Event Innovators 2014: Martin Ferro-Thomsen & Jon Schäffer

The C.E.O. & C.C.O of Conferize created an innovative digital platform for events.

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

Martin Ferro-Thomsen & Jon Schäffer, C.E.O. & C.C.O, Conferize

Photo: Martin Sandholt

Danish entrepreneurs Martin Ferro-Thomsen, 37, and Jon Schäffer, 39, met while working at Issuu, a digital publishing platform co-founded by Ferro-Thomsen in 2006 that now houses 15 million publications. At Issuu, they realized many other industries were ripe for a technology transformation, and in 2011 Ferro-Thomsen left to create a similar open platform for events, Conferize; a year later Schäffer joined as C.C.O.

The Web system aggregates information from events around the world and makes it easy for users to search for events based on interests, industries, people they follow on the platform, or the event’s location. The system also recommends events based on a user’s profile. More than three million people have already used Conferize to discover and track more than 13,000 events. Content includes presentations, photos, videos, speaker and sponsor information, and live streams. Planners can also link to their registration system to sell tickets.

“Being at an event in person—that’s something we love, and we don’t think we can replace that,” Ferro-Thomsen says. “But if you can’t attend, or for whatever reason you are not there, you can get a taste of the event. The content, the social buzz, the speakers: it’s a close as it gets, but not the real thing.”

In March the company announced a partnership with TEDx that provides a complimentary listing for all TEDx organizers. This summer Conferize will come out of beta and release an updated user interface that is more mobile-friendly and focused on driving engagement. “What Conferize wants to help do is convert some of these people to actually buy the tickets,” Schäffer says. “And the best way to do that is if they are engaged in the event through networking with other people and through engaging with and sharing interesting content.”

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