Among all the challenges that event organizers have to conquer, there’s one which is particularly important: being discovered by their future audience. The online service Lanyrd aims to fill this gap by providing a social conference directory that can expose events to a larger number of people. Lanyrd founders, Natalie “Nat” Downe and Simon Willison, offer a few insights on how the service works and it’s ultimate goal: professional development.
Nat and Simon launched Lanyrd (I first wrote about Lanyrd back in 2010), a Y-Combinator alumn, during their round-the-world honey moon. They decided it was worth it after a very skeptical friend of theirs sign up for the service and ended up buying a ticket for one of the events he was tracking.
Nat says they try to “help people find their tribe” and Simon adds that their ultimate goal is to support “professional development”, getting people in touch with new activities to train themselves and eventually helping them find new jobs. These new activities can range from private lessons to hone a specific skill or a huge industry conference to meet partners, prospects, clients and maybe a new career.
Lanyrd helps event organizers run better events and an aspiration of both founders is that events “make more money using Lanyrd than what without us”.
For big events like South by Southwest, Lanyrd has created a dedicated page and twitter account that brings together both official and unofficial events (of which SXSW is full of!). It also shows you who of your Twitter contacts are attending or speaking, so you can catch up with them.
Nat says that “it’s difficult to engineer serendipity” but in the end that’s what Lanyrd does…. it increases the chances that the right person will serendipitously find your event. During 2011 it helped her discover an interesting conference she had never heard about, and had tons of fun at: The Miraculous Egg.
The discoverability of an event increases through Lanyrd’s features like a Twitter directory of the speakers and attendees, their own curated event guides (like these ones) and also because it’s a place to collect and share all the information of an event (before it happens) and all the presentation materials (videos, slides) after it took place. And not only the organizer can add information but also anyone registered to the service, becoming a sort of Wikipedia for events.
Maybe in a near future it will also be a place to express speaker feedback, something that would be useful for organizers deciding if a speaker is worth inviting and for attendees if an event with a certain speaker is worth attending.
Lanyrd is not only for tech events
The quick answer is: No, Lanyrd is for all kinds of events. According to Simon,“the tech industry is always innovating” so it’s natural that early adopters of Lanyrd were tech conferences and notes how “stuff invented in the tech sectors are rolling out to other industries” and they both hope that Lanyrd will permeate to other industries and become useful in them too.
Lanyrd also offers an iPhone App to access all its content while you’re on the road.