StartUpdate #5: The best part of founding a startup is the learning process — Guy Kessels, Co-founder of Hugo Events

Thousands of events are taking place throughout the year in the Netherlands. Although most of them are fun, organizing events can be quite painful, let’s say, with unexpected weather changes, changing participants and ticket sales. Our next guest Guy Kessels, the co-founder, and CEO of Hugo Events have a smart solution for that! Hugo Events has a fresh approach to fanbase management with event based surveys and email campaigning for organizers.

Hugo Events started its journey in January 2015. The aim of the team is clear: helping organizers get to know their audience better and become more engaged. When asked about the introduction process of their software, Guy explains it briefly:

We have built software that helps event organizers with three things, on one side with data management — you can think of something like the segmentation functionality of a CRM tool. On the other side, questionnaires and email campaigning.

The Software

There are plenty of obstacles out of the organizational process. For saving time and money, the software of Hugo Event is quite practical — enriching people’s profiles with feedback data and turning the collected data into smart email campaigns. Most parties are working with similar products like MailChimp, Guy tells me, that’s just very, very expensive. What Guy and his team want to pursue is the same thing but smarter, with enriched (feedback) data and without making you spend so much money.

Funding and VCs

Hugo Events has a very motivated, young and international team based in Amsterdam. Other than the Netherlands, the company works with countries such as Belgium, Germany, and Canada. Up until now, the Hugo Events team managed to operate and survive through their own revenue, convertible notes, and an angel investment. For now, Guy’s biggest desire is to go find a VC at the end of the year, who can help them grow bigger. Their motivation is very high and already working hard to improve their product.

For 2016, we have kept our focus on the event industry, because we come from the e-ticketing company Paylogic, and saw a lot of possibilities within the event industry. Now, we’re broadening the scope and for example got Bavaria as a customer who also wishes to learn from the festival audiences, so we are setting up separate projects with them.

Guy was one of the attendees of Capital On Stage events as well. For him, the event has an accessible set up to everyone, even if you are just starting out as a startup. He thinks the concept of the event was great:

I had questions such as “What VCs expect from a startup?” “How does such a conversation go?” and “What do I deliver myself and how to look at that?”. What is always useful to do, especially towards startups who are new to the world of funding, is to give tips and tricks and guide them through that as well.

The best part of founding a startup for Guy is the learning process. He says that he is constantly learning. But, he also enjoys the best when somebody remembers him and asks him more about Hugo Events, then the feeling is great, he says.

Sharing feedback

Along with the team, Guy wants to disrupt the way people share their feedback. Feedback should be something day to day, everyone should be starting his/her day with that, he believes and adds:

So, that’s something for us for the long term, that all the data we collect — and whether it comes to ticketing purchasing behavior or feedback data — is that we merge it and eventually use it to help our customers, in the form of predictive analysis.

The next step for Hugo Events is to become more prominent in the industry, and they are working hard for that. At the end of our talk, Guy frankly tells me, when you pass that stage and you no longer have to introduce yourself because they already know you in the industry, yeah that’s the moment I’m looking forward to!


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