Our first event as ExpoPlatform was ArabPlast 2015 – a plastics exhibition in Dubai with 1,500 exhibitors and 25,000 visitors. It was an amazing experience working on the big show where we, being a very young platform, had to develop lots of new features overnight
ES. Let’s kick off this interview with some words about ExpoPlatform. How does ExpoPlatform distinguish itself from other companies?
Tanya Pinchuk. At ExpoPlatform we effectively cover the most complete set of event needs. Expoplatform is an event enabler – we provide technology to the world’s leading exhibition organizers, solving problems of visitor engagement, increasing exhibitor lead generation and producing new revenue streams for the organizer. ExpoPlatform is Smart Event technology for in-person and hybrid events, though our main focus is on exhibitions. An AI-matchmaking algorithm is at the core of our platform, personalizing every aspect of exhibitor and visitor journeys. What sets us apart is that every participant gets personalized suggestions on people to meet, products to explore, sessions to attend and news just for them based on their interactions with people and objects. We are also specialized in 365 communities and marketplaces for events. We work with industry associations and event portfolios where the organizer wants to expand educational, networking and business opportunities year round. This keeps the organizer permanently at the center of their community and in closer touch with their stakeholders.
ES. Give a brief overview of your background and your role at ExpoPlatform?
Tanya Pinchuk. I am originally from Ukraine, but I have been living in the UK since 2013. I am from the exhibition industry, my own start in the industry was as an intern at a newly-built exhibition center in Kyiv when I was a 3rd year university student. It was there I had my first startup idea, growing it from a basic sketch to a multi-million dollar stand building company. Through conversations with exhibitors I realized their main problem was a lack of clarity on the connections they could make during the event. This made it more difficult for them to accurately predict things like how many staff they should bring, how many meetings they could have, and what size stand and layout they needed. Through this frustration I saw an opportunity in what we as an industry were missing – a smart, user-friendly tool to connect buyers and sellers before events so they could network, do research and prepare everything necessary for better in-person connections. This, in a nutshell, is how ExpoPlatform was born. As for my role at ExpoPlatform, I would say that my main task is to make sure we provide an innovative product that helps organizers to move to the next level with their exhibitions. In general, I oversee the management of the company and investor relationships.
ES. How ExpoPlatform can help event planners effortlessly?
Tanya Pinchuk. When choosing event tech, the organizer wants solutions and not more problems. One of the main internal KPIs we have for our platform modules is the easy to use, intuitive interface. The main usability of the platform is in its capacity – it’s much easier and effortless for the organizer to have features all in one place – including the event website builder, marketplace, exhibitor manuals, matchmaking and meeting system and interactive floor plan, which is available for the end users on both web and app.
One example of this is our hosted buyer system where we replace lots of manual work with automated features that really help to maximize the value for both organizers and buyers. This is being successfully used by Gitex, Cosmoprof, IMEX and others.
ES. Technological change is creating historic shifts in industry footprints. Do you think this process will accelerate?
Tanya Pinchuk. The process is irreversible and we’ll continue to digitalise the industry through automation of project management processes for organizers and also greater personalisation of the exhibitor / visitor experience.
We’ve released some research about this in our Event Tech Forecast 2023. The growing importance of digital revenue was a standout finding. We were told by 55% of respondents that this will increase in 2023, while 86% believe it will at least remain the same. Another main area for growth is in building a 365 Community. Almost two-thirds of eventprofs )64%) said nurturing one of these around their live shows was an important opportunity. Meanwhile, digital monetization and proving exhibitor ROI both came out with 50% of respondents to our Event Tech Forecast. There is a shift in visitor expectations of the exhibition experience based on their day-to-day use of numerous technologies including Netflix, Deliveroo, Amazon and Spotify. They expect more from trade shows – a higher personalisation of their experience, better suggestions on whom to meet and what sessions to attend as well as how to spend their very valuable time more effectively. We have to react to this as an industry.
I believe in the power of live events, but I also believe these events have to be supported with technology. Many organizers have hired IT departments and tech-savvy people to lead the digitalisation and we should eventually expect to see more progress in this area. I do not think that we can keep up the pandemic speed as – except for times of great challenges – people are naturally keen to nurture what they have rather than constantly change and experiment.
ES. Your first event must be a memory that you would cherish forever. We would love to know about the story.
Tanya Pinchuk. Our first event as ExpoPlatform was ArabPlast 2015 – a plastics exhibition in Dubai with 1,500 exhibitors and 25,000 visitors. It was an amazing experience working on the big show where we, being a very young platform, had to develop lots of new features overnight.
This is where I fully realized the importance of what we do – in meaningfully connecting thousands of buyers and sellers we help specific industries to grow and progress. We’ve done so many different events in diverse regions and industries since then, but I still remember the first one so clearly as I was there in person and involved in every single step of how our tech was used.
ES. With each role, comes different responsibilities, how do you minimize your role conflict and time pressures that lead to daily stress and strain? On a personal note, we are curious to know what keeps you busy when you are away from work?
Tanya Pinchuk. In our company, we try to promote life balance values and I am always happy to hear that our employees have joys and successes in their family life and free time. I use the same tactic for myself. The thing that I try to practice in my personal life is being in the here and now. I have two daughters, aged four and six, who are my indicators of right and wrong. They quickly reflect my actions and behavior and I try to analyze and change what is possible. I love the mutual learning process. I teach them to be curious and enjoy the new things they learn. In return, they teach me how to be a better version of me and to build more patience and kindness.
Also, I have a secret solution to overcome stress and overload – namely working with my husband, who is our CTO and co-founder of the company. I know for some people it doesn’t work, but in our case it’s great to be constantly on the same page and to share both good and bad with each other. I heard from many business people that sometimes they feel they have to deal with problems alone and it’s hard to cope with the ongoing stress. I am lucky to be able to discuss things with someone I trust 100%, although we still struggle to completely avoid business topics at home.
ES. In your view, what challenges have engulfed this sector, and what solutions would you suggest to overcome them?
Tanya Pinchuk. Legacy and habits are the main problems, in my view. Lots of power and the biggest share of world exhibitions is concentrated in the hands of huge players. These are companies with well established processes in place. It’s always difficult to get rid of or reshape something that we see has worked well before. However, this doesn’t mean we can’t do it better. The industry is tied to the success of the latest event and overcoming this short-term thinking and short planning horizon will require creating product teams that work on refining what we do and experimenting with what can be changed.
ES. What message would you like to share with the industry?
Tanya Pinchuk. As an industry, we are an exciting community of people who really care, who innovate and who play an essential role in connecting business minds and ideas in every single part of the world economy.