PheedLoop's CEO Discusses Changemakers

Hey Changemakers,

Rahul here, I’m taking over the blog for today to talk about our user conference last week and share some insight, data, and product updates with you all that I personally worked on over the long weekend thanks to your awesome feedback. I’ll also share my thoughts on hybrid events (or more specifically, the future of events).

Let’s start by saying the obvious - that was an absolutely fantastic event. We had over 1,000 customers attend throughout the day, peaking at 700 all at once. Beyond the PheedLoop product itself, our community of customers is truly special and unlike anything I’ve seen anywhere else. I think that comes down to how closely tied our team at PheedLoop is with all of you and your goals - as I mentioned in my keynote, we are proud to say that our only stakeholders are you, our customers.

We have never been burdened by trying to please investors or anyone else because we are an independent company powered by our customers, on the simple mission to provide the best event technology at the lowest price. This, coupled with radical commitments to pricing transparency, daily product updates, a convincing product vision, and empathetic customer support. We have aggressive plans to double down further on these points in the coming months.

A special thank you to all our incredible speakers, exhibitors, partners, and the whole PheedLoop team for making this possible. We'll see you all again on June 30th for our Q2 2021 user conference, Pathfinders. Here's a collage of just a few of the selfies you all took using the beta release of our new photo booth. I'm still shocked by how, among everything we released, the feature we thought was just a gimmick turned out to be among the most popular. Our customers never fail to amaze me.

Product Reveals Summary

Our quarterly user conferences are an opportunity for us to meet with all of you, allow you to meet each other, showcase products that are right around the corner, promote our closest partners, invite industry experts, and perhaps most importantly, take in your feedback.

We were proud to announce several new products like advanced real-time analytics, automated matchmaking, exhibit hall floor plan design tool, photobooths, autopilot mode for streams, DIY badge design and printing tool, real-time donations, PheedLoop Go! (our brand new native mobile event app for hybrid events), and so much more. Everything is either live now or will be live in just a few days (end of April for PheedLoop Go!).

Funds Raised for Ovarian Cancer - $8,000

This time around, we demonstrated one of our many new features to collect real-time donations for a cause that is close to my heart. Thanks to you all, we successfully raised $3,285, and as promised, we’ll match that amount, plus we’re adding to the pool for everyone who registered for the event. We are incredibly grateful and proud, thanks to all of you, to be donating $8,000 (USD) towards fighting ovarian cancer and supporting women, and this amount will be donated directly to the World Ovarian Cancer Coalition and Ovarian Cancer Canada. Read more about PheedLoop Cares.

Long Weekend Product Update Blitz

One of the sessions I enjoyed the most was the last one - the CEO Ask-Me-Anything session where 500 of you showed up and peppered me with requests, feedback, ideas, and gratitude (which was extremely generous of you all). Our team at PheedLoop is fantastic and unique beyond words, but as many of you know, I am an engineer and am deeply committed to our product more than anything else. Sometimes I just like to sit down and code, so that’s what I did over the weekend. I was so inspired by that session and your feedback that I took the long weekend to pump out 20 small new features, tweaks, fixes, etc. based on your feedback that I think you all may enjoy. Here’s the list:

  1. Multiple Experience Admins - Organization team members (added under your Team Members tab in your account) are now treated as event admins in experience portals (e.g. mobile event app with the launch of PheedLoop Go!, virtual event, etc.). This allows your wider team access to functions like managing chats, streams, and more.
  2. Chat Boxes - User experience for the context-aware chat input box has been improved to grow more intuitively with the text you type in
  3. Full-Screen Meetings - Full-screen mode has been added to PheedLoop Meet (our live audio/video calling tool) for exhibit hall “Join Live” and for group networking rooms
  4. New Speaker Section - A brand new section has been added to the virtual event portal specifically, dedicated to speaker information
  5. New 2GB Upload Limit - Upload & Stream (PheedLoop’s free unlimited pre-recorded content streaming service) has the per session file size limit of 1GB upgraded to 2GB
  6. Lead Capture Notifications - Email notifications are now sent to exhibitors alerting the primary contact and its managers every time a new lead is captured either on-site via badge scanning or virtually via the request information function
  7. Matchmaking Algorithm - Although still in beta (will be released officially later this month), the automated matchmaking algorithm has been improved to load matches a lot faster (feel free to dip back into Changemakers to try this out)
  8. Chat Report Fix - Fixed the issue with the session and exhibitor chat reports not being sorted chronologically
  9. Error Notification - Improved the error notification for attendees who experience network issues or restrictions to help reduce the support questions event managers receive
  10. Donation Widget Adjustments - Added more built-in details to the donation widget (e.g. currency information), note that you can customize the welcome text to whatever you like already
  11. Gamification Points Display - Fixed the issue with the gamification point display for point accumulations past 1,000 (though this does not affect the actual points earned)
  12. Private Message Styling - New styling for private message conversations allows chat messages to be colored, threaded, and aligned to flow more elegantly
  13. Chat Event Admin Labels - New “Event Admin” tags have been added to the context-aware chat areas (e.g. lobby, sessions, exhibits, groups) whenever an organization team member account posts (this is coupled with the update allowing multiple admins)
  14. Chat Location Admin Labels - New “Speaker” and “Exhibitor” tags have been added for each of their respective sessions and exhibit booths to their chat messages in their public chat areas to better highlight when a context-specific admin is posting
  15. 3D Exhibit Hall Efficiency - Improvements have been made to presence tracking in the 3D exhibit hall to better match who is actually live at the exhibit booth at any given time (higher frequency and consistency)
  16. Photo Booth Prevent Blanks - Although still in beta (will be released officially next week), the user experience for the new photo booth feature has been improved to better prevent attendees from capturing blank selfies
  17. Chat Message Length - Public chat area message length limit increased from 250 characters to 500 characters
  18. Custom Email Banner Images - New design setting added for events allowing for a custom email banner image to be set to override the default logo from showing in email headers
  19. Mobile Responsiveness Improvements - For events not using the mobile event app because they are a fully virtual event, the virtual event portal’s mobile design and responsiveness has been significantly improved
  20. Button Vs. Label - Buttons and labels are easier to distinguish now, preventing user errors and support requests from attendees trying to click something unclickable

Our team is working to release far bigger and more exciting features than these small tweaks and fixes I’ve worked on, but hopefully, you enjoy these too. I’m looking forward to more heart-to-heart conversations with you all and will continue to give PheedLoop everything I have because I truly believe event planners deserve better. It pains me to see events having to settle for mediocre products due to budget constraints, or spend a fortune on a premium product that doesn't turn out to be everything that was promised. PheedLoop is a product and brand that’s meant for everyone, period.

The best way to reach me if you want to chat about anything is via Linkedin, so feel free to drop me a note there.

Hybrid? Cool. Community? Way Cooler.

I ran a session about hybrid events and PheedLoop, and talked about the myriad of products we offer for on-site events from staffing and on-site badge printing, to streaming, check-in kiosks, and more. I touched briefly on hybrid events as well, talking about how we believe what event tech companies may tout as innovative (e.g. video calling between virtual and on-site attendees, streaming to your phone, etc.) are table stake features. No one (including us) should get points for doing the bare minimum. It breeds mediocrity and stunts innovation, especially when industry leaders who have the means and the resources to do so much more, do so little.

We believe hybrid events are 80% marketing hype and a term that's being appropriated to sell more repackaged products, and only 20% reality. The fact is, the “pivot” to hybrid isn’t going to be the same as the pivot to virtual. Hybrid will mean something different to everyone.

The truth is, there are going to be some products required for virtual, some for on-site, and a limited obvious set of features for hybrid events that join the two audiences together. We’re not the company that’s going to chase after the fabled solution that will perfectly harmonize the event experience for virtual and on-site attendees - simply because it may not exist, or may not even be necessary. We’ll have innovative products and features for sure, but our bet for what the future of events looks like is not going to be strictly limited to bridging the real-time gap between virtual and on-site attendees. That is a myopic view of the much greater potential the future of events has in store for us.

So what is our focus going to be on? It’s going to be on transforming PheedLoop, at least on the engagement side, from event engagement to community engagement.

We believe virtual events allow organizations to engage their audiences year-round, and on-site events provide the opportunity for them to come together once or twice a year in person and strengthen those connections they developed virtually. Hybrid events shouldn’t mean that your attendees are forced to choose to attend your events virtually or physically. Why not virtually and physically? This may even mean your hybrid event strategy results in not running a virtual component to your on-site event or vice versa, with each format offering completely different, independent, but complementary experiences for different segments of a larger community.

Driving community engagement also doesn't mean creating a new social network and hoping people use it over the likes of Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin. There are fantastic social networks that already exist. The thing to realize that often gets lost in the event tech discourse is that there is a massive set of problems to solve for event managers, not just attendees. Most event tech platforms are marketed and sold for their attendee facing features, which is really just the tip of the iceberg. Our work has always focused heavily on event management, and will focus even more so on the community management front to help event managers better understand, organize, and grow their communities on multiple platforms and manage membership. We will also create simple ways to engage their community members that won't involve trying to pry people off existing social/community platforms - the chance of failure is very high.

Although we can’t reveal too much about how we’re transforming PheedLoop over the coming months for this exciting new future, know that we’re going to create an experience that transcends the opaque ideas about hybrid events to offer something much, much greater and more sustainable.

On-Demand Access & Next Event on June 30th

The entire event is now available on-demand, so we encourage you to go in and explore anything you missed. If you missed registering entirely, you’re welcome to do so by visiting this link.

We also invite you to our Q2 2021 user conference, PheedLoop Pathfinders, happening on June 30th. We’ll open registration up in June, so stay tuned.

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