The Agora Group, led by Hadi Malaeb, has run two specialist investor blockchain conferences in Dubai, raising more than $100 million for its clients. The Agora group was only founded in February of last year with a view to connect blockchain projects with Arab money. The two conferences were run in September 2018 and December 2018 and were titled the Global Blockchain Congress.
Hadi created a conference format that is unlike any other. Normal KPIs for successful conferences tended to include number of people attending, high profile speakers and lots of noise about the event. What is not mentioned that very few deals are done at these high profile conferences. And the audience tends to be passive, listening to speaker after speaker but not actually cutting any deals.
“I wanted to create quite the opposite,” he says. “I was going to set up a sales conference where the ultimate aim was ICOs to find investors and vice versa.”
To that end, he only invited CEO level executives in the investor community. He charged them nothing but he warned them that they would be pitched all day.
“These executives cost us a huge amount of money putting them up in the best hotels and minding them. We would not make a single souk from them. However, they were the reason we could then turn to ICOs and ask them to attend.”
Typically Hadi wanted to run an event with only 150 people, which his first event in September 2018 achieved. There were 31 ICOs attending. The ICOs paid between $10,000 and $25,000 to sponsor the event.
Hadi is very transparent about the sponsorship, cost and aim of his event. “I want the ICOs to have a tangible return. I wanted them to raise money.”
Accordingly, each ICO has given a team member in support who ensured they made all their meetings and kept to the strict schedule. Even if a pitch was going swimmingly, time was called and the ICO went onto the next meeting.
It proved very successful. 17 out of the 31 ICOs raised $78million between them. This transparency is part of the reason why Hadi and his conferences are in now in demand.
The second conference held in December 2018 raised a further $30million.
Still, despite or perhaps because of the great success of his original conference, Hadi added in another aspect.
“While ICOs need funding, they also need to find buyers for their tech. This is especially true in the enterprise sector where projects looking to solve issues for large corporates or public entities need customers.
“Such is the interest in adopting new technologies that we have attracted major organisations looking to find strong projects. And for some ICOs a good customer is better than a pure investor.”
Dubai is at the heart of the blockchain phenomenon. The Dubai Blockchain Strategy, launched by His Highness Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan, was the result of collaboration between the Smart Dubai Office and the Dubai Future Foundation with the mission to continuously explore and evaluate the latest technology innovations in an effort to further improve the lifestyle of the city’s residents. The strategy’s aim is to give an economic edge to all sectors and position Dubai as a leader in global technology
For more information please visit the Agora website
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