We had the chance to chat with Ian Gott, CEO of ZenAlpha — a brand new platform for event planners. The application is “free for life” for those that sign up whilst the application is in launch phase. Check out what he has to say about ZenAlpha:
1. Why and when did your company get started? What was the inspiration?
ZenAlpha was started 2013, but we have only just launched the first application: Collaborative Event Planning.
My co-founder and I built an enterprise software business from a start up in a bedroom and grew to be a global player in BPM. Running awesome events was one of the largest marketing expenses, but it was critical to building a massively loyal customer base. But there were no tools around to help our event team. Everything revolved around emails, spreadsheets and burning the midnight oil. But I also spent time as a keynote speaker on the conference circuit so I saw a huge number of events as a speaker and sponsor. I saw that for even the largest event organizers it was no different.
When we sold the business last year, we started looking at industries that were ripe for disruption and were global. The event management business was the obvious choice. But the event planning application we have just launched is just the start.
2. How did you come up with the ‘name’ and concept – what’s the story behind the name?
What we wanted to achieve for event professionals – event managers and agencies – was a feeling of calm, being in control, relaxed yet focused when they were planning and executing events. And one short word encapsulated all of this: ZEN.
Picking a name for a company is not easy. Particularly when you want to build an organisation that has longevity. Therefore you don’t know where it will take you, so the name cannot be too trendy as trends change, nor can it be too specific as market demands change. And with so many event agencies out there, every memorable name with the word “event” in it has already been taken.
The intelligent application of cloud and mobile based technology, harnessing the collective social power of everyone involved in events and the enormous amounts of data that are being generated, can transform the event experience- for everyone involved; organizers, delegates, sponsors, exhibitors, speakers and suppliers. But in a way where great events seem effortless.
That is Zen. That is ZenAlpha.
3. What is your “big innovation?” What’s the coolest features of your tech?
It is built specifically with the event professional in mind. And it is elegant, drawing on the best from consumer apps, whether it is viewed on a laptop, tablet or smart phone. Finally, a feature that no one can see but critically important. The application was carefully architected so it is enterprise ready – so robust, secure, scalable, multi-lingual and multi-currency from day 1. It was not hacked together by a couple of geeks fuelled by pizza and Red Bull. Sure it took longer to build and cost a lot more to bring to market. But it does mean that we can build additional features more quickly now and there isn’t the risk that we will have to rebuild it in 6 months.
4. How does your technology change the game for event professionals?
It gives them their lives back. No longer stressed out with a million emails and spreadsheets from hell for every event. No last minute panic phone calls about where or when the client dinner is being held. Everyone involved in an event has access to the information that they need. And if, and when, it inevitably changes, one single post and everyone is automatically updated.
And it helps them get promoted. How? Well if you run an awesome event and everything is in your inbox or spreadsheets that only you know how to manipulate, it would be madness to pick anyone else but you to run same event next year. If you used ZenAlpha, then all the ideas, discussions, decisions, costings and contacts are in one place. Just reassign the event folder to your successor and you can be promoted.
Some other game changers:
Saves time: The industry stats say 20% of people’s time is spent looking for information (and confirming it is correct). The event logistics. The up to date copy of a speakers Powerpoint deck. The seating plan for the sponsors dinner. Etc. Now it’s all in one place.
Reduces “junk” email: How many times are you involved in an event and are cc’d on every email. You are involved in branding and marketing. So why are you sent emails discussing the insurance for the venue? With ZenAlpha you are subscribed to the discussions which are relevant to you. So you only see and read what you need to.
Stops embarrassing cost overruns: With a central place for all quotes, invoices and expenses, it is easy to track what is being spent by whom. So nasty surprises after the event when yo finally get all the costs together in a spreadsheet.
6. What do your best customers love about you?
Just launching, so we are just capturing customer feedback. But one overriding comment is “it looks beautiful and is so intuitive”
7. What industry trends and shifts are you following that you think are important?
- Collaborative sharing of information
- Information available on any device delivered from the cloud
- Single source of information
8. Any lessons learned from the trenches?
Great events require extreme levels of commitment from event professionals. Technology could make that easier. That reduces the stress for event professionals. It increases the visibility for senior execs responsible for events. And it reduces the risks.
Have to ask: What’s your favorite app? (Not your own)
Well we at The Meeting Pool certainly like that! 🙂