Event Innovators 2014: Dan Berger

The founder and C.E.O. of Social Tables used an awkward wedding as inspiration for a national company that strives for "frictionless" meeting planning.

By Mitra Sorrells June 17, 2014, 7:00 AM EDT

Dan Berger, founder and C.E.O., Social Tables

Photo: Courtesy of Social Tables

Dan Berger’s inspiration to create Social Tables came to him as he prepared to attend a wedding where he didn’t know any of the other guests. “I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if I could see a digital seating chart so I know where everybody is seated, and, even better, what if it was linked to their Facebook profiles so I could see pictures instead of just names and I could know who to strike up a conversation with?’” he says.

The Israeli-born Berger, 32, drew upon his experience building websites as a teenager and created Social Tables as a “fun side project” shortly after earning his M.B.A. from Georgetown University. That was in 2011, and today Washington, D.C.-based Social Tables has 32 employees and 2,000 customers including the recent signing of Hyatt Hotels and the House of Blues franchise in 12 cities throughout the United States.

The product has evolved based on clients’ needs. In addition to seating plans, Social Tables can be used for 3-D room diagramming, guest list management, check-in, and meal coordination. “Meeting planning automation is our business. So the process can be as frictionless as possible, and planners can focus on strategy more than operations,” Berger says. He’s also dedicated to establishing Social Tables as a thought leader for the event industry by producing regular e-books, white papers, and a bimonthly email newsletter.

Now he’s incorporating his research into software upgrades. “For example, if you are planning an education event and you have 300 people, the software will tell you how many screens you need, how many gallons of coffee to pour,” he says. “And if you have certain objectives, we’ll tell you what time to have that meeting or when to have a break during the day.”

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