This was my second time attending IMEX America, and I have to say the show seems to get better and better every year. If you haven't had the opportunity to experience IMEX, I encourage you to give it a try. Besides being one of the least expensive shows to attend (Free!), the community that has developed around the show is phenomenal. Old friends, new friends, and networking-a-go-go.
This year, I had the honor and the privilege of sitting on the judges panel for the first ever IMEX Event Technology Startup Competition, taking place at the end of the first full day of the show. The rest of the panel consisted of Liz King (Liz King Events), Dahlia El Gazzar (The Meeting Pool), Julius Solaris (Event Manager Blog), and Miguel Neves (IMEX Senior Online Community Manager). The winner of the competition was rewarded with a complimentary booth at next year’s IMEX, as well as a full writeup on Julius’ Event Manager Blog.
Each representative from the ten pre-selected startups received precisely two minutes to give their pitch- no easy task unless you’re well practiced in the art of the “elevator pitch”, and while the quality of the pitches varied from polished to a bit fumbley, all of the participants should be commended for having the bravery to stand up for their product and give it their best shot!
Here’s the rundown on the participating startups:
InitLive- InitLive is a mobile app solution for volunteer management. It allows event managers to schedule, communicate with, and track volunteer staff. While many events will rent radios for key personnel, InitLive allows for easy two way communication and management of all staff that have the app installed. A web interface allows changes to the app to be made even at the last minute. More info at initlive.com
GruupMeet- GruupMeet is meeting management software, with an emphasis on collaboration and automation of common tasks. It’s features include monitoring and notification of VIP travel status, attendee ratings and feedback, and allows for an unlimited number of users on each account, to promote maximum collaboration possibilities. More info at gruupmeet.com
Attendify- Attendify describes themselves as an engagement platform, not an event app. It's native, it's branded, and has it’s own private social feed. While many apps now have this capability, Attendify has taken a page from Facebook and Twitter, and created a way for sponsor ads to be placed in line with other posts in the feed. Event setup is a snap, with drag and drop modules on the management portal. More info at attendify.com
PlanningPod- While at first glance PlanningPod appears to be another event management platform, it might be more accurate to call it a suite of tools designed to aid in the entire event planning process. With over 26 tools available, almost every portion of a meeting or event’s lifecycle is covered, including contact and vendor tracking, contracts, and room diagrams, in addition to the more traditional functionality such as calendars, to-do lists, and collaboration tools. More info at planningpod.com
Topi- Topi seeks to solve the problem of the “Who do I know here?” at that opening session or cocktail hour. They’re lofty goal is to create connections for every attendee at an event, so they can connect and network with people easily. Once the attendees have loaded the app and connected various social accounts, Topi tries to find connections for you, shows who’s nearby, and ranks other attendees to help identify the most relevant profiles to you. More info at topi.com
Eversnap- Eversnap is a photo sharing application for events, that attempts to consolidate all photos from an event into a single, shareable, album, no matter what the source. Photos can be taken directly from the app, pulled from relevant hashtags on Instagram or Twitter, added from the phone’s camera roll, uploaded from a web portal, even emailed directly to the album. They’re planning on adding the ability to hire freelance photographers through the service as well. More info at geteversnap.com
CrowdMics- I've been keeping my eyes on CrowdMics for a while now since they first came on the scene early this year, so it’s good to see them marching forward. CrowdMics is a mobile phone app that allows participants to talk directly into their phones for Q&A sessions, rather than waiting for a handheld mic to be passed around or run to them. Easy push to talk technology is combined with basic polling and text messaging capabilities, and the newest version has almost no latency (delay). They definitely struck a chord with the audience, which voted them as the top tech. More info at crowdmics.com
Sli.do- Slido is an event app designed around audience participation. It’s web based, so there’s no app to download, reducing the barrier of entry. Attendees can enter their questions directly, with their name or anonymously, as well as participate in polling. Questions can be moderated before displaying in the room, and they’re developing a Google Glass app for presenters to view the questions in their Glass privately. More info at sli.do
SpeakerSponsor- With seemingly more and more conferences choosing not to pay their speakers, SpeakerSponsor tries to connect speakers, with sponsors. Get it? I kind of like it when company names reflect what they do. The idea is that if you’re speaking (for free) to a certain target market, SpeakerSponsor will attempt to pair you with a sponsor that might want to get their message in front of that audience. You get paid, they get targeted impressions, win-win! More info at speakersponsor.com
Speecheo- Speecheo is a very intriguing app, designed to help attendees keep their notes, highlights, likes and dislikes regarding a presentation all in one place. Presentation slides are viewable within the app, and attendees can bookmark a moment in time, then go back and look at that part of the presentation later. The platform tracks all those data points, combined with the Twitter feed of the event, and organizes that information for the presenter’s analysis. Presenters can even followup with attendees post event using that data. The judges all agreed that there was a tremendous potential for both attendees and presenters, and voted it the winner of the competition. More info at speecheo.com, and a detailed writeup at The Event Manager Blog.
The Startup Competition was a great way to get some of the most creative and innovative new event technology companies together in one place, and I hope it becomes a tradition at IMEX for a long time to come!
For more recaps of the competition check out: