360 Live Media
360 Live Media is an event strategy and digital marketing agency in Washington, D.C. serving association, professional society, and not-for-profit conferences.
360 A Big Win For AUVSIs Xponential

A $15,000 Prize and a Big Win for AUVSI’s XPONENTIAL

If you have an annual event, you know how important it is to engage your audience in new and innovative ways. Designing customized events that reflect your understanding of their interests and needs goes a long way toward driving long-term engagement.


The 360 Live Media team designed a new “event within an event” for our client—the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) to attract and engage new attendees in the commercial unmanned systems space. We designed Startup Showdown—a showcase for early-stage entrepreneurs who are creating, innovating and enhancing unmanned systems technologies and applications. This event premiered at XPONENTIAL, AUVSI’s annual conference, and was a must-attend event for investors, unmanned systems entrepreneurs and technology innovators.


The Goal
The most successful events have a stated objective, and a clear definition of success. For AUVSI, the launch of the Startup Showdown represents an investment in a new segment of attendees—startup founders and private investors.


With their new brand launch in 2015, AUVSI solidified their unique position at the intersection of commercial and defense unmanned systems applications. They established three goals for the impact XPONENTIAL should have on its participants:


  • Increase knowledge about the future of unmanned systems policy and regulations to ensure implementation of the best solutions.
  • Drive professional networking by gathering industry peers from around the world who can provide fresh perspectives and insights for career advancement.
  • Showcase the latest technology, from hundreds of innovative companies.


The Startup Showdown is a press-worthy event platform to gather the key players driving advances in technologies across the unmanned systems market and highlights industry innovations.


The Process
In just 60 days, a taskforce of AUVSI and 360 Live Media team members identified four judges, finalized a sponsored cash prize from the Commercial Drone Fund, and designed an engagement strategy for prospective applicants.


AUVSI announced the launch of the Startup Showdown in a press release and through targeted communications to industry influencers in late fall of 2015. They invited early-stage entrepreneurs to submit a 500-word application through a dedicated web portal.


The panel of judges reviewed the applications and narrowed the pool down to 15 startups, who were invited to join AUVSI at XPONENTIAL. Their participation included a booth in a dedicated Startup Pavilion, three complimentary EXPO Hall passes, and invitations to the First-Time Attendees Welcome Reception.


The Result
At the final tally, over 75 startup founders applied to participate, 15 were invited to attend XPONENTIAL in New Orleans, and three were left standing after the knock-out round. In front of hundreds of attendees, the three finalists presented, pitching their business model, customer acquisition strategy and plans for future growth. After 20 minutes of deliberation, Vanilla Aircraft was crowned the winner. Co-founder Jeremy Novara was presented with a $15,000 check on stage, and was spotted celebrating at AUVSI’s The Mix later that evening!


The AUVSI team had a great deal to celebrate as well—a high-energy audience, social media engagement and press attention for the event and the unmanned systems industry at large, and a proven new platform to attract and educate commercial attendees.


If you’re looking to engage a new audience or highlight new technologies, a competition like the Startup Showdown might be just the solution you need. Interested in creating your own customized experience for your upcoming event? We’d love to hear from you!