The Jack-Of-All-Trades Entrepreneur Who Wants To Tame Event Technology
The Jack-Of-All-Trades Entrepreneur Who Wants To Tame Event Technology13-Jun-2016
Eric Kingstad sympathizes both with event planners and suppliers as they attempt to navigate the event-technology landscape. He has a plan to organize the existing terrain in a way that makes it easier for planners to find and purchase technology and gives emerging companies a leg up in a highly competitive market.
Kingstad began his hospitality-industry career with Marriott where he worked first in convention services and later in sales and marketing. After six hotels in twelve years inside the Marriott system, he landed in Portland, Oregon in 1990 as a director of marketing for a 500-room property. Then he got the entrepreneurial itch.
In 1993, Kingstad took $15,000 of “friends and family” money and launched a standalone meeting center for “groups that didn’t require sleeping rooms.” Over the course of sixteen years, he grew the investment into a multimillion-dollar business with five locations across the Pacific Northwest.
Kingstad closed the meeting center business down in 2009 and began consulting with event organizers. His own experience made him uniquely suited to understand the needs of planners and suppliers. “With my business, I found myself wearing a lot of hats. One of the most comfortable hats I wore was dealing with all of the technology systems, the phones, network, and software,” he says.
Today, Kingstad’s event-industry technology consultancy, The Event Guys, works with event planners to help them find the right technology for their meetings and conferences. In the course of that work, he came up with an idea for a web-based resource to simplify the search and vetting of technology providers.
“As I was helping people scout out options, I realized how difficult it was to navigate this exploding landscape. I decided to launch an event-technology guide to help planners ease their pain,” Kingstad explains. The result, Event Tech Guide, is part Product Hunt, part baby (more like an embryo) Amazon.
For planners, the Event Tech Guide features the Marketplace where buyers can search for technology by category, name, features, and functionality. Once they find a product they like, they can compare it to other products or request a quotation. And if they want to learn more, they can click through to the product listing.
The Company Listings pages feature a bit more detail on products, as well as event-tech services or conferences. Planners can also upload a request for proposal to a firm or submit a review. In some cases, they can buy products from companies through the listings—Event Tech Guide offers an ecommerce platform.
Event Tech Guide also helps event planners with integration. Through a partnership with built.io, an Integration as a Service (IaaS) platform, Event Tech Guide offers an integration service that gives planners two options: connect the apps they already have or (for those who want to bundle best-of-breed apps vs. purchase an everything-under-one-roof platform) buy new apps and integrate them.
Besides helping event planners, Kingstad has another passion driving his work on the Event Tech Guide. “I also want to help smaller, emerging companies with great products compete against larger companies,” he says. Hence, he’s built in lots of ways for event-technology companies to get more visibility.
Any company offering technology-related products or services for events can “list” their company or event on the website at no charge on the Company Listings pages. Firms that have webinars, white papers, or other educational content can offer access to them through the Special Promotions & Products area found on the pages.
For a monthly fee, companies seeking more exposure and sales opportunities can purchase an upgraded package of services, including a featured position on various pages throughout the site and in search results. They receive free webinar sponsorship and hosting, in addition to guest blogging opportunities. Featured companies can also launch contests, polls and surveys on the Event Tech Guide site.
The Wild West—the original one—didn’t tame itself. Entrepreneurs built an infrastructure that made it easier to function and enabled others to piggyback on that progress. Back then it was the railroad. Today, it’s the Internet. The event industry would do itself a huge favor to get behind something like Event Tech Guide. It’s an honest and well-grounded approach to organizing the event-tech frontier.