In a previous article I wrote that the 2010 edition of Le Web had about 3,000 attendees which could be both a networking blessing or a nightmare. For me it was the former as I managed to have those 8 or 10 meaningful meetings that justified my stay in Paris. I was able to do so thanks to Presdo Match, an online tool for messaging and scheduling meetings during conferences which makes it easy for the attendees and exhibitors to find each other based on matching interests, enabling them to securely communicate and schedule one-on-one meetings at an event
Eric Ly (linkedin, twitter), previously a co-founder of Linkedin, is the founder of Presdo which launched the scheduling tool Presdo Match in September 2010. In the video below he describes the features and future goals for Presdo Match.
I’m not surprised that Eric had received meeting requests from several of the other conference organizers attending Le Web, as facilitating networking between attendees is one of the main goals we have when organizing an event. There are not many good off-the-shelf tools out there that can be easily implemented and building your own is often not a road we want to follow (costs, maintenance, constant tech updates, etc). As he said at the end of the interview, “It seems we touched a pain point here”.
I’m looking forward to a product demo to understand Presdo Match’s full potential and maybe use it in one of my upcoming conferences.
- Seamless integration with Linkedin: you see rich profiles and who from your network is attending the same event
- You can view the other delegates attending
- Attendees can easily send messages, meeting requests and schedule them
- The system automatically offers which are your free times and a list of pre-established meeting points to choose from
- Mobile version compatible with any smartphone (based on html and not a proprietary OS app)
- The People Genius provides personalized recommendations on who to meet, and they can find out who they know from their social network is attending the event
- Offers several ways to search for interesting attendees (name, company, keywords)
- If you have one, it duplicates your attendee network (Le Web didn’t have one)
- The design is rather basic and dull – it’s not clear how much control the event organizer has to personalize the page to its event look & feel (when will we see a tumblr-design like tool?)
- The “like” feature generated a lot of undesired emails during the days previous to the event. You could decide not to receive any emails at all or a single one for each activity regarding your profile (people that liked you, requested a meeting or sent a message). I would have preferred to receive a daily summary
- Photos were too small (especially on the mobile site) and it was often difficult to identify a person you’ve never met before (especially with 3,000 attendees filling up the networking areas at Le Web)
While Eric didn’t say it directly, I believe they are open to do barter agreements in order to generate a critical mass (in 4:38 he does mention the interest in doing “a successful pilot first” and then establishing a long-term working relationship ).
On their website they present a revenue model consisting of either an individual fee of 3,99 USD for each attendee or a lump-sum for the event starting at 999 USD.
Why didn’t Linkedin do it?
That’s one of the first questions I asked myself. As with digital business card exchange, I wonder why does Linkedin ignore these two extremely valuable features. While Linkedin is the number one professional profile database/social-network, it offers a poorly designed “In Person” function in their iPhone app and nothing at all for event scheduling . It would improve the attendees experience (by not having to set up a new professional profile on a different platform) and would surely generate new revenues.
Currently Presdo Match creates a separate attendee profile for each event but Eric mentions that they “want to eventually enable kind of a database of profiles that people can have in the Presdo Match system so that they can reuse their profiles depending on what kind of event they’re going to”. In that case I see a potential overlap with Linkedin.
It’s not a perfect world, especially if you already have a network of delegates
Le Web didn’t have their own network of attendees so Presdo Match was satisfied both the need of finding out who was attending (actually Le Web did provide a “flat” list of names, companies and urls of the attendees) and messaging or scheduling meetings with each other. I wonder how would Presdo Match tie in with a conference that already has a user database (aka community) with profiles, photos, messaging, etc but no scheduling tool (I’m thinking of events like Lift and TED). As a conference organizer (and as an attendee), I wouldn’t like to ask the delegates to duplicate their profile just for the scheduling, as they already spent time filling in my proprietary database. Also, what happens with the user profiles after the license agreement with Presdo has ended? (My guess: you lose everything and in the future you’ll have to ask attendees to go through the whole process again).
In conclusion, the conference market needs tools like Presdo Match and if they make the right moves and associate with some of the popular ticketing platforms (Amiando, Eventbrite, etc) they might pick up a sizable share. If they ever create a unified profile that can be used for several events, it would make sense to have a freemium formula like the ticketing platforms (free for free events, payed for events with a ticket price).