I thought it was worth telling the story about my one sponsorship deal we did in 1999. Just for background Orbital was funded initially in 1997 and by 1998 we were beginning to see the height of the dotcom boom.
To raise our profile and get more in with the valley investors we decided to sponsor an event at the Red Herring NDA conference. This was well attended by VCs and at the cost of $50,000 was quite a spend for a little company from Edinburgh. We agreed with the shows producers that we would have a whisky tasting using Scotch Malt Whisky Society cask strength spirits. Having spent our entire budget on the actual sponsorship we flew the whisky over with members of the team all carrying 2 bottles each and clinked our way to the conference.
On arrival we were shown into a room which could only be described as a large magnolia box with nothing in it apart from some undressed tables. At this point we nearly died and decided to take a look at some of our co-sponsors rooms. We then discovered that a number of companies (specifically e-learning companies) were launching at the event and had a budget of over $1m for the event alone. They had stylists, room dressers, walkie talkies – and we were so doomed at this stage!
After whining a lot to the conference organisers they showed us into the time share room where the pushy sales staff sold dreams. This was ideal leather sofas, rugs and the feel of an cigar club!
We had little or no knowledge of whisky but after attending the launch party for the dotcom we persuaded everyone to have an “after party” and free poured the whisky. Everyone loved it, drank and chatted into the night.
Next mornings keynote address by a little known John Chambers, then CEO of Cisco was not that we’ll attended and those who did attend certainly were nursing a proper Scottish hangover!!