Top 50 Innovative Event Pros 2013: Omar Seyal

The co-founder of Tagstand is making near-field communication technology accessible and affordable for events.

By Lauren Matthews June 12, 2013, 7:00 AM EDT

Omar Seyal, co-founder, Tagstand

Photo: Kulveer Taggar

At a time that has seen increased use of near-field communication (N.F.C.) ­technology in events as a way to cut down on lines, help brands extend their reach, and engage attendees, Omar Seyal, 31, along with Tagstand co-founders Kulveer Taggar and Srini Panguluri, are leading the way in making the ­technology not only easy for planners to use, but also ­affordable. However, it was by chance that the trio stumbled into events a year after launching its first N.F.C. ­product in March 2011.

“When we started Tagstand, it really had nothing to do with producing hardware and software for events—we were just interested in the bridge between the physical and the digital worlds,” Seyal says. But in early 2012, organizers of the Manhattan Cocktail Classic reached out to ask what was possible with N.F.C., which led to Tagstand helping the festival execute its opening-night gala, heralded as the first N.F.C.-powered digital tasting event. The tech company created wristbands embedded with N.F.C. microchips that guests could use to track the specific cocktail recipes being served. Guests also had the option to link the bands Facebook, Twitter, and their email accounts, allowing them to post to social networks with a tap of their wrists. Thanks to the wristbands, the gala created more than 133,740 social impressions.

Tagstand has since worked on events for clients like Tasting Table and Whole Foods and also recently launched a turnkey ­solution for event planners. In addition to giving its readers a wider range, Wi-Fi connection, local storage, and the ability to let planners repurpose the gadgets for various uses like gate entry or payments, Tagstand’s main goal in regards to events is driving the costs down.

“If you don’t have the budget of Coachella to spend $500 on a gate, you can still make this stuff happen—we want every N.F.C. reader at your event to be less than $30,” says Seyal says. The ultimate payoff as it catches on? “Eventually, people will go to events and be able to do all these things without their face buried in their phone all night.”

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