Londoners love tech, and Londoners love talking about tech. Whilst flagship global events (CES Las Vegas, Web Summit in Lisbon, GSMA in Barcelona and Shanghai, London Tech Week, even) might grab the headlines, the best connections are often made in the corners of pubs after a low-key pitching event or meet-up that only a die-hard techie would be able to find online, let alone attend.
How do you quantify the effect of these micro-meet-ups, mini festivals and insider hackathons?
Airfinity, the event data provider startup, have done just that, and the truth is now out – small and medium sized events are what’s driving London’s ecosystem – an ecosystem that is delivering £56 billion turnover annually, and supplying more than 300,000 jobs.
So why, we must ask ourselves, are sponsors seemingly reluctant to come to the party?
According to Airfinity’s research, published exclusively this week, in 2016 there were more than 100,000 events held for tech professionals in London, attracting a staggering 800,000 attendees.
Most of these events, Airfinity say, were free to attend, but despite this, only around half attracted monetary sponsorship.
Sponsorship – often in the form of “free beer and pizza”, or the provision of a venue, is popular, say Airfinity, but also leads to many events “leaving money on the table” – sponsors aren’t capturing the real value of their audiences, and event organisers aren’r being compensated for their efforst in the right way.
Airfinity’s research suggests that despite attracting more than 12,000 sponsors during 2016, small and mid-sized events have significant revenue growth potential. The current total sponsor revenue for these kinds of events stands at around £5 million – a figure which Airfinity founder Rasmus Bech Hansen says could triple if the value of sponsor / event relationships were optimized.
“Events are the heart of the tech community and this report shows that it is alive and kicking like never before”, Hansen says; “but there is still a lot of unfulfilled potential and the industry remains nascent.”
“Many great events with attractive audiences go un-sponsored. With no revenue, these events are probably not sustainable long term. It’s time for events and corporates to leverage the current momentum and take the tech event industry to the next level.”
Hear, hear Rasmus! Are you doing enough to bring in the sponsors your event deserves. Airfinity’s deep-dive report is well worth a perusal – the average London event has 84 attendees, and attracts an average of two sponsors. 53% of events attract an average of £1,600 in monetary sponsorship.
So much work goes into making London the world’s leading tech hub, and from the Square Mile to Mayfair, corporates are looking on, wondering how to tap into the startup talent pool.
Is it time we gave them the chance to get involved?