Brella's new event app is ready to redefine the way we experience in-person events!
It only takes one good connection to change someone's life, and Brella’s AI-powered matchmaking algorithm has been leading the event industry since 2016, helping event organizers all over the world give their attendees and sponsors the networking experience of a lifetime.
Engineered by event experts, Brella's original event app was a game changer in the industry, combining powerful smart networking with every functionality attendees & sponsors need to manage their event experience in one neat, intuitive digital space.
But in the golden age of mobile apps where popular consumer apps dictate the standards of great UX, we set our minds to developing the first event app on the market fit to outshine the best business apps in the world.
Ready to see the result? Don't miss the video below! 🎥
But what's behind this new revolutionary event app and how will it serve the in-person market?
In this article, Brella's founders Markus Kauppinen (CEO), Mikko Matikka (CPO), Jani Lehtimäki (VP of Partnerships), and Ville Vanhala (VP of Customer Experience) answer the following questions:
- A journey back in time: how was Brella born and why? 🚀
- Why did we invest in designing a new revolutionary event app? 📱
- Why was customization one of the major focus areas? 🎨
- What else lies at the heart of Brella's new event app? 🌟
- What does customer centricity means to Brella? 💜
- Is Brella the best event app on the market? 🏆
- Why did we choose to serve the in-person market? 🤝
- How do you see the future of the event industry & event apps? 🔮
Ready? Let's dive straight into question #1!
1. A journey back in time: how was Brella born and why? 🚀
🎤 Ville: Brella is the only event supplier in the event industry that was born as a spinoff from a design agency, MEOM. Part of Brella's founders were also co-founders of MEOM, which means we have an extensive background in both design and the event industry. This powerful combination can be seen in our product.
🎤 Jani: We were in our early twenties at the time Brella was born. As young professionals, we used to attend many events during that time, to meet new people, find mentors, and learn from more experienced entrepreneurs in the field.
However, we soon realized that even if those events included networking breaks (lunch breaks, coffee breaks, and so on…) there was one crucial element missing from the equation: networking tech.
We loved attending events and we loved creating new connections. However, networking was based on pure randomness, and we soon realized that this lack was a great opportunity for us to build a solution that would bring like-minded people together in one click.
🎤 Markus: So, we started our joint work with MEOM. Back in the day, event apps were substandard compared to other popular consumer apps. Of course, that was also due to the complicated nature of events, there are so many aspects of the whole event experience that could be turned into distinct businesses (see for example ticketing, live-streaming, networking, among others). This is why it's hard to find an event app that can offer the same amazing UX as Spotify, for instance. The use case is really complex.
That being said, with MEOM we had worked with a lot of startups and we had a strong portfolio in consumer apps. The knowledge and skills required to build an innovative networking app that would serve the end user in a new and effective way were there.
Once the original Brella app was ready, we decided to test it in a business environment. The opportunity to partner with Nordic Business Forum arose, and the organizers agreed to pilot Brella at their event. A networking tool like the one we offered was exactly what they'd been looking for to facilitate networking.
🎤 Jani: Each year, Nordic Business Forum gathers thousands of business leaders and at the time, they were still lacking an effective networking solution to drive meaningful 1:1 meetings. That was the perfect testing ground for us to see if there was a market fit for Brella.
Long story short, the networking at Nordic Business Forum was a success like never before. And since then, the organizers of Nordic Business Forum have been using Brella at each event.
🎤 Markus: Brella was something truly revolutionary in the event business and it worked. This is also how we accrued 1M of ARR quite quickly; there was nothing like Brella in the US when we first launched it.
"There was nothing like Brella in the US when we first launched it" - Markus Kauppinen (CEO)
2. Why did we invest in designing a new revolutionary event app? 📱
🎤 Ville: Let’s start with some stats. Research has shown that the average app user spends 4-5 hours on apps every day. Nowadays, we're so used to such a high-level UX and great design that we get incredibly frustrated when using outdated apps. The same applies to event apps, and that's why we wanted to offer the exact superior experience of the most popular consumer apps on the market.
🎤 Mikko: Event apps on the market are out-fashioned, and you can see it even more nowadays as we're surrounded by all types of sophisticated apps. Modern users expect nothing less than a top-notch UX and gorgeous design. They won't use the app otherwise, it's as simple as that.
That's why design plays a crucial part in Brella's new event app, but of course, that's not all - usability is also a big factor. When you combine beautiful design with seamless UX, you have the right basis to build a fantastic digital product.
🎤 Markus: Also, the event app market is still underserved. And if you compare current event apps to some of the most popular consumer apps like Spotify, Instagram, and Uber, there’s still a noticeable gap. We wanted to close that gap.
And we believe event organizers should focus more and more on their end users, as that's what gets them more business. Our goal is to give them the best tool on the market to achieve that.
🎤 Ville: We wanted to be the forerunners in the event app market, and this also means that our clients will become forerunners too when they can provide an innovative event app never seen before in the industry.
Plus, we have thousands of different types of users, so usability is a big factor. For us, it was important to recreate the experience of the best apps in the world because this will also make adoption much easier. With Brella, users don’t have to learn anything new, which makes the adoption 100x faster.
"Modern users expect nothing less than a top-notch UX and gorgeous design. They won't use the app otherwise, it's as simple as that." - Mikko Matikka (CPO)
3. Why was customization one of the major focus areas? 🎨
🎤 Mikko: I have to admit it. We overlooked the importance of customization back in the day, but we learned quite soon that advanced branding functionalities are front and center for event organizers. So, we upgraded our product and built a fully white-labeled event app that supports 360° branding.
Even though Brella is a great brand and organizers want to advertise the app as it's a synonym for a great networking experience, we also understand that event organizers have invested everything into building their brands. Plus, they know what they want to achieve and how they want to achieve it.
So, forcing them to use something that doesn’t work for them or is not needed, it’s ruining the overall experience. The perfect event app should never interfere with event organizers' workflow and branding strategy.
🎤 Ville: Branding is vital for any company in the world, but especially for event organizers. With thousands of events happening around the world every year, what makes you different?
Organizers have been building their brands for years, and it’s also why people recognize them. Their brand is what makes them unique, and unfortunately, they’ve been missing that one important feature from their tech stack which is branding functionalities. Our goal was to give them exactly what they need and deserve.
"Advanced branding functionalities are front and center for event organizers." - Mikko Matikka (CPO)
4. What else lies at the heart of Brella's new event app? 🌟
🎤 Markus: The vision of reinventing the in-person experience and boost engagement on-site to a whole new level. Brella's new event app can support and enhance each aspect of in-person events empowering attendees and sponsors with everything they crave and deserve: intent-based networking, engagement features, serendipitous encounters, and much more.
🎤 Ville: Meaningful face-to-face connections. After years of social distancing, people are now craving in-person networking like never before. This is where we excel and drive incredible results for both attendees and sponsors.
Also, when organizers succeed in creating a phenomenal networking experience it will lead to better retention. We want our clients to be able to grow together with us!
🎤 Jani: The ability to look outside the box and take example from other industries and tech products. We asked - and keep asking - ourselves: what are the things other tech providers are doing really well? What are the features we can copy or mimic in our context?
We try to assimilate the best of everything, from the event industry and many more. I believe there are a lot of things you can learn from others, and not just from your inner circle and industry in general. This shows in our new event app.
🎤 Mikko: With Brella, you can find the perfect match and schedule a meeting with a few clicks. But that's only the tip of this iceberg as there are so many moving parts behind 1 single in-person meeting.
From the matchmaking algorithm that can find all perfect matches in a second, to booking the next available table at the venue. There are so many little aspects we must consider and coordinate in the backend, but for users, all of this is simplified to the extreme with the clicking of a single button.
Magic happens in the background!
"We want our clients to be able to grow together with us." - Ville Vanhala (VP of Customer Experience)
5. What does customer centricity means to Brella? 💜
🎤 Ville: Since the beginning, we’ve been heavily customer-centric. One of our first hires was a Customer Success Manager because we really wanted to take good care of our clients and see them succeed.
Plus, we always strive to understand our customers, define their needs, and determine how can our solution and services help them reach their specific goals. This mindset is at the forefront of anything we do, not only in Customer Success but throughout the whole company, from marketing to our dev team.
I can comfortably state that our whole culture is 100% customer-centric. Some of our clients also say we’re the friendliest company in the event industry. So you see, it’s not only about the software, it’s about the people.
And of course, when we build the product, we’re building it for our clients. We’re always listening to them to figure out how can we help them achieve more and more with us.
"It’s not only about the software, it’s about the people." - Ville Vanhala (VP of Customer Experience)
6. Is Brella the best event app on the market? 🏆
🎤 Mikko: Obviously I am extremely biased, but at the same time, I can’t afford to be too biased in my role. I have to be realistic, listen to our customer feedback, take a look around and follow what’s happening in the world. It would be foolish to just turn a deaf ear and say “we’re the best at what we do - period.”
That being said, I do believe that Brella is the best event app in the market we serve. This is based on two factors: the way we do networking and matchmaking brings the best results. And when you combine great results with seamless UX, easier adoption, and an innovative app, I can confidently state that, yes, we’re the best choice for all events where networking is key.
🎤 Markus: There’s nothing like Brella on the market, especially for in-person events. You can see this from the number of meetings that organizers are able to pull and the quality of those meetings.
Of course, our core area is professional events, because that's where business gets done. If you think of a use case where making business connections is not important, we’re probably not the best solution in that case. However, when it comes to business and creating meaningful long-lasting connections quickly, then yes, we’re the best app on the market.
🎤 Jani: Definitely yes. Of course, design will always somewhat be a matter of personal taste, but if we compare our new event app to other great apps in different industries, I can say we’re world-class. Plus, we keep seeing reinforcing feedback from Brella users on social media, which is a testament to the quality of our product.
"Design will always somewhat be a matter of personal taste, but if we compare our new event app to other great apps in different industries I can say we’re world-class." - Jani Lehtimäki (VP of Partnerships)
7. Why did we choose to serve the in-person market? 🤝
🎤 Ville: First of all, event organizers have been hosting in-person events forever, and this is where they can generate good revenues. Virtual events can help them get a better reach, but they don't necessarily bring substantial revenues when compared to in-person events.
Secondly, business professionals must build trust if they want to succeed nowadays. There are lots of ways to build trust, but nothing will ever replace the power of a face-to-face meeting.
At Brella, we want to enable these meaningful face-to-face interactions and make them as easy as possible. Of course, in-person events are the best place for all life-changing connections to take place. They’re like a marketplace for building trust.
🎤 Markus: We first focused on in-person, because that was the obvious use case as there was no demand for virtual events back in 2015. So, at first, it was a choice due to the nature of the market. In 2020, we started to serve the virtual and hybrid markets too. But as the event industry pivots back to in-person, we must focus on what’s in our DNA, which is in-person matchmaking.
You can't possibly do everything well, and the in-person experience is a clear focus area for us.
🎤 Jani: It’s good to focus on your strengths. I see no point in investing in several tech solutions and building products that are just ok rather than excellent. And that's the thing, we want to be excellent at what we do.
We have such a long background and a good track record in in-person events. Moreover, the future of the virtual market is still quite uncertain, and pursuing that was too big of a risk for our company.
🎤 Mikko: In-person is where we started, but one really important factor for us as to why we’re focusing on in-person again today is that nothing will replace the power of building connections face to face vs. doing it online. You can do so much digitally, but nothing compares to real life.
"In-person events are like a marketplace for building trust." - Ville Vanhala (VP of Customer Experience)
8. How do you see the future of the event industry & event apps? 🔮
🎤 Markus: The good thing about the digitalization of the event industry in 2020 was that the gap between event apps and good consumer apps really narrowed.
Also, I can predict event tech suppliers will have to choose a clear focus area and differentiate their solutions. Developing apps for the whole spectrum of events is just too hard, so thinking of what you’re good at and building it from there will be a winning strategy for event companies and events as well.
As to the future of the event industry, connectivity will play an even greater role, especially when we consider the rise of the metaverse. The value of AI will increase and that means the connectivity and the way people will match and connect in the future will become more and more advanced.
Last but not least, the increasing importance of ESG practices will impact our traveling habits, which means that smaller events in virtual format will still be there. However, the aviation industry is working on reducing its carbon footprint, which means people will get back to traveling on a regular basis eventually.
And we need to remember that the industry is still recovering from the pandemic and a severe economic downturn. Ultimately, the need for people to meet will prevail. And if you ask me, one good way to fight the recession is to have people meet and come up with innovative solutions for doing business in these times.
🎤 Mikko: It has surely been a rollercoaster for the past couple of years, but this has forced all stakeholders in the industry to become more and more creative.
I’m excited about anything that’s coming! But one thing that is quite obvious to me - and this is something I see every day in the behavior of our customers - is the increasing importance of having those in-person connections.
So, if you ask me, the future is very much in-person. Virtual and hybrid events are great and there will always be a place for them, but right now people want those in-person experiences and connections more than ever.
🎤 Ville: Event apps are playing - and will keep on playing - a massive role at in-person events, so this is one thing. Another is the increasing importance of sustainability. In-person events in the future will have to be paperless no matter what, and the right event app must offer all the functionalities required to ditch printed paper.
🎤 Jani: The evolution of event apps has been relatively slow so far, this development will increase and ultimately speed up in the next 5 years.
Covid has forced the event industry to go digital, and I believe that in 5 years from now we won’t see any outdated event apps any longer.
Also, what we see from our event portfolio is that the meeting acceptance rate was already high before Covid, as well as the number of meetings, and this positive trend continues, so much so, that the benchmark is now way higher than it was before. This tells a story that networking and in-person connections have become more important, and it’s now crucial for event organizers to acknowledge that.
"In 2020, the gap between event apps and good consumer apps really narrowed." - Markus Kauppinen (CEO)
It only takes one good connection to change someone’s life, and our mission is to make that connection happen in a beautiful, innovative digital space your attendees will never get enough of.
Discover all the features of our new event app and get in touch with our team at the link below!
- Virtual events
- Hybrid events
- In-person events
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- Is your virtual event platform giving the best experience to your sponsors?
- The 6 questions your virtual sponsors will ask that you need to answer
- Event engagement
- Event matchmaking
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