My Incredible Journey with Fem-in-Tech 2020

It’s the beginning of March 2020, and we at EventMate are excited.

I am an entrepreneur in South Africa. I’ve just hired 8 new recruits, and my team has grown to 12. We are set to launch our first product, eQuickQuotes, on the 31st of March 2020 in an innovative event called the Business Brew.

In April, we would be launching version 2 of our game changer product, the Event Exchange , to 155 early adopters for free use and testing. This after intensive interviews and focus groups held with early adopters in both Johannesburg and Pretoria. We’re positioning it as the Airbnb of the events industry.

My background?

Former Operational Intelligence for Samsung Southern Africa, in which I ran and managed mobile and web apps for sales teams across Southern African countries.

Former owner of a successful corporate event planning company, with Nando’s as our first client.

EventMate began as I started to automate my own admin and procurement as an event planner and manager, to make life easier.

Finally, the culmination of my 6 years’ worth of sacrifice, hard work, sweat and persistence is about to pay off.

I’ve been told “No” so many times from investors. “This is an ugly baby”. “It’ll never work”. “It’s been done before”. “Get a real job” by family and friends.

What’s kept me going?

Every potential customer that I’ve introduced to the products to that say “Yes. Can I use it ? Is it online ? This will make my life so much easier. Thank you”.

March 23rd, 2020. Nightmare.

A national lockdown is announced starting from the 27th of March. I feel despair, anxious, helpless. My team has worked so hard for this launch. I’ve invested so much of my own money, lived frugally, and sacrificed my own needs for so long. Waking up every day for this dream that just was about to be realized.

I suffer self-doubt and anxiety about my own ability to lead my team through this. I only have enough runway for 3 months to sustain a virtual team. I have 7 fixed term contracts terminating in June.

Month after month we wait to see if the tide has changed, and if we can salvage anything. It’s so uncertain. Unbearably uncertain.

We’ve invested too much, and can’t pivot.

New recruits terminate contracts out of fear, and contracts expire by June 2020. We lose 8 team members. June by far is the hardest month for me.

A very different year 2020 than I expected it to be.

We’ve applied for Covid Relief Funding, which we greatfully received from the Department of Tourism in October.

SEDA’s Fem-in-Tech in collaboration with SA Innovation Summit

In August, I apply for the SEDA’s Fem-in-Tech development programme in collaboration with the SA Innovation Summit as a way to keep my mind busy and proactive. As it turns out the programme was incredibly valuable and unique, as it allowed me to view pitching from an investor’s perspective.

I kid you not; there were actual videos from investors in this training, coaching us through pitching for investment through the Tech Tribe platform.

It gave a new definition to the phrase “put yourself in your investor’s shoes”, because here were actual investors giving us valuable information about how they see our pitches and the mistakes we make.

On August 25th, we were chosen as a national Top 80 finalist. This was a real glimmer of hope during a very dark time.

On the 11th of September, we were selected as National Top 20 finalists to pitch for investment. I started to feel a sense of relief at this point, not everything turned out that badly this year. The sense of dread starts to ease a little.

The Pivot

I start to realize after this training and pitching sessions that I may need to shelve my other products for a while until the event industry recovers. I just had no idea what the pivot product would be.

I thought to myself, there must something I can build to help the events industry.

I walk into a home ware store in Pretoria in October, and see table décor being sold for under R 10 an item. My heart sinks, because I know that this was an event business selling their goods to survive and closing down.

That’s when the idea for eDalali.online started. Edalali.online is an online fundraiser and auction website. We could help by auctioning off the second hand inventory on shelves that were gathering dust. We could help these businesses make money from the items that weren’t making money. I worked through the idea out through the Future Females Business Programme and our MVP was launched in December 2020. We launched our first second hand online auction site in March 2021.

SAIS 2021: Tech Tribe Fundraiser

I receive a phone call from Audrey Verhaeghe on the 24th of February 2021. This is the chairperson of the SA Innovation Summit calling little me, from her personal number, to find out how I have been since the Fem-in-tech competition and if I need anything.

I am amazed, and I am surprised by how genuine and caring she is. In the normal world, I don’t expect to receive any calls from the Chairperson of large, established organization like the SA Innovation Summit. And if I do, it’s normally from their secretary’s landline to set up an appointment.

I pitch the idea to her about using our edalali.online platform to raise funds for the SAIS2021 as an online fundraiser and auction website, and a few months later the SAIS 2021: Tech Tribe Fundraiser is set to launch a week before the SA Innovation Summit Event from the 13th — 17th of September 2021.

The Main Purpose of the fundraiser is to raise funds for the SAIS Tech Tribe programs through:

(1) Our online auction site (Edalali.online) in which entrepreneurs auction their Innovative products and services. (Live from August 2021)

https://www.edalali.online/saisfundraiser/

Or through:

(2) Online cash donations from individuals and Corporates. (Live from August 2021)

https://www.edalali.online/saisdonation/

If you would like to sign up as an entrepreneur or corporate who would like to donate products and services for the September online auction, please click on this link and fill in your details.

We will also highlight and shine a spotlight on entrepreneurs, partners and sponsors who have donated their goods and services for the auction, and very publicly giving thanks to generous donors.

Thank you to Audrey Verhaeghe, Saskia Nysschens and the SA Innovation Summit Team.

We are forever greatful for this opportunity.

If you wish to purchase tickets for this year’s innovative hybrid SA Innovation Summit, click here.

If you would like to apply for the Tech Tribe Accelerator, click here.

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Proudly South African. Affordable, event technology for small and informal event businesses. Queries: info@eventmate.co.za

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EventMate

EventMate

Proudly South African. Affordable, event technology for small and informal event businesses. Queries: info@eventmate.co.za

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