The second edition of our start up competition went live at IMEX. Meet the winner, Initlive.
Initlive won both the People's Choice Award (as voted by the live audience) and the overall decision by the judges. As part of their prize they won this interview on EventMB and many other prizes.
Initlive is a cloud service and real time native mobile device app for managing staff and volunteers at events. Let's find out more about this exciting startup and winner of the startup competition...
Introduce Yourself and Your Team
InitLive was founded in August 2013. We were originally looking to create an event participant product, but after talking to many event planners we realized that managing staff and volunteers was a huge pain point, and the competition was email, excel and walkie-talkies. We also figured out pretty quickly that the event app space was quite crowded.
We knew we had to go mobile-first when developing the product, since our differentiator was to be day-of real time communication and fixing of schedule problems. After architecting and putting the back end in place, we quickly developed the iOS version of the app, and started trials right away, hand-coding the database.
InitLive is fortunate to be an affiliate of Wesley Clover, Sir Terry Matthews’ incubator in Ottawa. Debbie Pinard, the CEO has been working for Terry since 1981, when she joined Mitel as a software developer for one of their PBX products.
Initlive currently has 8 staff members and 2 interns. The 3 founders are Debbie (CEO), Melissa (Marketing and UI/UX design) and Scott (R&D). Alyssa our Sales Director joined us in January and was the one who delivered the pitch at IMEX, and obviously did a great job! Every staff member is also a shareholder.
What Did You Do Before InitLive?
Debbie worked at Mitel on PBX’s for 18 years, starting as a software designer, and then eventually becoming the Director of Strategic Technology for the company. She worked at 4 other companies in various roles before starting InitLive. Debbie has over 45 granted patents, and has 4 filed for InitLive.
Melissa is a recent graduate of Guelph-Humber’s Media Studies – Image Arts program, and worked as a volunteer for many years with the YMCA.
Scott started his software development career in 1989 at Datacor Ism, and then moved to Dalhousie University followed by Kivuto, where he was employee #2. He is the software architect for the company as well as the VP of R&D.
Alyssa has a BA in Drama and a diploma in Hospitality and Event Management. She has worked for various event management companies, as well as two large hotel chains as a Sales Manager.
What Gave You the Idea?
Debbie was working at Wesley Clover helping all the start ups with patents. She had an idea for a next generation communication system based on the cloud and smartphones, which she patented. It then morphed into a communication system for people who were together temporarily, which led to the event space and finally to managing and communicating with staff and volunteers on event day.
Who is Your Audience?
We are targeting event planners of conferences, universities, festivals, associations and sporting events; any event that has a large number of staff and/or volunteers that are spread out over a wide space. We know our demographic, and we have made our user interface extremely simple and user friendly.
What Problem do you Solve for Event Professionals?
Currently event managers are using excel and email to set up the schedules and shifts for their staff and volunteers at events. This is very time consuming, and is prone to error.
On the day of the event, they have to print out all the schedules and staff lists with contact info in case they need to call or text anyone. They check the staff and volunteers in manually, and if some don’t show up (statistically 30% of volunteers don’t show up), they are scrambling to figure out what the volunteer was supposed to be doing and who to replace them with. A limited number of people have walkie-talkies, and if a crisis happens, they report it on an open-air channel for anyone to hear.
After the event is over, hours worked by each volunteer are manually totaled. InitLive solves all these problems in a very cost effective manner for both large and small events.
How do you Help Event Managers and Volunteers?
InitLive lets the event manager use a cloud service to create a multi-day, multi-venue, multi-location, multi-shift, multi-role event. With one button push, they can send everyone their own personal schedules and hours can be saved by letting volunteers sign up for their own roles and shifts. Double shifting errors are displayed automatically.
On the day of the event, the mobile app lets the event manager or delegate check people in, which automatically lets the event manager know when a shift/role has a problem with being understaffed. This can be corrected right from the app with our patent pending suggestion list.
All staff and volunteers contact information and personal schedules are available.
The patent pending broadcast feature lets the event manager send out a targeted broadcast message, which can be filtered by check in status, scheduled or not, and by role or location. This is especially useful when a crisis arises and all people currently in a set of roles or at a particular venue need to be notified. This creates a much safer event.
The master schedule can be used to check what is supposed to be happening at a particular time, and can also be used to reassign staff as necessary.
Volunteers have contact details for their direct supervisor, and by using the in-app messaging system, can submit issues without leaving their post. They also have their personal schedule in the app, and are sent reminders before their shift starts. They have descriptions of all the roles they are in, and have a list of all broadcasts they have received.
We have already helped to find a lost child at 2 events that utilized our tool.
What’s Next for InitLive?
We have a list of features that we want to add to the system (including 2 patent pending features “where are you?” and role-based walkie-talkies). We want to incorporate beacons and location services for auto check-in and check-out as well as volunteer location for issue resolution.
We will continue to attend event industry conferences and events during the year.
We have quite a few big festivals, conferences and sporting events using our tool over the summer, and we are excited to be able to gather more statistics and feedback.
Have a look at Initlive.