Advvy’s co-founders Chris Macaulay and Tristan Ozinga did not suspect that attending their first Microsoft Inspire in Las Vegas in 2017 would set them on course for huge global success.

As they stood at a crossroad for their business, there were a few simple facts at play. They didn’t know what to expect. They were down to their last dollars. And they knew a lot was riding on what was about to happen.

“It was a big gamble for us. We put some of our last money on the line to go to Inspire”, Chris reminisced. “Over the course of one week, Inspire changed EVERYTHING for our business.”

Behind every successful gamble, there is an element of luck. For the Advvy team, this came in the form of Microsoft’s new One Commercial Partner model. Microsoft had an increased focus on business applications, data and AI; and there was Advvy with a compelling business application cloud platform at the ready.

Chris and Tristan had founded their start-up to solve the frustrations of media and advertising agencies. Having worked in the industry themselves, the goal was to help agencies work smarter internally, and better with their clients and suppliers, by providing media and advertising workflow and productivity solutions.

So as Microsoft Inspire unfolded, word spread about Advvy’s solutions and the ever elusive “buzz” started to hum through the right channels. Networking and meetings ensued, and Microsoft placed a bet of their own. Turned out it was the best kind of bet one of the biggest technology companies in the world can make on your start-up – it bet on Advvy’s success.

Microsoft, like Advvy were familiar with the same frustrations for the media and advertising industry. They were also talking with clients (big ones) all over the world about how to partner on better workflows. And so, the offer to open doors was extended to the Advvy team.

With a Partner Development Manager on-board, a global tour started across London, Paris and New York with global decision makers at some of the largest companies in their industry. Ultimately, with the company landing a large contract with one of the largest global media agencies.

“It was amazing to have that kind of credibility of Microsoft walking us into the door,” Chris shared. “It was like they were saying: ‘Hi, Mr. CIO, we have been talking to you about workflow and digital transformation and Dynamics 365, here is Advvy and they do EXACTLY that for your industry.’ Having that kind of credibility was huge for us.”

The tour was filmed, and you can watch the engaging series ‘Behind the Brief’ to learn more. It delivered some brilliant opportunities, and more followed including presenting to Satya Nadella and Microsoft’s senior leadership team in Redmond. Chris and Tristan credit Microsoft Inspire 2017 for skyrocketing them into these opportunities, and so it was a mix of humility, pride and pure excitement that followed them through the door as they arrived at the 2018 conference.

And yes, this time around was a little different. People knocked on their door. So often in fact that the week disappeared in a whirlwind. Of course, there were a few other reasons for that. Amongst the networking frenzy, the team had multiple speaking engagements in keynotes and core notes, met with Microsoft’s Chief Marketing Officer, and threw together a huge pitch on the side. They may have also contemplated getting Advvy tattoos, but that’s another story.

It was clear that Advvy had flipped the script. This was no fairytale ending, it was a fairytale beginning. Advvy won the 2018 Microsoft Global Partner of the Year – Media and Communications Award, just 12 short months after standing at a crossroad wondering what on earth was going to happen.

Now, two years on from that first Microsoft Inspire experience, Chris and Tristan are proud to be co-founders of a successful global company, with an office in New York and one soon to open in London. They are looking forward to heading back this July to the launchpad that started it all and Chris has some advice for those companies still not sure if Microsoft Inspire is worth the gamble:

“Just give it a shot! It’s a huge return on investment.”

Once upon a time indeed.


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