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50 Smartest Companies of the Year 2020

Events.com is changing the world of events.

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“COVID is a massive global challenge that we all face together, and the most important thing is for us to support our customers through this period and during the recovery phase safely and effectively.”

— Mitch Thrower, CEO of Events.com

Events.com is turning the event management landscape on its head by providing organizers technology to operate more efficiently and generate more revenue.

For the buzzword lovers, it’s a mobile-first event management and registration with an open API (application programming interface) platform to help organizers manage, market, and monetize everything from low-key fundraisers to massive festivals and marathons. It provides end-to-end event management solutions, including participant lead generation, merchandise sales, managing sponsorship, and marketing. Essentially, for the no-buzzword crew, it helps organisers make more money and save time. It also helps participants and sponsors find, interact, and transact with events.

Events.com helps event organizers cash in on the trillion-dollar ‘experience economy’. The company has invested over $30 million in building optimized event management software and is preparing a massive market launch.

Interview Excerpt: Mitch Thrower & Stephen Partridge

Endurance Entrepreneurship

When 22-time Ironman athlete and serial entrepreneur Mitch Thrower and Olympic swimming hopeful and skilled business operator, Stephen Partridge, first connected, they were intent on building something big. They had the vision to create a community and company that would harness the energy and passion of a fast-growing sector.

First, they researched and tested concepts they felt would gain traction and become modules for a larger platform. This included a connected car membership software, software in the civic space, and event ticketing and sponsorship technologies.

In hindsight, it was only a matter of time before the gravitational force of their wide-ranging collective backgrounds and resources in the event management field pulled the venture towards the center of the events ecosystem.

Thrower previously co-founded Active.com, a double unicorn that went public then private – ultimately selling twice for over a billion dollars. He was also the CEO of ActiveEurope, which led Active.com to launch in 27 countries, in multiple languages and currencies. He also served as chairman and was the owner of Triathlete Magazine, which became a part of Competitor Group, a worldwide event production company. Events are in his blood.

Mr. Partridge led EventsOnline to the largest market position in Canada and BibNumbers to a leader in North America. His team indexed the needs of the global event software industry at a granular level. He also ran one of the world’s largest equipment sites and magazines and was a leader in the web-to-print movement. Mr. Partridge also dedicated four years to help build StartupCanada into the nation’s most recognized entrepreneurship organization and helped shape the country’s budget. As a technologist and business leader who specializes in process-driven solutions at scale, solving big problems is in his DNA.

With their vision and concepts for the new venture blueprinted, now they needed a fitting name.

On a summer evening following a long client demo, Mr. Partridge stopped mid-step and declared, “the name’s easy, it’s Events.com”. They looked into the domain and found out that CBS owned it. “Every challenge is an opportunity,” said Mr. Thrower. “Let’s start the process.”

Leave it to two disciplined athletes and business executives to wrestle with one of the most iconic brand names from one of the biggest media companies in the world. Soon, they owned the name.

Several years, a few bumps and false starts later, Mr. Partridge and Mr. Thrower remain at the helm of the company that is revolutionizing the event management software industry. Events.com has been recognized for exceptional innovation in its practices and offerings. The company received ‘Comparably’ awards as one of the top nationwide companies for professional development in 2020 and the best company culture in 2019.

In the beginning, Mr. Partridge and Mr. Thrower were seen as disruptors. Today, along with their handpicked team, they are industry game-changers. Greatness attracts greatness and this is obvious when reviewing the company’s roster of notable investors and advisory board that includes Google Chairman Eric Schmidt via Tomorrow Ventures, Chris Burch from Burch Creative Capital, Alex Ok from Extol Capital, Joe Lonsdale via Anduin, Raj Doshi, former Head of Strategy for the Americas for Google, Tal Kerret from Silverstein Properties along with super angel Hany Girgis, the former Head of SGIS.thesiliconreview-mitch-thrower-events-com-20

Company advisors include Billy Gerber, producer of Academy-Award-nominated ‘A Star is Born’ and former President of Warner Brothers.; Andrew Kosove, who produced the Academy Award-nominated ‘The Blind Side’ and was co-CEO of Alcon Entertainment; Tony Finn, Founder of Liquid Force and the architect of the sport of Wakeboarding; Jonathan Spalter, former White House Chief Information Officer (CIO) and current president of US Telecom; Calvin Johnson, (Megatron) a global sports icon and financier, Bob Bellack formerly of Dragon Global, Cars.com and Apartment.com; Terry Moore from Moore Venture Partners; and Conrad Riggs, former Global Head of non-scripted Programming for Amazon.

COVID-19 and the Events Ecosystem

Given the recent pandemic, small and large business owners in the event space have been heavily impacted. Events.com is stepping up to help event organizers and event participants through this challenging period. One of the primary missions of Events.com is to help event organizers make more money and save time. Event organizers are using many disparate point systems that don’t communicate with each other, but Events.com’s SaaS platform allows organizers to save time by consolidating and solving their needs with one solution. The technology also helps the organizers generate more revenue through sponsorships and additional revenue streams that other event-related platforms are unable to do.

While mindful of the extent of the challenge and with a focus on safety, Mr. Thrower and Mr. Partridge also view the pandemic as an opportunity. “COVID is a massive global challenge that we all face together, and the most important thing is for us to support our customers through this period and during the recovery phase safely and effectively,” said Mr. Thrower. “What is interesting about most periods of crises is that they tend to open up markets and opportunities for growth. When this first happened, our entire team immediately went into action.”

“Saving time and making more money is even more important now for event organizers as they re-start their businesses,” said Mr. Partridge. After COVID, hundreds of thousands of event organizers will be looking for new solutions as their legacy contracts expire and technologies advance. Many of the platforms in use today make events harder to manage and less profitable. Events.com is designed to make organizers’ lives easier and to help them generate more revenue.

The Events.com team reacted quickly by acquiring a company that helps events with sponsorships, deploying a virtual event directory, and forming a virtual events team. Events.com rapidly launched virtual and hybrid event technologies, along with features that helped organizers postpone or reschedule events, communicate with attendees, and transition events to a virtual experience.

“We’re focused on turning a once-in-a-lifetime challenge into a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said

Mr. Partridge. “The world will certainly get back together, and we feel it’s not a matter of if, but when. We’re here to help that happen safely and with the right technology to support our organizers and participants.”

The Events Category

Despite this temporary and significant setback for the event industry, the world has been moving from the need for material items to the desire for experiences. When New Zealand brought events back online, 15-year attendance records were broken. Though the pandemic certainly changes 2020 and 2021, the industry should get back on track, potentially exceeding Insight Partners’ growth projections in event management software from $5.8B in 2018 to $21.3B by 2027 -- or a 16 percent CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate.)

“There are a few categories with that much of growth expectation,” said Mr. Partridge. “Events are not a trend; they are a way of life. The recently-mandated isolation and social distancing has created a global pent up demand for events. We’re building and enhancing the technology to help the world get back together.”