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All female Irish start-up launches at CultureTECH Festival

The inaugural CultureTECH Festival will play host to the exciting launch of, co-founded by Breda Doherty and Catherine Morris, who hail from Derry and Omagh respectively. is the global event community. It caters for events with a music, arts or digital focus, reflecting the increasing trend for festivals and conferences such as SXSW in Austin, CMJ in New York and CultureTECH whose schedules incorporate all three of these themes. Catherine and Breda came up with the idea for during SXSW in 2010 after realising they’d both encountered the same time consuming issues when planning their attendance at that year’s conference.

Catherine explains: “We’d each spent a significant amount of time researching and planning our attendance at SXSW, including suitable accommodation, how to get around the city, where to eat as a vegetarian in the very non-veggie state of Texas and the best way to get the most out of the event from a business opportunity; the main reason we were both there. All of this planning left less time to focus on the best ways to get the most out of SXSW from a business perspective; the main reason we were both there.”

Breda continues: “We just thought it shouldn’t be this hard? We started talking about possible solutions and kept coming back to this idea of one central hub pulling in all the information people usually need to plan their event attendance plus facilitating networking opportunities with fellow event goers.”

Inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit very much in the air during SXSW the girls began fleshing out the idea for what is now They successfully pitched the idea just a couple of months later at Digital Derry’s SeedComp; in front of judges including Facebook’s Global Director of Operations, Colm Long. Since then, they have worked relentlessly to bring to market with Breda explaining how they refined the idea into an independent niche community; a model whose success can already be seen in platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest.

“Our research showed that’s functionality is of particular benefit to events with a more independent ethos like IndieTracks in Derbyshire and Green Man Festival in Wales; also the type of events we ourselves are fans of. The organisers of these events are dedicated to putting together a talented but not necessarily commercially well known line-up. They put credibility over high revenues which make people more loyal to attending their event each year. When events start to forget their original ethos it doesn’t always bode well for their success as seen recently in the failure of this year’s much expanded BLOC festival.”

When asked what value offers independent event organisers Breda answers: “Firstly it opens up their festival or conference to a global audience not always possible with the limited marketing budget these events have. Secondly, given the overwhelming amount of planning that goes into putting these events together, organisers don’t have as much time as they’d like to connect with their attendees; provides a way for them to have direct contact with their attendees. Finally saves organisers the headache of trying to encourage people to provide feedback about their events. Instead using our straight-forward review functionality, attendees can rate various aspects of the event within the community itself. We can then provide organisers with an easily digestible download of this feedback.”

She also expands on how giving attendees a voice is vital to the community. “We’ve already seen with the success of sites like TripAdvisor that people are now willing to rate their experiences in an open way; particularly when it hasn’t been a positive one. is about giving people the same ability to rate their event experience as they have when rating their hotel experience. But we’ve also taken this a step forward and allow them to connect with other passionate event goers and have conversations about these events without the noise of other social networks.” focus on the whole event process such as planning where to stay and how to get there is well timed given the rise in numbers of the “festival tourist” i.e. those willing to travel abroad for events. This has been brought about by the cheaper ticket prices for events in places like Spain, Poland and Berlin over UK based events with the guaranteed sunshine meaning people no longer have to choose between their annual holiday or attending a festival; going abroad they get both and helps them get to the more fun aspects of this holiday a lot quicker.

That the girls are on to something is supported by their success in securing funding to bring the idea to life with the team now also expanding to include two more talented Irish females in the form of Marketing & Business Development Consultant Lynn Jennings and Content & Community Contributor Ann-Marie Duffin.

Catherine explains why they have chosen CultureTECH for their launch. “Mark Nagurski, the organiser of CultureTECH has been extremely supportive in helping us get off the ground and therefore we were keen to be involved. Being able to launch at such a high calibre event is a great opportunity for us to promote to an expected 10,000 attendees. It was also important for us to acknowledge the great business ideas outside of our own which are being thought up in Derry and the exciting future this offers the city.”

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