Will Bizzabo Solve Conference Networking Frustration?
Anyone who’s ever been to business events and conferences knows how hard it is to network and schmooze. How do you find the one person you need in a room full of people?
Business people tell me they always spend tons of money, time and effort into attending conferences and events that so often end up being a waste because they fail to make the right connections.
On the other hand, event organizers often have a hard time understanding what kind of people are attending. Who is the real networker likely to make it a great event for everyone and who is the random guy or gal attending just because they happen to be in town and have nothing better to do?
That’s where Bizzabo comes in. The Israeli startup helps professionals discover new business opportunities at conferences and enables event organizers to engage more effectively with their attendees.
The company’s most recent development is a free self-service web interface for event organizers, which allows them to create an event and manage networking features and data analysis. (Delighting event organisers in this way is the key to their distribution strategy, because a happy event organizer will promote the app to all the attendees.)
Last month, Bizzabo officially launched its free iPhone and Android apps for event attendees. Their solution enables event participants to discover people of interest who are also attending the event, and connects them to relevant contacts. The app cross references users’ LinkedIn profiles and recommends who will be the most beneficial contact based on it.
“Currently, organizers often make independent white-label apps for each event, but that means attendees have to download a new app for every event they go to, leaving their phone cluttered with outdated apps,” says co-founder and CEO Eran Ben Shushan. “Bizzabo aims to be the standard networking app for all business events. Event goers use Bizzabo to discover relevant events, discover people at those events and most importantly – build strong and beneficial relationships.”
Targeting both participants and organizers
While attendees can use the mobile application to discover and engage with new business partners, event organizers can benefit from improved communication with attendees, analytical tools and also a new revenue stream.
Ben Shushan says: “Every past attempt that failed, failed because it only had one part of the equation. It targeted either organizers or attendees. While in the future we do intend to encourage the app to be more viral and allow all community of users to capitalize Bizzabo for any event they wish, we are highly committed to the concept that the app should apply to organizers, presenters and participants all together.”
As attendees, the first step is checking into an event. The app then brings up a branded page containing the event’s community, agenda and “buzz” – event tweets and discussions. From there, they can browse through in-depth profiles of other attendees and mark who they would like to meet with as possible “opportunities.”
The application also has its own messaging system, which allows people to communicate directly before, during and after the event. The app keeps a database of people each user met at each event, to help keep the networking easy.
Event organizers can also communicate in real-time with all attendees at once, allowing them to send announcements and keep track of the social buzz. “One of our main advantages is that organizers can take their event social and mobile in less than five minutes,” says Ben Shushan.
Bizzabo’s “Offers”, available for iPhone users only, allows exhibitors or sponsors to create Groupon type offers and generate business leads.
The company is currently focused on growing its user base of organizers and attendees and plans to monetize by offering premium features and help organizers generate more revenues out of its platform.
Analyzing the event
According to the founders, Eran Ben Shushan, Alon Alroy and Boaz Katz – all alumni of the Sam Zell Entrepreneurship Program at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya – Bizzabo will also launch a web interface application for event organizers that gives analytics and polling features after the events.
With the new feature, organizers will have administrator accounts to manage the data. “Event organizers put a lot of money and effort into events, but at the end of the day, they don’t really know what happened there — what people liked, disliked, who the opinion leaders were, etc. We provide all of this data for them, to plan future events with,” says Ben Shushan.
Bizzabo was already picked up by major international conferences such as MLOVE ConFestival in Berlin, the NOAH Internet Conference in San Francisco and telecom conference Uplinq, by the telecom giant Qualcomm.
Founded in 2011 Bizzabo is seed funded by angel investors and Jeff Pulver, the serial entrepreneur and founder of ’140 Conf’ event series.