Sched started in 2008 when my co-founders and I were looking for a better way to navigate South by Southwest (SXSW). SXSW is a technology, music, and film conference and festival that takes place in Austin, Texas every spring. It is a huge event. There are literally hundreds of official events and thousands of unofficial events happening throughout the course of the week. As attendees, even though we were attending the official conference, we also wanted to know about all the other things that were going on because it is a great networking opportunity.
This experience inspired the initial version of the product. We wanted a better understanding of what was happening, who was going to be there, and something that could tell us when and where we needed to be. The tool was a hit. It really helped people to have a better experience and get more out of the conference.
After SXSW, a handful of people reached out to let us know that they had seen what we did and asked if we could do the same for their event. From there, we grew from helping people on a one-off basis as a side project to creating a company and a product that is used by thousands of organizations and touches millions of users every single year.
Everyone connects with something different and for us it was SXSW, but we quickly realized that all these events had a common challenge that software could solve.
Who engages with your platform and who do you deal with directly?
We help event organizers easily create great events. While we primarily work with event organizers, we end up supporting the speakers, attendees, and vendors who all use our software to get the most out of the event.
How experienced should an event organizer be to use your platform?
The most common feedback we hear is that our platform is incredibly easy to use. Our users run the gamut from non-tech-savvy (admin assistants, administrative assistants, etc) all the way to people that are professionally certified event planners. At Sched we try to focus on making it easy for our users to be able to do what it is that they need to do, in essence, helping them to run and execute great events. While the platform makes it easy to plan an event, the solution set is quite powerful and sophisticated. Our platform includes features like creating accountability at the event, being able to delegate responsibilities to other stakeholders, powerful reporting, and analytics to help the event organizers to understand what’s going on.It is our goal to help the organizers that we work with to run and execute great events. So, we offer a ton of support to help them do that. Our team is on call 24/7 to help solve any problems and make sure that the event runs smoothly.
Do you support in-person, virtual, and hybrid events? How are these different from each other in terms of structure?
Sched has been supporting virtual events since our inception in 2008. As you can probably imagine, over the course of a pandemic, we saw the number of virtual events increase dramatically to dominate the type of events we supported.
We serve all three of these segments and adapt our software to the unique needs each of these formats have. We are always looking to find ways to help create the environments that are going to enable exceptional events and create the exceptional type of experiences that most event organizers want their attendees to have.
For us, especially on the attendee front, we do quite a bit to try and encourage engagement among the users. Simple things from creating dynamic profiles, incorporating social network tools, creating networking opportunities, and creating spaces for community building within the platform itself, all help to improve the user’s experience.
For virtual events, we encourage event organizers to structure their events differently. We try to encourage more things like creating community spaces, building networking sessions directly into the platform itself, and making sure that they are promoting and building awareness around many of the networking capabilities available within the platform. When you have a virtual event, it’s almost the opposite of an in-person event. With virtual events, it’s important to export the venue to the attendee in order to fully engage the attendees and encourage a sense of community.
What makes you stand out from other event management tools?
We are relentlessly focused on delivering results for our users and the stakeholders that they serve. We aren’t just a software company, we are a company that focuses on making professional event organizers successful. What they tell us is that Sched is better in its simplicity, organization, and service.
Simplicity- The tool is pretty simple and easy to use, and quick to set up, but if you do need help, there is a ton available.
Organization- We have learned to think like an event organizer. We appreciate the process of creating an event involves recruiting speakers, attracting attendees, planning schedules, and managing registrations all while providing seamless communication. We think this organization helps keep our customers organized so they can plan a successful event.
Service- We are big believers in investing in our relationships. We always want to leave people in a better condition than when we found them, especially for our customers and users. For that reason, we make sure that all our users have a world-class experience.
I can share an example of this. We had a customer a couple of weeks ago send us a comment, she told us that we provided the most wonderful, fast, and helpful customer service experience that she’s ever encountered in an online platform. I was a little bit blown away by that, but I think that’s a testament to our team and the work that they put in literally 24/7 because we have coverage 24/7 to help our customers to make sure that they’re running a great event.
That is something that really gives me a lot of pride, just knowing that they are as committed to helping our customers achieve their goals and executing these great events, as I am.
If I want to use Sched as an event host. At what point in the event planning should I bring you onboard?
It really depends on the organization and the kind of event. We offer a free trial which is really a free event management database that people can use pretty much indefinitely. It is a 30-day free trial, but to be completely honest, it’s an unlimited free trial that people can use pretty much for however long they want and need to use it for.
Some organizations will sign up and begin using the tool a year and a half before the start of the conference while others will come through a day or two before the start of the event. So, it really is up to the individual event organizer, what they’re looking to do and what they’re looking to accomplish.
We suggest you start a couple of months beforehand to familiarize yourself with everything and to help delegate things to other people.
What can we expect to see from Sched in the future?
I don’t want to talk too much about the future because I want to leave a little bit to the imagination. What I can tell you is that we are relentlessly focused on delivering great solutions for event organizers and that we are actively working on a ton of new features that we are confident will ensure that Sched events are better year after year.
Karen has studied psychology and business management, and has spent the majority of her career in online retail focusing on people management and development in a virtual environment. In her free time, you can find her in the garden planting vegetables, practicing lawn bowling, or relaxing at home with her partner and four beautiful cats.