Startup changes the business conference game for the better
A Q&A with Bizzabo co-founder Alon Alroy.
If social anxiety makes you dread special events and business conferences because past experiences have been awkward and overwhelming, an Israeli startup might have a solution. Bizzabo was established with one goal in mind – to change the face of event planning. It’s a business-minded app that takes many of the hassles associated with networking, organizing and marketing events and wraps them all into a tight, comfortable package.
In an exclusive interview with From the Grapevine, Bizzabo co-founder Alon Alroy explains how the idea was born and how it's helped thousands of people make crucial business connections.
From the Grapevine: What were your goals in developing Bizzabo?
Alon Alroy: Bizzabo was conceived as a solution to the out-of-date, stressful conference experience. We wanted a way to help attendees network and meet the right people, while giving event organizers a way to inform and communicate with their attendees in a way that could finally escape the monotony of print agendas and informational pamphlets. The idea that conferences and events could be truly engaging, social and technologically forward exhilarated us. In a nutshell, we wanted to make professional events more successful and impactful.
How did you come up with the concept?
My co-founders and I had been attending a great number of events and conferences while working on other startups. Dealing with the clutter of papers, the stress of needing to find and meet the right people, and the general chaos of it all just seemed not right. It seemed like there could be a much better way of going about it. We ditched the idea of the previous startups and decided to just build it and make the event experience more successful.
There are other companies out there that claim similar benefits to Bizzabo. How is your app different from them?
Most other apps and platforms out there require a great amount of time and money to be invested in their creation. Therefore, only "the big guys" can afford to have an event app. Bizzabo, as a multi-event app platform, is a self-service solution that allows any event organizer in the world to socialize and mobilize their event, in under five minutes, at a very friendly price. This makes Bizzabo more scalable than any other solution. In addition, our product wins because of its user experience. We build our features from the bottom up by listening to our users and customers to make sure it is sleek, beautiful and solves a real problem.
Does Bizzabo require any training for users once they’ve downloaded it, or is it pretty self-explanatory?
Part of what’s so great about a multi-event app is that through our time being used as the event app for more than 4,000 conferences, we’ve gotten a great deal of attendee and organizer feedback, which has helped our user experience become what it is today. So in short, no training is required – the app is clean, clear and very easy to use.
Say I’m attending a conference for the first time, and I’m immediately overwhelmed and stressed. What advice would you give me?
Preparation is key! Nobody does well in such an overwhelming environment without sitting down and prepping a little first. This means checking the agenda beforehand, selecting your can’t-miss sessions, joining the event app or networking platform and seeing who’s going to be there, and then also reaching out to people you want to meet to schedule brief meetups at the event itself.
On the flip side, say I’m a new event-planning employee and I’m in charge of organizing a conference. How would you guide me?
Time management is usually your biggest concern. Understanding the event goals will help you prioritize your tasks, choose the right vendors to work with and measure success.
For many conference attendees, the biggest hassle is paper. Folders are overflowing with information from different sessions, which would take hours to sort out, and before the trip home, it usually goes in the trash. How does your app solve this?
I agree – conference packets, pamphlets, booklets, etc. are out of control! It only makes sense that conferences follow the rest of the world and move away from paper to digital. Bizzabo lets organizers easily make this transition by having a platform where all the information – that was originally on pamphlets – can be stored. All the important event information, agenda, sponsor and exhibitor lists can be found right on the app. Plus, making your event information mobile has the added bonus of easily being updated or edited last-minute.
Is this app helpful for people who are uncomfortable in big crowds or have social anxiety?
This is exactly one of the needs that Bizzabo aims to satisfy. When it comes to professional networking, it doesn’t really matter how outgoing of a person you are, it will always feel just plain awkward. Bizzabo helps remove the aspect of networking spent bumbling around reading name tags – it gives conference-goers the opportunity to see who will be at the event and schedule meetings with those they want to meet, all on their own terms. In this sense, networking can then be more efficient, valuable and way less uncomfortable.
Bizzabo staff framed by an Instagram poster. (Photo: Bizzabo)
You say in your video (below) that failure is not a bad thing; it only helps you grow and learn and become better. Can you give some examples of times that you’ve failed and how you’ve overcome them?
One example of a "failure" is when we miss our monthly goals. If you keep aiming high, sometimes you miss your goals and "fail." We have a culture of debriefing and reviewing everything we do. I believe that failing only brings you closer to success, so whenever we "fail," we have an opportunity to test ourselves and decide what needs to be done to get better.
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