What does it mean to be a winner of HFTP’s Entrepreneur 20X (E20X) startup pitch competition? For the Judge’s Choice startup at the debut E20X Dubai competition in 2021, Hoick, it is about showcasing passion. “The reward lies in learning that others see value in the innovation [and] understand its capabilities,” says Vladan Pantelic, co-founder and CEO of Hoick. For TraknProtect’s CEO Parminder Batra, it is about validation for “all the hard work that we have done over many years to bring the best safety solution to the hotel industry.” TraknProtect received the Judge’s Choice Award at HITEC Minneapolis in 2019.
E20X is an invaluable opportunity for hospitality technology startups to spotlight their innovative solutions in front of CIOs and angel investors, serial entrepreneurs and industry insiders. Since its debut at HITEC Austin in 2015, 13 startups have received an award at E20X competitions held during three global HITEC events — HITEC North America, HITEC Europe and HITEC Dubai. E20X participants compete for two awards: the Judge's Choice Award and the People's Choice Award.
Get to know a few of these winning startups and get ready for the return of E20X at HITEC Orlando 2022, taking place Wednesday, June 29 on the HITEC Headliners stage and at HITEC Dubai on Wednesday, May 25. HFTP is now accepting applications for startups who would like the chance to pitch their cutting-edge business concepts, as well as industry experts who would like to mentor participants one-on-one prior to the competition. Learn more about how to apply by April 27 for Dubai and May 1 for Orlando on the E20X website.
Hoick won the Judge’s Choice Award at the 2021 E20X Debut in Dubai
Last year in Dubai, Hoick presented its Mining Experiences™ (MX) software platform, a modern software platform that unlocks experience potential and helps organizations to continually assess the quality of their two core experiences: customers and employees. The company molded cutting-edge technology that eliminates the experience gap and allows service-oriented companies to discover, understand and develop actionable insights to drive the performance forward.
“We recognized an uncatered market – namely, SMEs who do not have comprehensive support in the field of CX and EX,” says Pantelic. “At Hoick, we empower businesses to listen to customer and employee feedback, understand and analyze what they hear, and take actions to improve experiences and design new ones – all in real time.”
When asked to describe the overall experience of participating in E20X, Pantelic pointed to the invaluable opportunity to gain exposure for the company as the best part of the event. “It is always a great experience to share the work we do, especially when an enterprise is in its infancy – this allows us to reach specific audiences, and perhaps pave ways for networking and prospective opportunities.”
And his tip for startups who participate in E20X this year: “Focus on developing your products, ironing out any kinks as opposed to [focusing on] funding in its entirety.”
TraknProtect won the Judge’s Choice Award at E20X Minneapolis in 2019
“The inspiration to create TraknProtect was to provide safety to employees who are vulnerable when working alone,” explained Batra, “and to do it in a way that removed the friction points for hotels to deploy such solutions by making the solution easy to use and easy to deploy, while not being extraordinarily expensive.” TraknProtect accomplishes this goal with its IoT platform, which utilizes a network of BLE/Wi-Fi gateways that continuously gather real-time data from safety buttons and sensors to triangulate and provide accurate location of those devices in a hotel.
Since the company’s E20X win two years ago, “TraknProtect has grown substantially both in reach and philosophy,” said Batra. “We have secured vendor status with several of the largest hotel brands, we have secured many hotel deals and had an impact on the lives of hotel workers across the United States and most importantly, we have increased the visibility of the issue of human trafficking through our partnership with the AHLA. Our future goals are simple…grow our install base, continue to have an impact on the hotel industry, and do our best to ensure the safety of hotel employees everywhere.”
Like Pantelic, Batra noted exposure as central to the value of the E20X experience. “The event enabled us to showcase our technology and articulate our company’s commitment to staff safety. It also helped create a buzz on the floor of HITEC about TraknProtect that carried on throughout the conference.
“We know that E20X is a great way to increase the visibility of your brand and solutions, and so to participate in the session was a ‘no brainer’… some executives have told me this is the one event they do not miss to learn more about upcoming technologies and the benefits that startups can have on our hotel technology ecosystem.”
Her tip for startups who participate in E20X this year: “Focus. Focus. Focus! It is always easy to get distracted as a startup, but it is imperative that you maintain your focus on why you started the company in the first place.”
Glance Back at Past E20X Winners Featured on HFTP Connect
Revisit more E20X winning startups by reading their past profiles on HFTP Connect:
We hope to see you on the stage or in the audience at E20X Dubai or E20X Orlando later this year.