I think there are still massive innovations possible in the participant experience and ways to facilitate conversations between people. Right now, people still need to do quite a bit of the heavy lifting in terms of requesting and accepting meetings. Through new advancements in anticipatory computing, more data and a deeper understanding of the event experience, we’ll be able to reduce the number of steps people need to take in order to have the best possible conversations. I also think there is incredible growth potential in making sure we’re helping organisers find who is missing from the event for the optimal networking mix.
MS. Could you provide the readers about your early life and career? What was an early project you are particularly proud of and an early defining career moment?
Tim Groot. When I was 15, I travelled abroad to the UK from the Netherlands to support a company in lifting their tulips for 6 weeks in the summer. Looking back, the level of responsibility that was given to me by my father at such a young age was incredible. I’m grateful for the opportunities that were provided to me in my teenage years and proud of how I made the most of them.
MS. How did the concept for Grip occur to you? What role does it play in people’s networking?
Tim Groot. When at Nodes Agency, working on mobile app development, I was working with its Managing Partners on the idea of a “Tinder for Networking” for Cannes Lions, the Media & Advertising event in Cannes. Following the successful launch of Grip, we’ve expanded on our mission to connect people, ideas, and opportunities. Our Event Success Platform plays a pivotal role in making sure that event participants get an incredible Return on Time and Investment out of attending Virtual, Hybrid and In-Person Events.
MS. A variety of event networking apps are available. What makes Grip special, how does it use artificial intelligence, and what data does it use to create networking matchups?
Tim Groot. We have created a unique participant experience across the web and mobile that makes networking fun and engaging while resulting in better recommendations of people to meet. We’ve combined this while creating a more streamlined process for setting up meetings at events resulting in better conversations. Data, AI and technology, in general, serve the purpose of making our lives better. That’s what we’ve been able to do better than anyone else when it comes to networking at events.
MS. What would need to be changed in your technology to deliver greater quality, more sophisticated pairings, and a better user experience? What do you want to do with Grip’s technology now that you can’t do yet?
Tim Groot. Great question, I think there are still massive innovations possible in the participant experience and ways to facilitate conversations between people. Right now, people still need to do quite a bit of the heavy lifting in terms of requesting and accepting meetings. Through new advancements in anticipatory computing, more data and a deeper understanding of the event experience, we’ll be able to reduce the number of steps people need to take in order to have the best possible conversations. I also think there is incredible growth potential in making sure we’re helping organisers find who is missing from the event for the optimal networking mix.
MS. Your system has been used at a number of international events. How soon has it been adopted by users? Do you observe any differences in how people network across countries, cultures, and professional environments?
Tim Groot. In general, adoption has been great and has picked up significantly since we first started as a mobile app only in 2015. There are significant differences based on industry, country and cultures but the most important thing is the execution of the event organiser. Grip is an incredibly powerful and flexible tool and the way that you configure it and communicate its value to your customers has the biggest impact on success. Just like a CRM system doesn’t make your sales go up in itself but when you use it correctly, it unlocks a completely new level of value creation.
MS. How do you keep track of your user’s data, share it, and help them understand what they’ve learned? What has been the company’s evolution during the pandemic, and what have been some of the challenges? What can we expect from Grip in the coming years?
Tim Groot. We were one of the first to raise concerns around data ownership and even made a checklist for organisers. We also have a large data science & insights team that is providing an innovative dashboard to organisers as part of our platform to enable them to better understand event participants and their behaviour. Before the pandemic, organisers didn’t actively ask for data and insights anywhere near the same level as they are doing now. Both for virtual events but also for in-person events there is a much greater need to prove the Return on Investment for Exhibitors and Sponsors. We’re continuously launching new innovations to enable organisers to gain a deeper understanding of their audience and also want to play a more active role in personalizing the omnichannel experience.
MS. What is Grip’s unique selling proposition, and how does it vary from its competitors? What are the hybrid model’s major difficulties and opportunities?
Tim Groot. For us, Hybrid is a Strategy, not an event type. Organisers need to provide more Moments of Belonging that involve Content & Connections beyond the physical event. That’s where the opportunity lies and will also make the in-person experience even better. The challenge lies in how to do this effectively and we’ve seen significant success in our hybrid strategy and see a convergence of ideas at the moment that is starting to capture the opportunity in a profitable and sustainable way while avoiding some of the pitfalls of pre-pandemic 365 platforms.
MS. What are the advantages of using your system for an individual, a business, an event exhibitor, or an organiser?
Tim Groot. In the end, our goal is to deliver Event Success. This means that all stakeholders, within the event need to be successful. This ranges from Return on Time for Event Participants, Return on Investment for Exhibitors & Sponsors and most importantly, Insight & Growth in rebookings, retention, NPS and revenue for Event Organizers.
MS. What trends and difficulties do you expect in the near future for events? What are your thoughts on how technology can be used to generate new revenue streams?
Tim Groot. Anticipatory computing in terms of predicting the success and networking mix of events and greater data capturing will unlock a deeper understanding. New levels of investment are going to result in the creation of more seamless event experiences. Revenue streams are a constant area of innovation, we’ll see organisers slowly move away from the square meter model and move towards value-based pricing, subscription models that combine event participation and 360 value propositions into exciting new packages that are objective-based as opposed to tiered in the classical ‘Bronze, Silver and Gold’.
MS. What are your ambitions for Grip in the future, and where do you envision the firm in the next three to four years?
Tim Groot. We’ll double down on creating incredible moments of belonging for the communities we work with through Connection & Content and deliver Event Success. At Grip, we enable our customers to Win and as such, we’ll continue to invest in making event experiences smoother, help them spot new opportunities for growth and create more sticky and long-term business models.
MS. What tips would you give event planners for finding and hiring a tech provider?
Tim Groot. Align on the long-term strategy first, and features afterwards. While there are a plethora of solutions available there are significant differences in strategy depending on the market and customer types they serve. Product innovation is so fast nowadays that it’s much more important than your business and technology provider are true partners and have long-term alignment on how the future will look. Customer Success and great strategic workshops are therefore fundamental in our opinion and the partnership between event organisers and technology providers goes way beyond a transnational SaaS purchase. We’re a strategic partner for organisers and are part of shaping the future of their business.
MS. Would you like to share any message with the industry?
Tim Groot. “The best way to predict the future is to invent it” is a famous quote from Steve Jobs. I love it when organisers involve us in creating a long-term strategy and involve us in the journey they are on. We’ve had customers that have gone from doing a single virtual event to doing 20+ in-person and virtual events all over the world in the last 2 years. Don’t be afraid to create long-term plans in moments of flux like the current situation, you can be firm in your strategy and flexible in your tactics for achieving it. Be bold and be authentic!