How the hospitality leader accelerated a startup for musicians and music venues at VivaTech.

Linkaband is a marketplace for musicians and DJs, and for event organisers booking them to play in bars, hotels, shops or any place people come to listen to music. The company’s co-founders, Filip Langiewicz, Stephane Guilherme Gomes and Martin Zdrzalik, are changing the face of live music by creating an intelligent matchmaking platform based on machine learning.“When we launched Linkaband [in January 2017] we didn’t have a very clear idea of our business model,” says Linkaband’s president Martin Zdrzalik. The initial idea of the Paris-based startup was to serve as a matchmaking service for local bars and rock musicians playing around town. This explains the Linkaband logo: A pint of beer resembling a hand raised in the universal rock ’n’ roll salute. “We went to VivaTech in hopes of finding new types of clients,” Martin recalls, “and AccorHotels was key.”

As a major partner of Viva Technology, AccorHotels had launched an “Open Innovation” challenge in the run-up to VivaTech’s 2017 edition. AccorHotels was looking for ways to attract more locals into its hotels. Linkaband came up with the winning answer: Live music.

Being showcased on the AccorHotels Hospitality Lab at VivaTech gave Linkaband some much-needed visibility at a critical point in the company’s evolution. Linkaband featured prominently on AccorHotels social media, especially after the startup won the AccorHotels pitch contest. The “likes” also flowed through some unexpected channels: a founder of Social Media Week tweeted to his million-plus followers that Linkaband had the best logo at VivaTech.

The visibility was one thing, but the real life-changer for Linkaband was the contact with potential customers and partners. Since those preliminary conversations at VivaTech, Linkaband has signed some 20 clients in the AccorHotels group, and two people from the group have joined Linkaband’s advisory board. Martin and his colleagues also met top-level people from Airbnb and OneFineStay and made promising contacts in the retail sector (Carrefour, Klepierre, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield) and with startup accelerators (TechStars, Partech Shaker).

Aside from the business and the networking, Martin says another major VivaTech takeaway for him was euphoria: “That’s the word for what we felt during three intense days at VivaTech: Euphoria. It’s all very relaxed, friendly, but it’s also huge and so many people are there. We had the feeling we were in a giant cocoon together.”