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Where are they now? Elevator Pitch alumni in Dublin

Over 20,000 attendees descended on Dublin last week for the Web Summit and among them were some familiar faces to Tech City News.

Three alumnus from the first two series of the Elevator Pitch were in town and it was remarkable to see their growth since we launched them down an elevator or stuck them on the back of a speed boat down the Thames.

We caught up with them to see how the last year had treated them, and where their startups are now.

Alex Depledge – Hassle

A bit later to the Elevator Pitch scene, Hassle took part in the second series, flying down the Thames on the back of a speedboat.

It went on to win Startup of the Year at the Elevator Pitch awards and have since continued expanding.

What has happened since last year?

Alex Depledge Hassle 250Everything! We’ve expanded from five to 35 people and from one city in one country to seven cities to three countries.

At the time, we had $400k in investment and we have since raised $6m in VC funding which brings massive change.

What’s it like bringing on that many people?

It’s so hard. The talent pool in Europe is not as deep as it is in the US and it makes recruiting and hiring very difficult.

In our sector, very few companies have successfully scaled across Europe so experience is short on the ground.

Beyond that when you are scaling you have to hire quickly, but hiring someone who doesn’t fit the culture of the company can be worse than not hiring at all.

Back in Dublin next year, where do you want Hassle to be?

I would love for to still be alive and in more European cities.

The cherry on the cake would be to have tested a few other services.

Watch Hassle’s Elevator Pitch

Damian Routley – Glow

Another alumnus of the Heron Tower elevator in Series 1, Glow has come on a long with since its pitch.

Glow is one of the leading social advertising platforms and Damian recently featured in our first documentary about making it in the Big Apple.

What has happened since last year?

Damian-Routley-Glow-250A lot has happened – the two businesses are uncomparable.

At the time, we had about 16 people all in London with huge aspirations and we are now 75 people in Germany, USA and Singapore.

We’ve added Twitter to the platform and have brought on big brands like Spotify, Zynga, US Bank, Topshop, and Tencent.

What’s it like bringing on that many people?

We’ve had to really focus on the values of the company. There’s got to be a fit in values, so that helps us filter the people we bring on.

When hiring 60 people over two years, you’ll always make a few mistakes. We’ve definitely done more right than we have wrong.

Back in a year, what do you hope to have achieved?

I would love to be speaking at the Summit. If we do what we think we can do, we’ll probably double again in size.

I also hope we’ll have added Pinterest, YouTube, and other major social networks to the platform.

Watch Glow’s Elevator Pitch

Emma Watkinson – Silkfred

Silkfred was in the first series of the Elevator Pitch and is a marketplace for emerging clothing designers.

Since taking part in their pitch, it raised £120,000 through Crowdcube and has been growing rapidly ever since.

Emma Watkinson SilkfredWhat has happened since last year?

For us, the turning point was the crowdfunding campaign. We already had money for the platform but the extra funds meant we could invest in marketing and really tell our story.

The growth in the business has been phenomenal. Sales have been doubling month on month and we have started to build a cult following of customers.

The numbers tell their own story. We sold 100 units in 2013, then sold 100 units in January 2014. We are now selling 100 units per day.

You’ve had to hire quite a few staff. What’s that like?

When the Elevator Pitch happened, we were four – now we’re ten. We tend to attract people who know the brand already.

What I love about my team is that I really feel they are in the trenches with me. If I needed the help of one of my developers in the middle of the night, I know they’d be there to do it.

Back in Dublin in a year, what do you hope will have happened?

We’ll be selling internationally, ideally with people on the ground in different areas.

I hope we’ll also be working with international designers and have an app for brands to manage their inventory.

The brands that are with us now will hopefully still be with us and our platform will have helped them flourish.

Watch Silkfred’s Elevator Pitch