Although only in its second year, Worldz’s new vision of the entrepreneurial confab is thinking hard about how to get people talking. The offshoot of the invite-only PTTOW Summit—targeting entrepreneurs and executives in business, the arts, and athletics—is growing fast, prompting organizers to come up with any number of creative, high-touch tactics to recreate PTTOW’s intimacy on a bigger scale.
“We want to take people on a journey to create an inspiring business life,” said Roman Tsunder, co-founder and C.E.O. of PTTOW and Worldz, and it seems more people are along for the ride. “In 2016, we launched with a little over 700 members. In our second year, we had a little over 1,600,” he said of the event, held in Hollywood, California.
Next year’s event is bound to be even bigger, since Worldz is dropping the requirements that would-be participants submit a formal application requesting to attend.
A big part of this strategy was a group of staffers tasked with acting, essentially, as professional wingmen or wingwomen. The ambassadors’ role, he said, was to chat up solitary attendees, learn a little bit about them, and help them connect with like-minded attendees.
“We have an 85-person ambassador team to find people hanging out by themselves. When you come to Worldz you are never alone,” Tsunder said. “It’s really important to get people out of their comfort zones.”
Other creative ways to get people to interact included a short quiz upon arrival to determine their personality type, giving 1,600 strangers the chance to immediately find a point of common ground with fellow attendees (called “travelers” in Worldz parlance).
Tsunder said attendees used a function within the event app to set up “brain dates,” one-on-one meetings where they could discuss mutual professional needs or share their expertise. Over the course of the event, more than 550 such mini meetings were coordinated, Tsunder said.
But much of the work at getting people to connect took place in the analog world. There were introductions before each of the event’s 75 breakout sessions of between roughly 30 and 70 people each, and icebreakers preceded all of the general sessions. Worldz also organized mentorship lunches, where a group of a dozen people could sign up for a meal with a mentor, as well as one-on-one meetings with speakers in between sessions.
“We know a lot of information about our members,” Tsunder said, and that information was put to use by getting people with shared goals, challenges, and ambitions to collaborate and build relationships. “Because Worldz is so much bigger, we’re allowed to get more creative with emotional moments for our attendees.”