By SUSAN LAHEY
Reporter with Silicon Hills News
In the packed Hilton ballroom, with a large percentage of international attendees (there was a show of hands) Kahoot! was the undisputed favorite among sever Capital Factory companies presenting at a panel of “Austin Goes Global: Best International Startup” companies.
It could have something to do with the fact that voting for the best company was done through a Kahoot! Game where audience members voted one of several responses:
• Interesting, but not my cup of tea
• Intriguing I’ll check out their website
• Fascinating let’s have a meeting
• Love this company and product. I’m in!
Not only did the audience give Kahoot! An overwhelmingly favorable rating as compared to the other companies, but panelists Dawn Winchester, chief digital officer for Publicis, Joel Eriksson Enqvist, investment manager for Nordic venture capital firm Creandum, and John Erskine, vice president of publishing for Cloud Imperium Games also voted that Kahoot! Was the most likely to put Austin on the global map over the next five years.
Other companies that presented included OwnLocal, WPEngine, Re:3D and YouRoam. The criteria for entrants—who were chosen by Capital Factory partners—was a significant global presence. All of the companies have customers in several countries.
Each of the companies said it was important, when expanding into different countries, to build and sustain relationships with their new customers especially—as Kahoot! Founder Johan Brand said—the “heroes” who are responsible for the product getting a lot of traction. In Kahoot!’s case, they carefully watched where their customer base was expanding and swooped in to offer support in those regions.
Lloyd Armbrust, founder of OwnLocal, said maintaining those personal relationships could be a challenge. OwnLocal, which extracts information from print advertisements and converts it into digital marketing campaigns, said it realized it was time to go international in 2015 when it went to a conference in Helsinki, Finland, and people said to him “We want this. We want it now. How can we buy it now?”
The travel is difficult, Armbrust said. Dealing with time zones and exchange rates is more difficult that he would have expected.
Fred Schmidt, Capital Factory’s director of international programs, emceed the event, explaining that Austin is becoming increasingly involved in sister city programs, Creative City and Science City alliances, and what he calls “Global Cool City” alliances.