Making the Most of Meeting Metrics
"It seems like a small problem," said Greg Skloot '12, "but it's such a pain for people who organize events."
Skloot is talking about the challenge many conference sponsors have: how to print nametags quickly and, more importantly, how to collect key attendance metrics. To solve this problem, Skloot started a management software company called Attendware while still a business administration student at D'Amore-McKim.
Skloot came up with the idea as president of Northeastern's fast-growing Entrepreneurs Club (E-Club). Each week the group attracted hundreds of members to its meetings and events. However, Skloot found it difficult to draw conclusions from the vast array of email lists and sign-in sheets documenting the club's membership.
"I would look at the sea of people and think to myself, 'I don't know who these people are. Are they freshmen, or are they seniors? Are they business majors? Are they here for the first time, or are they people who keep coming back?'" Skloot recalled. "At the time, the only way to figure all that out was to go through all our documents, a process that was really long and messy."
Skloot set out to solve the problem in his free time, building the initial prototype while still a student. He designed a Web interface that allowed guests to sign in easily to an event, collecting and cataloging the data in the process. After graduation, he began to turn that prototype into a business.
His First Big Break
In October 2012, the venture accelerator MassChallenge used Skloot's program for its 1,400-guest awards dinner at the Massachusetts Convention Center. MassChallenge asked for two things: access to the same login and data collection system Skloot had developed for the E-Club, and the functionality to print nametags at check-in.
"They asked us for a contract, and that's really the moment when the whole thing turned into a real business," Skloot said.
In January, Northeastern hired Attendware to provide event support services for departments including Alumni Relations, which had been looking for a new system to keep track of exactly who attended its events.
"Northeastern was our first big customer and gave us a lot of great feedback about what it needed from our service and how we could better serve the university," Skloot said. "This was a really great case study of Northeastern doing good for its alumni."
Since then, Attendware has steadily increased its client list, working primarily with universities and nonprofit organizations. Things have gone so well, in fact, that in summer 2013 Attendware announced it had received a $1 million investment from .406 Ventures here in Boston.
Watch Greg describe his journey from D'Amore-McKim student to CEO and founder of Attendware.