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Most Innovative People in Events 2020: Sam Eitzen & Joe Eitzen

This dynamic duo channeled their do-good attitudes to not just pivot amid the pandemic, but to start a new business to boot.

Most Innovative People in Events 2020: Sam Eitzen & Joe Eitzen, Snapbar
Headshots: Courtesy of Snapbar

The Basics: Sam Eitzen and Joe Eitzen are the co-founders of Seattle-based Snapbar, a photo booth and selfie station rental business formed by the two brothers in 2012. "We started our company almost by accident when we started renting out traditional photo booths at weddings," explains Sam. "We knew nothing about the events industry and didn’t know what an event industry association like MPI was until years later. We learned quickly, though, and realized how high-pressure the industry was, and did our best to adapt and thrive by delighting each and every client. Over time, we fell in love with the ability to create custom experiences using technology and good design, and that’s what we've been pursuing ever since."Snapbar Virtual Event PacksA new product from Snapbar in partnership with sister company Keep Your City Smiling, the Virtual Event Pack are prime for allowing sponsors of virtual events to get in front of an audience while live events are few and far between. Additionally, the delivery boxes allow virtual event attendees to feel more connected with the online gathering, increasing overall engagement.Photo: Courtesy of Snapbar

2020 Highlight Reel: In a year when many activation-centric companies were put out of business, Sam and Joe ensured Snapbar wouldn't be one of them by not only reinventing their current business model to form a virtual photo booth, but also by adding a new one into the mix as well—a gifting biz with a purpose of supporting small businesses and spreading positivity. Not to mention, the team of go-getters recently launched the Virtual Event Pack in partnership with their new sister company.

"We’ve had quite the year. I think, together, we’ve aged about seven years in the last seven months," says Joe. Sam continues, "There have been big wins, but none of them have come without a ton of burden and stress. We’re incredibly proud of our team and the two huge ‘reinventions’ we've undergone in a very short amount of time. We launched a brand-new business called Keep Your City Smiling in about nine days, and it saved us. It bought us time and helped us retain our team. With the time we ‘bought’ ourselves, we entered the world of event tech and pioneered the virtual photo booth concept being used around the world today. We look nothing like we did in February, and while it’s still a scary time to be in events, we believe these reinventions will take our company to new heights in the near future."

Event Philosophy: "Our event philosophy has shaped our customer service and is now shaping the way we launch new businesses like Keep Your City Smiling or how we build our online products," says Joe. "It started with weddings, where early on we learned the importance of getting things right as well as going above and beyond on a day that, to our clients, would be one of the most significant days of their lives. This pressure was good for us. It was pretty stressful, but it was a great way to learn that events don’t usually allow for much ’slack.' Years later, when we’d be building big custom experiences at CES, these lessons applied just as well. And it continues to apply this year, despite the painful turbulence the events industry has experienced."

Goals for the Future: The two are adamant: "We love creating engagement," says Sam. "In a world full of distraction and information, where everything is vying for your attention and time, creating experiences or products that naturally engage a user is worth a lot, and also lots of fun. In the early days of Snapbar, this looked like fun photo booths with great-looking photos at weddings and parties. Over the years, it turned into dynamic visuals, custom sets, and experiential elements at large-scale events. And today, it involves intentional, small-business-supporting gift boxes for Keep Your City Smiling and building engagement technology for Snapbar. Through it all, our core focus remains Snapbar."

He adds, "We’ll continue to build products and services that leverage the trends around mobile devices, camera tech, and the open web to create engaging experiences that work in person, virtually, or in hybrid environments. But the goal is always the same: to create natural and fun engagement for people that’s valuable to the brands we work with."

Snapbar Keep Your City Smiling Gift BoxesPivoting amid the pandemic to help small businesses in Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and beyond, Snapbar founded Keep Your City Smiling, a gifting company meant to help keep small businesses running while spreading messages of positivity.Photo: Joe Eitzen

Back to the Most Innovative People in Events 2020 list, sponsored by Pathable

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