The green event platform

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When walking out of an event, you’ve often got your pockets full of lanyards, the odd free pen, and more importantly, business cards galore. While most people are likely to add them to a pile in a drawer, Poken, has decided to go one step further, by not only collecting things but connecting people on a green digital platform. “With Poken it’s possible to go green while boosting almost every aspect of an event, since the digital ‘touch’ makes it so easy to network and obtain qualified leads,” Stephane Doutriaux founder of Poken tells EN. The firm provide the tools and technology for trade show managers, exhibitors and event organisers to create interactive and exciting events, while measuring their ROI through the use of Poken’s patented and brandable USB sticks. Doutriaux says these USB’s allow visitors to collect any information they’re interested in, with a touch. “Poken makes it possible for events of all sizes (generally 400 visitors to over 20,000 visitors) to go green. By touching their USB-stick poken to another poken, visitors exchange business cards with each other or with an exhibitor. “By touching their poken to a digital sticker (Touchpoint) on an exhibitor’s booth or in the conference hall, they collect digital documents (the presenter’s slide deck, product information, etc). “Since everyone in an event gets equipped with a give-away ‘reader’ attached to their badge (the small USB-memory-stick-form-factor Poken device), it creates an environment where everyone networks a lot more and engages with exhibitors on a whole other level.” The firm originally focused on boosting networking, and connecting the real world with all the burgeoning online tools such as LinkedIn and Dropbox, that make business follow up much more efficient. “I started thinking: Why are most of the people I am connected with on LinkedIn not the ones I have actually interacted with in the real world? I get digital invites from people I’ve never met, but all the people I meet that are relevant to my business, rarely make it into my LinkedIn because it’s so tedious to search and connect with each person individually,” he adds. “The idea behind Poken was to be able to ‘poke’ people and things (documents) and that they would then just magically be stored in my online business tools. That’s pretty much what we have achieved.” More than 1,600 event clients have used Poken’s tool set for live events in the past 18 months, as the firm caters worldwide, with local teams located in the USA, Switzerland, France, the UK, Mexico (covering LatAm), South Africa, Dubai and Saudi Arabia. Poken can count the likes of travel industry trade show Indaba, American Express Meetings & Events, Fira de Barcelona, UBM and Novartis as key clients. “We are particularly proud of our work with the International Olympic Committee – the past two editions of the Youth Olympic Games (Innsbruck 2012, Nanjing 2014) used Poken as the core web, mobile, and visitor engagement platform.” Expanding further, the firm recently joined forces with leading service provider for exhibitions and events in France, Tech-Event, to provide advanced ‘touch-to-collect’ technology to the French events market. While working side-by-side on a number of shows the two companies found their teams had great synergies and enjoyed working together. “This merger will boost the collaboration on sales, marketing, and event deployment. We’re keen to find similar partners in other countries,” he says. “From a product perspective we want to continue building the key features that make it relevant for every event to use Poken. Our original challenge was that we provided digital business card swapping, but we weren’t well integrated into the basic, yet mandatory processes: registration, badge issuance, exhibitor management platforms. “For the past 18 months we have been able to cater completely seamlessly to almost any event, having integrated with all registration platforms, and built enough of the core event tech pieces ourselves that we can deliver what most legacy event technology players can, but with better results.” From a business perspective, Doutriaux says, Poken hopes to continue with its fast-paced growth. “The industry has reacted with surprise, and excitement with our products. “I think that many people sensed that this kind of tool would be useful for all event stakeholders, but nobody had come up with the right mix: the right set of tools and the right business model.” This article was first published in the November issue of EN. Any comments? Email Annie Byrne
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