Speak to anyone you know and they’ve been to or been invited to some sort of virtual event. From virtual drinks with colleagues or friends to global networking sessions run on glitchy systems that make you feel like you’re back in the early 2000s playing computer games.
The surprising thing is that most virtual events are difficult and very expensive to build. That might all change now though, as GEVME has come up with a product that resembles a modern website builder tool like Wix and they say it will change how virtual events are created. The modular solution is integrated with design, content and audience engagement tools, as well as supporting external apps, giving event organisers full control of how their virtual venue looks and functions. They also included a venue store, which allows event owners to purchase premade 2D and 3D venue templates that have been created to suit different event needs, and can be further personalized to additional specifications.
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We spoke to Jonathan Easton who is the VP of Design over at GEVME about their new product and wat it would mean for the virtual events industry.
Why did you create a virtual event builder? What was the reason behind this product?
The virtual event builder really came as a natural step, based on what was happening on the ground here at GEVME — what was being required by our customers and their projects. Our customers typically consist of agencies, corporate and businesses, and they tend to require more unique and customised virtual experiences. That’s why we looked into building the virtual event builder: First, to give them that sort of customisability they require, and secondly, to make it easy-to-use, so that, as much as possible, the end-user can do things by themselves.
Broadly speaking, there were two ways people can build virtual events: Going the whole customised way, and doing everything by yourself by patching different services together, building something from ground up; or, totally out-of-the-box — and in which case, your event would typically look like everyone else’s. There was a gap between these two ways of building events — the uniqueness of building from scratch, and the convenience of an out-of-the-box solution — and that’s where the Virtual Event Builder fits.
Could you run us through how it works?
Our Virtual Event Builder is based on the concept of virtual venues and building blocks. For our 2D event builder, we’ve built it to work like modular website builders such as Wix or Squarespace: We provide you with a set of building blocks that are specifically designed for virtual events, live streaming and live interactions, that you can put together and tweak according to your needs and tastes.
The 3D virtual venues are pre-built structures, from which you can get started. When you are creating a virtual event on our platform, you can choose from a selection of 3D venues which you can then customise by changing the blocks, editing the content, and tweaking the settings based on your needs.
How has the initial response been so far from events organisers and corporates?
The initial response has been pretty good! The Virtual Events Builder is a fresh perspective towards building virtual events, and I think it is something they appreciate. It takes some time for them to get familiar with, because of some of the new concepts we’ve been introducing, but it’s nothing that cannot be overcome — from a learning perspective, it is easy to pick up. We’ve been making it, as much as possible, intuitive to do-it-yourself, because that’s the kind of user that we have.
We try to fit into their existing workflow. They don’t have to subscribe for a new service — it’s all included, built-in to the platform. To give you an example: If you are doing the patchwork method, they have to look for a hosting provider, an email marketing service, and so on. There will be many potential points of failure, and it’s also tedious to tie together. In a way, we are simplifying the process for them, by having everything integrated on one platform — without compromising on the level of personalization. Furthermore, if they do have existing external apps and partners, we’ve also made sure that they can be integrated into our platform.
That said, we are nowhere near the end of our journey. We’re actively listening to feedback from our customers, and will be taking them in, and over time seeing how we can improve or tweak things.
Can you share more about the virtual community of creatives and builders?
The kind of members we are looking at for forming and building that community can be roughly categorised into two groups:
- Solution providers: these would be the event agencies providing services for running virtual events; creative agencies and web developers who build websites, and who may be interested in building virtual venues; and, freelancers — digital event managers, video producers, independent web developers and 3D designers — who are huge, talented group who could be a part of the community
- Solution seekers: Event owners and organisers — corporates, businesses, any companies looking at hosting their virtual events
Today, GEVME is focusing more on sharing of knowledge and expertise, and creating networking opportunities among them — but the next step we are looking at is creating a marketplace of virtual event services, all around the concept of virtual venues and events
What will the full product (with all the bells & whistles) look like in 24 months?
We think of it as work that will never be finished. It will always be a work in progress, with something new coming every-so-often. But, we also like to look at the bigger picture — not just the features within the product, but everything around it. Like I shared earlier, that would be things like the community and the sharing of expertise, and the marketplace — and bringing more virtual venues into the marketplace. The Venue Store is going to be something we will be growing.
From a features perspective, there is nothing that we are able to reveal at this point in time, but we are constantly listening to customers and their challenges, to understand what they need and want to achieve. Our whole reason for being is to help customers execute their virtual events and — especially for agencies — ensure they are able to express their creativity and ideas, and translate them into a virtual event. That’s what we are here to do.
What’s next for GEVME?
As I mentioned, the next thing would be very much along the lines of building up the community, marketplace and virtual venues, and getting all of the different players in the sector working together. That is something we feel is missing — there is so much expertise that is not being tapped into, and we want to be able to help bring everyone together and explore this potential.
From a bigger picture perspective: the vision for GEVME is really about helping shape the future of events. At this particular moment, it’s all about virtual, but you never know tomorrow what will be the new medium or channels through which events will be conducted or consumed. This is the kind of thing that we have on our radar, and think about constantly.