Co-founder and Product Designer
ImpromptMe has always been on a mission to empower people to create meaningful human connections. I spent 3 years creating the product, discussing it with users, setting the company values, defining market positioning, I went through lots of testing and changes in the startup’s strategy to deliver the best fit for the market and our customers. We started as a social community-building app, which later transformed into the conference networking platform and when COVID-19 disrupted the conference industry at the beginning of 2020, the startup evolved into a platform serving virtual conferences. Currently, ImpromptMe provides conference planners with a platform for hybrid conferences - virtual venue & event app - which creates the bridge between virtual & physical attendees. Constant evolution and the ability to adapt to the market is crucial for the startup to survive on the battlefield.
I joined the ImpromptMe team in the phase of the ImpromptMe Community. The team at that time was building an app that aimed to help its users to meet someone physically as fast as possible without spending too much time chatting within the app. Users just chose someone from their surroundings, picked one of the locations offered by the app (pub, bar, or restaurant) and scheduled a meeting for a specific time. The team launched the app on the market but people didn't use it in a way they expected them. Users kept clicking on the wrong places and didn't discover some functionalities. Therefore, when I joined, we user tested the app and improved the core functionalities. However, we decided to move backward as well and define the market positioning and potential customer’s needs via in-person qualitative interviews.
Based on the results of interviews, we defined user personas: the professional networker, the social networker and the hangouter. Our target group was very wide. During conducting the research we were still more and more aware of the need to focus on one specific purpose of the app. We found out we need to provide to our customers a certain value. Our other colleagues were presenting the app at the conferences and gaining opinions there. They meanwhile discovered a poor functionality of conference networking apps as well. Putting these findings together, we decided to move our positioning to the conference business, specifically networking at the conferences.
Defining market positioning
Becoming a conference platform moved us from B2C to B2B segment. We narrowed the target group of the users of the product to conference attendees, while on the other hand, we gained a new target group, conference organizers. So we were deciding who to focus on when creating the product functionalities and marketing strategies. Through time, we figured out “the client is the one who pays” so we focused our attention on the organizers. Based on personal interviews and discussions we kept redefining our target group in hand with how was the product evolving. ImpromptMe is currently focusing on event agencies and frequent organizers since we found out these groups are capable of bringing us orders frequently and they are also relatively easy to approach. Through this one and similar ongoing processes, I learned it’s of extreme importance to have defined priorities, but on the other hand to constantly monitor if they need to be changed.
Defined with the help of Happy End Agency
Defining the company’s values and DNA
We started to define corporate values just after being on the market for some time. However, we already had some values, we just had to think back on how are we acting on the market and towards our customers and also among us. A further step was to envision how we would like to be perceived in the future in connection with our product and positioning on the market.
All-in-one hybrid platform
High level of personalization
Belonging (to the community)
Defined with the help of Júlia Michálekova and Uplift Incubator in Bratislava
We decided to develop the product in a very agile way. There were two reasons we backed it with. First, like every startup, we were fighting with a shortage of finances. We needed to get the product on the market as fast as possible, to be able to gain some use cases for next customers and investors. Of course, it was a risky step to bring a beta version to the public. We got lots of suggestions we already had on the road map and many complaints. The advantage was, it allowed us to conduct guerilla user testing for free in an early stage of the product, improve the functionalities we were working on and gain some awareness as well. Second, we had a core networking functionality that differentiated us on the market. The best way how to test this functionality was to test it in an authentic environment and timeframe. This way we continued with the development and kept improving step by step, conference by conference.
Core functionality - Networking
The core functionality of ImpromptMe Conference is still networking as in the previous version of the app. The problem we observed in many conference apps was that the attendees struggled with creating and managing meetups. They were mainly able to create them just via chat. This method is ok while meeting a few people, but highly inefficient when attendees plan to significantly enlarge their network during the conference. Managing a higher amount of meetups was frustrating as well.
That’s why we integrated the 1on1 networking module to ImpromptMe. It allows attendees of the conference to match with the best fit for their network and meet as efficiently as possible.
Adjustable filtering options based on the profile customization, as well as the privacy settings enabling attendees to decide who can and cannot invite them, serve this purpose. The booking algorithm matches the attendees’ agendas. It also takes into consideration the time availability & preferences of both attendees, so the double-booking is prevented. Meeting spots are easily assigned by the app algorithm or keep space for the human decision just with the small help of the app. Human autonomy is the principle we kept in mind. We wanted algorithms to be helpful, but not to overtake human decisions.
Filtering potential invitees
Who is the attendee choosing
When will the meetup happen
Where are they meeting
The rest of the modules of the app and the web app were necessary to enter the conference platforms' market. Program and workshops attendees can add to their agendas. When booking the meetup, the algorithm matches both user’s agendas. Highly customizable My profile, or Sponsors and Exhibitors section to help promote them in virtual space as well.
Organizer’s portal - Highly customizable product
The number of conferences, the number of different needs of their organizers and attendees. When creating the ImpromptMe platform, the challenge was how to make the structure and the interface highly customizable and adjustable for varying types of conferences and attendees, different levels of privacy of certain events, numerous needs for networking, various ways how attendees are entering the event, being on place or connecting to the event from a distant location. All these needs are mirrored in the product. To allow organizers to assemble the platform according to their requirements, we created the Organizer’s portal. It also serves as an administrative interface, to make even last-minute changes in the schedule, speaker’s details and other necessary updates and notifications for the attendees. When I stopped working on it, it was still in the beta phase as a prototype, being tested and improved.
We were guiding organizers through the process of creating the platform and communicating it to their attendees too.
When COVID-19 hit the market, it was a big shock for the organizers, attendees and conference services providers as well. No one could say for sure how long the crisis will last and whether it makes sense to survive it or to evolve and begin to adapt to the new conditions. We have just participated in the program of startup incubator Startup Wise Guys, which gave us a good position to speak to many mentors, gain knowledge from investors and entrepreneurs in the SaaS industry and conference business as well. We quickly realized this is not just a short term crisis, but a change catalyst on many levels. Hence we decided to adapt to current conditions and strat to develop functionalities serving virtual conferences. The startup started to offer virtual meetups, round tables, video streams, and virtual exhibitors’ and sponsors’ booths. ImpromptMe is currently profiled as a Networking platform for Hybrid conferences, which are inevitably the future of the conference industry.