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Meet the Industry Pros Putting Event Tech Platforms to the Test

#EventProfsBreakShit is a community of event professionals whose goal is to partner with event tech platforms to see if they can, in fact, 'break' them (figuratively speaking, of course). Here, get to know the leaders and see how it works.

Twine

Event technology platforms have been on the up and up for the past two years, and at this point, you’d be hard-pressed to find a planner who hasn’t produced a virtual event. But with nearly every platform claiming the “best virtual event platform” superlative, it’s hard to decipher which ones are actually superior.

Enter #EventProfsBreakShit, a community of event management professionals working with big and small event technology providers to put them to the test by experiencing and experimenting with the platforms as a group. 

How It Started
At the helm is Shawn Cheng—a Vancouver-based senior strategist of brand, experience and marketing at DAHLIA+Agency—and Sina Bünte, founder of Digitalmind.events based out of Germany. Shawn Cheng, #EventProfsBreakShitShawn Cheng, co-founder of #EventProfsBreakShitPhoto: Jon Benjamin Photography Inc.

"It started because the three of us were frustrated with the demo from technology companies, because they were all kind of the same, and they really didn't tell you the answer you were looking for,” explains Cheng, who co-founded the initiative alongside fellow event pros Anh Nguyen and MigueI Neves in April 2020, shortly after the start of the pandemic. “Anh actually reached out to a tech vendor and said, 'Hey, instead of you giving us the presentation, could you give me the access, and I can invite my friends to check it out—and they actually said yes! It was unusual at that time.” 

But it wasn’t until the question of “How many attendees can your platform hold?” was asked that the lightbulb went off: “They said unlimited, and we brought in over 200 people and 'broke' the platform in 15 minutes. We realized that this was an interesting way to experience technology from a planner perspective,” says Cheng.

Sina Bünte, #EventProfsBreakShitSina Bünte, event producer and community leader for #EventProfsBreakShitPhoto: Courtesy of Sina BünteHow It Works
Since its inception, the group has partnered with event tech platforms such as Swapcard,  YoTribe (now Wonder.Me), Shindig, Engamio, Rally and Twine. 

For some events, especially starting out, the group has approached the tech companies with their proposition, but, more recently, Cheng and Bünte are getting requests from platforms for the event pros to host an event to see if they can “break their shit.” 

Once approached or an offer is accepted, Cheng and Bünte get to work to plan and produce a one-hour virtual event on the platform for 100 to 150 attendees (fellow event planners) to test either the platform’s functionality as a whole or target a specific feature by request of the company. For example, Bünte says, “We worked with Swapcard last year, and they had a new feature in April which was their audio-only roundtable, so instead of checking the whole Swapcard platform, we focused on that, and that worked really well. Swapcard got a lot of feedback from our community.” 

She adds, “One of the things we do while we have this one-hour event is run a Google Doc in the background and always encourage attendees to add their feedback there. The tech vendors get this feedback, and they can directly go to the product development team and have them work on it.” 

Up next on their list of things to try and break is Allseated EXVO, a platform known for its 3D virtual environments. "They claim they are the venue of the metaverse—a really hot topic right now—so we picked this up and are trying to 'break' the venue of the metaverse,” says Bünte.

The exploration event takes place today, Jan. 27, and will allow attendees one hour to explore the platform, including attending breakout sessions where subject matter experts will hold educational conversations on the metaverse. For all events hosted by #EventProfsBreakShit, attendees are encouraged to explore, click and interact with everything they can on the platform to discover any issues or errors and provide feedback in real time—ultimately helping the platforms find and fix weak points in their technology. 

How It Helps
"When tech companies work with us, we actually empower them to think longer and deeper. Moving into this year, collaboration between planner and supplier, and collaboration between technology user and technology provider is going to be more essential—and we're happy to demonstrate that and be part of the experience,” says Cheng. 

In addition to today’s event hosted on Allseated EXVO, which allows planners to experience and test the platform from an attendee’s perspective, the platform is opening up access to its backend from Jan. 31 to Feb. 14 so event organizers can actually explore the technology from the planner side. 

For each partnership, Bünte explains, “We talk to the tech vendors to talk to them about what do they want to present, what do they want to showcase, and in Allseated EXVO's case, it was not only showing the attendee point of view but also showing how easy it is to set up the 3D experience as a planner."

The fearless, tech-savvy leaders of #EventProfsBreakShit have been pleasantly surprised by the positive reaction they’ve received from technology companies. “The companies we're working with, they open up and are willing to try something different, willing to do something different and willing to listen to what the industry and what their customer is looking for,” says Cheng. 

He adds, “If we can do one thing for the industry with this project, I would like that thing to be to encourage people to take risks, be a bit more curious and don’t mind failing. Everyone in the industry is talking about how we can do better, how events can be better, how our jobs can be better and how important our jobs are—all that advocacy and topics we talk about, they won't happen if we don't step up to be more willing to take risks. And we're trying to do it in a fun, safe way that lifts up your creativity in the process.”

Event planners interested in getting involved with #EventProfsBreakShit and joining the platform-testing party can sign up here, while event technology platforms looking to have the community give their platform a test drive and gain valuable feedback can learn more here

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