Patrick O’Malley is founder and Chief Product Officer of Lounjee, based in Paris. In an interview with IIBN, Patrick reveals that Lounjee is a platform that helps communities and event organizers grow their engagement and increase their revenue. We do this by creating private spaces where members can discover the other best-matched members of that community to connect to. Our virtual event solution is used by many professional event organizers around the world.
You can visit Lounjee here
What are your main priorities and goals in your role?
As Chief Product Officer, my main priority is to ensure that we are building a product that people care about.
What are your biggest challenges?
As a founder, time is always scarce.
How has your business strategy been adapted in the context of the Covid-19 crisis?
We already had a virtual event solution but we rapidly accelerated our development on that part of the platform.
As our product is a networking and virtual event product, we looked in our network to see who could help us with our sales and marketing. Many of our colleagues were suddenly out of work (for example, one successful restaurant entrepreneur) were happy to help us to reach out directly to event organizers who were cancelling or postponing their virtual events. In all, we have had 64 business partners join us in this way in the last 4 months on a commission-only basis and having great success.
What are the challenges facing your industry going forward?
The need for people to connect with their peers is very strong. Even with some places in lockdown and general trends toward less travel and more staying at home, organizations need to find virtual ways for new connections to be made.
What new trends are emerging in your industry?
In the event space, obviously many events are going virtual or hybrid (some people attending physically and some virtually).
The ability for event attendees to network by discovering other matches and connecting via chat or video calls is in huge demand – which we are well-placed to serve.
Now that event organizers have done many of their physical events in a virtual format, we see that now events are being programmed as virtual first. This means shorter sessions, designated time for interaction with experts/speakers and sponsor-led workshops, clinics and panels again being high-value in a shorter timeframe.
We are becoming more aware of ‘zoom fatigue’ where the toll of doing video conferences all day is something we have probably all experienced. Event organizers are doing shorter sessions and creating smaller intimate groups for shared event experience even more in the virtual world.
Are there any major changes you would like to see in your sector?
Yes. I would like to see it being easier to find and discover experts and/or people who can help you for specific work/career outcomes you are having this month. It’s what we are working towards at Lounjee.
Are you finding any skills gaps in the market?
No. We are a fully remote company. Removing that geographical restriction opens up a huge talent pool. Of course, we work hard to shape a culture which helps our remote teams succeed.
How will Brexit affect you, or have you started to feel the effects already?
We have a very international spread of clients – event organizers in Denmark, Turkey, France, Australia and so on so not highly affected.
How do you define success and what drives you to succeed?
Helping people to be ‘good’ at the things they care about is what success looks like to me.
I see the power of a good connection made every day. This drives me on.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given, or would give, in business?
The key to being successful is to help others be successful.
What have been your highlights in business over the past year?
We raised money during a difficult time and brought to market an exceptional community and event product. Revenue has also increased hugely, but that’s a lagging indicator of our real achievements.
What’s next for your company?
Lounjee will raise VC before the end of the year.
What opportunities or plans for growth do you see in 2020/21?
We see a trend where event organizers are transforming those events into communities.Particularly if you have one big event a year, it’s such a shame to do no engagement in between.The events business needs to develop new revenue models, charging for small webinars, access to experts and memberships. We intend to help them to grow their engagement and revenue streams.
Where do you want your business/brand to be this time next year?
We already see increasing market awareness, but by this time next year we would like anyone involved in events or communities to be aware of what we are and what we do.
We anticipate over a million attendees during that time and we’re excited to see that.