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Bizzabo news | 21 April 2016

Bizzabo CMO Explains Plan To Disrupt Event Industry

David Epstein

On April 18th, the CMO of Bizzabo sat down with Techsytalk organizers Liz King and Ed Wagaba to talk about Alroy’s experience leading an award winning event technology company from inception in 2011 to today.

Here are a few highlights from that interview, with links to some resources mentioned during the 30-minute talk.

How did you get started in all of this? Have you always been passionate about the events industry? 

Originally, we started on a venture much like Airbnb. After attending many networking events while developing our first startup, we decided that the meetings industry was a market that was behind in terms of innovation. When we saw this it made us want to take advantage of the opportunity to make a real impact on a market in need of innovation.

There’s a lot of room for disruption in our market. There are so many industries that were disrupted in the past couple of years. Uber disrupted transportation, Airbnb disrupted hospitality, LinkedIn disrupted how we look for jobs. I think the events and meeting industry is about to be disrupted as well. We are happy to be a part of the movers and shakers that are doing that.

What’s your vision for the events industry?

That’s something we ask ourselves everyday. Why are we working so hard? The vision that gets us excited is to make events more successful and rewarding for people who attend them, organize them, and sponsor them. In a few years, Bizzabo will be a name associated with making events more impactful and more rewarding. It’s about understanding what drives success and building a product that helps you achieve that. We’ll make professional events better, around the world.

What are some of the biggest challenges for event planners in your opinion?

Being an event planner is one of the top 5 most stressful jobs in the world – so there are many challenges.

We did an internal survey last month about the big pains that customers want to improve. One pain point we identified is to make sure that people are actually attending your event. If you don’t have a full house, the rest doesn’t matter. So first and foremost our goal is filling out the room by creating an awesome event registration experience for organizers.

We also aim to make organizers more productive in order to focus on their event’s success and not on simply managing the event.

That’s why I like to call Bizzabo “event success software.” We’re in a category called “event management software,” but that’s not what it’s about. People are focused on the tools, when it’s really about empowering organizers to be more successful at their jobs.

We see that planners aren’t empowered with data in order to make better decisions. Our goal is to provide event planners with the data they need in order to make decisions that help them create more successful events. Event management is just one part of what we do.

Lastly, we are interested in improving the event experience. We want to help planners create that “wow factor” at an event. To make sure people are engaged with the audience, each other and with the experience they are trying to create.

Walk us through the process of incorporating event management into an event app solution. How did Bizzabo become so good at event management?

What eventually helped us to decide to move into the event management space was what we learned from our customers. We understand that everything is about the customer, and we constantly ask for feedback and for customer opinions. We became expert listeners.

We realized that customers can run an event without a mobile app, but they cannot run an event without an “operating system.” We realized that we needed to make something that isn’t a nice to have, we needed to build something that is a must have.

The bread and butter of an event isn’t an app, though it can be part of the factors that affect event success. As a company we wanted to solve a bigger problem. Our team understood that if we’re trying to disrupt the industry (and we are), some things need to change.

To go through such big changes and challenges you need to have the best team out there. In the end, people build products, people sell, people help other event planners. By having the smartest people, we knew we could build something amazing together. It’s very exciting and a lot of fun.

You have an international team. What can you share with listeners about recruiting and assembling a team?

I’m not sure we have enough time to cover all of the lessons learned. We are an international company, our R&D and Product teams are in Israel. The business side of things (Sales, Marketing and Customer Success) are in New York City.

We understand that working on different continents is a challenge. We talk a lot, and thanks to technology we communicate as though we are in the same room.

We have a unique way of building the same culture between different offices. First we have our own language. We incorporate the word “Bizza” into everything – we have “Bizzavideos” and “Bizzatalks.” During those talks we share what we learned with one another every two weeks.

We also learned how to take advantage of our multiple locations. Because of the time zone difference, we offer (almost) 24/7 support to our customers, for example.

You mentioned our recruiting; we look for candidates that have a spark of excellence, because we want to disrupt an entire industry, we need a team of people who push themselves to do hard things. We have people who are marathon runners, stand-up comedians, graduates from elite Universities with advanced degrees, people who have worked at NASA, people who speak multiple languages. It’s all about the people.

We look for people who have a history of striving for excellence, and that helps us to maintain and grow our unique culture.

Why have R&D in Israel and other departments in New York City?

We started as an Israeli company, there’s amazing tech and product talent in Israel. But we told ourselves that we wanted to solve a global problem, and we decided that New York would be the best place for us.

So I took my suitcase to New York and here I am, and it’s highly recommended.

What are some of your passions outside of Bizzabo?
I love to travel, I’ve been to more than 50 countries. I love to go scuba diving, and camping, anything involving the outdoors and experiencing nature are things I enjoy.

Do you have any event horror stories?

I’m sure that running a tech company is like planning event. That’s why I love event planners because they are great at facing uncertainty, and that’s what creating a tech company is like.

There were many times when things that looked like they would happen, ended up falling through. So now we know that we need to be good at handling uncertainty, not to rely on things until they actually happen, and to be optimistic and hopeful no matter what happens.

Are you someone who reads a lot? Can you recommend a book for listeners to read?

These days I find myself unfortunately reading more blogs than books. But I would recommend reading The Hard Things About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz. It’s a book about what to do when there are no easy answers. I think it’s an awesome book for anyone in a managerial role.

Want to learn more about event technology? Download The Quick And Dirty Event Tech Checklist by clicking the button below!

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