Connect the Dots helps firms create events relevant to their audience

Start-up focuses on pre-event engagement to ensure events meet their potential

"Connect the Dots is a story of being pulled by the market and it started with us noticing a problem – a disconnect," explains sociologist Marisa Denker, who co-founded the company with Naomi Murphy earlier this year.

“We went to many conferences, networking events and talks, but too often we left them feeling disappointed,” she continues. “The events seemed out of touch with what people wanted to hear and talk about. We also found the environments uncomfortable and stiff rather than facilitative and conducive to conversation.

“We wanted to attend events that would really squeeze the most out of the short amount of time available and in our experience many events were not meeting their potential.”

Denker and Murphy quickly discovered they weren’t the only ones experiencing disconnection at events and decided there had to be a more accurate way of matching people and content. For them, the essence of what has now become Connect the Dots lay in developing a methodology that could create genuine interest and engagement with a topic/event whether within a company or in a more public setting.


In a nutshell, Connect the Dots is like market research for events that also provides organisers with actionable insights and ensures a return on the time and money spent.

Insight-driven methodology

The founders first began teasing out their idea in 2014 when they were both studying for an MA in design practice. In December of that year they were ready to run their first test. Using their “people-first, insight-driven methodology,” they organised an event around vacant city space and crowdsourced the content.

“We had a 90 per cent attendance rate, highly engaged attendees and people asking us when the next event would be,” Murphy says. “The events industry is very top down. Our product works to flip that on its head so events are bottom-up and focused on the user or attendee.”

Since then the pilot has morphed into a full-scale start-up backed by Enterprise Ireland, initially through its New Frontiers programme at the Synergy Centre at Tallaght IT, and since the summer under its female founders competitive start fund.

“We have created a SaaS product that enables companies to meaningfully connect to their target audience, bring life to their messages and ultimately accelerate their business objectives,” Murphy says. “We do this for them by eliminating the guesswork from event design. By leveraging attendee insights, we provide pre-event intelligence to companies to ensure an event is engaging, relevant and targeted. The most popular tech trends in this industry right now are audience engagement solutions such as live polling, virtual Q&As and social media walls. We take this a step further by focusing on pre-event engagement rather than just on the event itself.”

Denker says that many organisations waste a great deal of money paying for events (especially those linked to attracting talent) that don’t deliver, largely because they are based on guesswork. “Companies come up with an event idea without consulting their target audience and then hope they will be interested enough to come,” she says.

Potential customers

To date, the Connect the Dots process has been used by a broad mix of private companies and public bodies here including Accenture and the Houses of the Oireachtas. "Our process gives all key stakeholders the chance to air their views beforehand and have a say not just at the consultation but leading up to it," Denker says. "As such they help decide what key issues are focused on and what questions are asked."

Connect the Dots has already run about 40 events for Irish-based clients and discussions are now under way with potential customers in the United States. Enterprise Ireland has backed the venture to the tune of €65,000 and the bootstrapped company has been generating revenue since its launch. The founders’ next task is to oversee the automation and scaling of their process.