ES. 10Times recently launched the business events management platform FLOOR which focuses on virtual events. How did this idea flash through your mind?
Atul Todi. To drive digital engagement for events has always been part of our ethos. While we didnt think a complete virtual event platform would become a reality in 2020, we had looked at the pieces needed to build something that would work.
When early signs of pandemic started coming out of China, we realised that a solution was needed for the industry and zoom was not going to be enough. With our tech infra in place, we discussed with over 100 clients to understand the GAP.
ES. How Floor can help event planners effortlessly? How handy the floor is for an organisation to switch over this work from the home environment at such a large scale?
Atul Todi. We see FLOOR as an extension to in-person events and not a replacement. If pre-covid, each organiser did a lot of engagement before and after the event. FLOOR solution is version 2 of that engagement, where now we can build community, host roadshows, drive engagement with content, etc. FLOOR opens many new doors for event planners. Gives wider reach to new regions and audience, gives speed to address fast changing nature of industries and user requirement and massive saving on costs. So FLOOR is an effortless extension to every event that seeks to grow and build their user engagement.
“Technology by definition serves the purpose of making things easier, more effective and solve problems in general”
ES. You have been an active role player in the Exhibition industry for many years and have deeply supported the industry by providing a platform to connect with each other. Could you provide the readers a bit more about your early life and career?
Atul Todi. The journey started almost a decade back, when 10Times started digitalising events which were stuck in physical journals and magazines.
Having attended mutliple conference while doing research in the US and later attending expos, when helping my family with business, I realised how powerful events could be, but the high level of fragmentation and lack of information access. 10Times sole goal has been to drive more people to events and find opportunities. We have made some progress, but a long way to go.
ES. How can be floor beneficial for the MICE industry? Any marketing strategies that you are planning?
Atul Todi. MICE industry needs to first accept that we are curators and have a very important role to play in the future humanity is heading towards. With explosion of content and over a billion knowledge workers, curating the right experience and bringing the right set of people together is going to be extremely critical. 10Times and FLOOR are just tools for the overall industry to leverage and address some of the inherent challenges. Talking about FLOOR, it provides a virtual space for MICE partners to build, engage and grow their community. Solution like this should be incorporated by all partners as an extension to their current marketing & communication plan. To simply, FLOOR unlocks active engagement opportunities inorder to drive higher conversation and participation.
ES. Technological change is creating historic shifts in industry footprints. Do you think, this process will accelerate?
Atul Todi. Technology by definition serves the purpose of making things easier, more effective and solve problems in general. Till the time there is room for improvement, technology will continue to push us to move in that direction. With Gen-z entering the workforce, globalization becoming irreversible, the internet becoming omnipresent and smartphones becoming accessible, there is way too much room for innovation in our industry. So I believe that pandemic just accelerated what was inevitable and this trend will continue. And, as more event companies leverage new tech solutions and show clear benefits, the rest with eventually follow. However, as part of the process, tech solutions which deliver result with continue to evolve, while the rest with perish.
ES. Low bandwidth problems remain a challenge for attendees? How do you tackle these problems?
Atul Todi. Right from the beginning, we built with low bandwidth issue as core proposition for FLOOR. Instead of trying to be a fancy 3D graphic platform, with complicated navigation option, our main goal was – how to make the application functional on phone and with low bandwidth. To achieve this, we had to focus on keeping things simple and light, rather than complicated and heavy. Also, we have the option where if someone has low bandwidth, the live streaming component can adjust to ensure seamless experience.
ES. Your first event must be a memory that you would cherish forever. We would love to know about the story.
Atul Todi. Before we could pitch the product to clients, we had to do testing with actual audience. in order to do this, we hosted events on our own, called speakers we knew. Over the Atul Todi. Before we could pitch the product to clients, we had to do testing with actual audience. in order to do this, we hosted events on our own, called speakers we knew. Over the 4-5 initial events, the goal was to ensure we are able to host a 1000 concurrent audience and identify bugs which needed to be addressed. It was a nerve recking experience, something I can never forget.
ES. According to your expertise & knowledge, what are the top trends you’ve witnessed in the Indian exhibition ecosystem?
Atul Todi. There are a few things that have changed, but I think its still work in progress and Indian Exhibition Ecosystem has a long-long way to go. Since the pandemic, there is higher willingness to adopt technology, greater value for digital platforms, willingness to experiment with new ideas and overall appreciation for data. These are all good signs for the Indian ecosystem and we hope to see this grow and become part of daily discussion of event planners in coming days.
ES. Sitting at the helm, your role at 10times must have been exhausting. Can you give a glimpse of how your daily work life looks like? Also, we would like to know what keeps you busy when you are away from work?
Atul Todi. When you love something, its not exhausting. Personally for me, 10Times is a project for greater good. We are helping connect people with opportunities across regions and industries. When people connect, it gives life to new business, drives innovation and helps propel humanity forward. My daily work life is quite similar to any early stage entrepreneur. Your mind is working 24/7, trying to connect the dots, fire fighting, exploring ideas, while making sure we are financially stable. When not working, I indulge in meditation, playing squash and road trips while listening to some podcast. I do occasionally paint as a form of mediation.
ES. What is the edge your company has over other players in the industry?
Atul Todi. We have 10 years of experience in the space and we dont believe in a quick fix. Things in the event industry takes time, and we are willing to put our heads down and keep moving. FLOOR has been able to innovate, host over 1500 events in less than 18 months time and deeply understand the challenges and opportunity. We have over 12 months of development in pipeline, with some really powerful solutions for our partners. 10Times on the other hand continue to be the biggest and most reliable platform to find business events. We have been quietly developing over the last 18 months to make the platform more sound and effective. So a lot to look forward to and continue to make the industry stronger.