fairs and Food & Wine), where we deliver a service that solves a very practical problem. People went to events to taste new and interesting wines and there was no registration process for their preferences, either they took pictures of the wines or wrote them down on a notebook, and in the same way the producers offered the wines to anonymous consumers without having the chance to continue the commercial relationship. beamian appears to scan and simplify the process. Thus, those who taste the wines can see their preferences and buy the products online at preferential prices. The producers also keep a database of people to whom they offered wine.
In the case of job fairs, students arrived and delivered the paper resumes to all recruiters, and they took numerous paper resumes home, and we digitized the process and started to allow applications with a simple touch of the student card.
And this is the short story of the origin of beamian.
Subsequently, during the last year, the strategy involved applying the same concept to other market segments: professional fairs, music events, corporate events, etc. Only during this last month, we provided services at NOS Alive, at the Festival dos Tabuleiros in Tomar and we held multiple professional fairs – in the main venues in Portugal, such as FIL, Exponor and Exposalão.
We are applying the same technology in different contexts. While at NOS Alive we are allowing people to manage consumption in VIP tents, if we go to a professional fair we are allowing professionals to collect professional interactions in a visit experience booklet (where information requests and details about visited companies), and for the exhibitor who invested in a beamian stand we are offering a method of collecting leads. And therefore, it is this experience and this competence to bridge the gap between what happens in the real world and what is recorded on our platform, in the digital world, that beamian offers.
In which countries has the beamian been present at events?
In October last year we had an interesting experience, which tested our ability to provide services in complex events, in multiple geographies, which consisted of providing services simultaneously to four events, two in Portugal, one in Spain and another in Lithuania, which is still an interesting challenge for a 6 people team, the result was that they all went very well and was a great example of capacity for the platform and for the whole team.
We have also done several events in Spain, we had this experience in Lithuania, we were in Brazil and also in France. What we want with this investment from Portugal Ventures is exactly to consolidate this international experience and go abroad, not as an exception, but as a rule, without ever neglecting the Portuguese market where we want to provide exemplary service and where we want to learn and know the best possible event organizers, what they are looking for and how we can help.
Who are your competitors?
Direct competition, regarding what we do in the markets where we work, we do not have. Indirect competition, we have a lot. Especially because the industry of technological service providers at events has a very interesting value and is filled by many technological players of enormous value.
We are looking for our space and mainly we want to be focused on solving current problems and bringing improvements to events that, being a little forgotten by the rest of the industry, have specific needs and greatly value what we offer.
There are many examples of indirect competition, for example, LinkedIN Nearby is an indirect competitor for the part of job fairs, and there are very strong players in music festivals, so I would say that obviously there are many companies in this territory, but they don’t do exactly what we do.
What would you say is the differentiating factor of Beamian?
I believe it is our ability to combine a cloud platform, which allows us to manage the entire event and simplify all those associated processes, and to combine this characteristic with the fact that we provide physical devices at the event to bridge the gap between what actually happens at the event and what is recorded, doing it in a very simple way, which usually implies an intuitive action on the part of a visitor, such as touching a smart glass, a smartbadge or even a bracelet to an equipment, that action means “I want to register” and this information is digitally recorded.
Our difference is combining the two worlds, because we are not a 100% online company, based on an app and a remote callcenter or chatbot that provides support in an undifferentiated way. We effectively go to events and provide real-time support to all customers, provide customized equipment and smartbadges, deliver physical pieces that bridge the online service.
How did you discover this Call from Portugal Ventures?
It is interesting because Portugal Ventures has always been our “target” investor. We had already done an application experience about 4 years ago with another brand just to understand what the process was like.
Last year we were at the Web Summit, by invitation, and in a moment of relaxation we ended up meeting the President of PME Investimentos, Dr. Marco Fernandes. After an informal conversation, we were invited to go to PME Investimentos, where he was kind enough to give us an overview of the investment hypotheses that could exist for a company like ours. Sometimes, and I think it is important to highlight this message, the time (however short it may be) that a more experienced person devotes to advising someone can always have the potential to have a huge impact.
Later we contacted Portugal Ventures for a first meeting to see if we were a fit to call for MVP and we decided to proceed with the application. Everything went in an excellent way, the PV team was always exceptional, and we passed all phases from the initial pitch to the international panel.
For this reason, we can say that the investment was really what we needed, when we needed it and by whom we wanted it. We are extremely satisfied.
How has LISPOLIS contributed to this process?
LISPOLIS was where we set up to launch the beamian team, and often the partnerships and benefits we have in working with each other do not depend only on the incubator but also on the companies that are incubated. At LISPOLIS, we always try to do what we know how to do best, which is to help event organizers and develop partnerships to gain visibility, and LISPOLIS has always helped us along this path; to gain the visibility we want. In fact, whenever we needed something, the LISPOLIS team was always available. Besides, it was also LISPOLIS that helped us to participate in the Next Big Idea, which, by itself, already represented a moment of success for the team. Basically, I think it was the right time and the right place for us to be.
In the future, what will this investment allow you to achieve?
The investment will essentially be for human resources, to strengthen the team and achieve two goals.
The first is to improve and introduce new technical features on the platform, especially with regard to usability. We want to give more power to the client side and the partner side, simplifying the tasks of those who have the difficult mission of organizing an event, so that they can focus on what the interactions are, what the return of the event is, since this is exactly where we add the most value. Our cloud platform and our customer success team only exist because of that, to simplify the processes and so that the event organizers can then dedicate themselves to extract more value from each event, and the value is released by interactions and by relationships between people and organizations. That’s what we believe in and that’s what we measure and record.
The second goal is the internationalization of the service.
What are the first countries planned for internationalization?
In the last year we have already done a hard job of understanding the markets and evaluating the most attractive markets for each of the segments. Even so, we will develop the markets that are most receptive to our entry and that at this moment will be the Spanish, English and French markets.
What is Portugal Ventures’ feedback and expectations for the future?
I think there is a lot of enthusiasm on their part and also on our side, but this is what is experienced basically in all startups that are invested. Of course we are extremely happy because everything went exactly as we wanted so far, so we cannot ask for more.
We now have a very aggressive plan for growth, not only searching for the next investment round, but essentially doing our job and allowing the team to continue to do their jobs well done. We believe that it is very important to have Portugal Ventures’ know-how on our side, mainly because their experience in scaling up startups is much more evident than ours.
Beamian case studies: