Real-Time Insights

Episode 48: Trading Tradition for Innovation and Growth feat. Jon Kazarian

In this episode, Jon Kazarian, Accelevents CEO, redefines event success by bridging the C-suite gap, streamlining operations, and discovering innovative solutions.

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Key Takeaways ⚡️

1️⃣ The disconnect between the C-suite and events team

Events teams are often measured solely based on leads or lead scans, without considering the true impact their work has on the business. This disconnect prevents an accurate assessment of whether an event was successful or not. Companies need to prioritize alignment and collaboration between the C-suite and the events team to evaluate the goals, target audience, differentiation, and communication of each event.


2️⃣ The power of ease of use in event software:

Live event management is already complex, so the tools used should not add to that complexity. It is essential to invest in software that is intuitive and doesn't require extensive training or a complicated manual to navigate. By empowering end users to execute tasks on their own, they can increase productivity, decrease operational load, and ultimately create a seamless experience for both organizers and attendees.

3️⃣ The need for creative innovation:

Tweaking and making small changes to existing event strategies is no longer enough. To stay relevant in the industry, companies must embrace creative innovation. This means stepping out of comfort zones and exploring new approaches to event planning and execution. By thinking outside the box and taking calculated risks, organizations can differentiate themselves and adapt to the ever-changing landscape of the events industry.


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Guest Information 🎙️

Jon Kazarian, CEO @ Accelevents



Read the Transcript 📚

[00:00:00] Intro: Welcome to Corralling the Chaos podcast, where we talk publicly about the things you're worried about privately. My name is Angela Alea, and I'm your host. This is the event industry podcast for companies and crew, where we're going to go deep and nothing is off limits.

[00:00:22] Angela Alea: Today I have with me a very special guest. Jon Kazarian is the founder and CEO of Accelevents, which is a leading event management platform recently recognized by Inc. 5000 as a top 100 fastest growing private company in America. First of all, congrats on that also. Yeah, that's, that's exciting. That's a hard list to make.

[00:00:45] So congrats on that. Yeah. Small feet. But as CEO, Jon is also focused on leading the company's vision of helping event organizers and marketing. Professionals transform their events through innovative technology [00:01:00] solutions. And that word innovative is going to be the center of our topic today. But as an industry thought leader, Jon actively publishes insights on the events landscape and frequently speaks at industry events such as event and bees, event, tech innovation, summit, biz bash.

[00:01:16] Live and inbound, and I had the pleasure of recently spending some time with him at Sastr, which is kind of what led us here. So welcome, Jon. Thanks for joining us today.

[00:01:26] Jon Kazarian: Yeah, thanks for having me on. Hopefully we can continue the conversation from Sastr.

[00:01:29] Angela Alea: Yeah, absolutely. Well, that's, that's really what I wanted to kind of dig in.

[00:01:33] So I know in a lot of our conversations we were talking about kind of the old way. Versus the new way. And for whatever reason and our lovely industry, a lot of people get stuck on the old way. Although I think certainly COVID and in the past few years has kind of forced people to innovate more.

[00:01:50] So I know we're going to kind of dig in there, but before we do that first, tell us a little bit more about you and kind of how you found excellence. What

[00:01:56] Jon Kazarian: led you there? Yeah. So started the company about [00:02:00] nine years ago and. kind of fell into it a little bit. I was actually working at a hedge fund and I was doing some smaller events for the, for the hedge fund I was working at.

[00:02:10] But in 2014, my cousin at the age of 17 got diagnosed with cancer and I wanted to do something for her. So I was living in Boston at the time and decided to rent out the aquariums. Put my credit card down. I had to sell a hundred and. 80 tickets to break even basically to be able to pay my credit card bill.

[00:02:31] And we ended up getting 840 people to that first event, but going into it, I was just battling tech the whole way. And I couldn't find solutions that either had good support, had the features or the customization we required and realized that look, events are hard enough. Technology needs to be there to make life easier for event organizers.

[00:02:50] And then. That turned into spending the past nine years building solutions to do just that. And today we work primarily with conferences and trade shows [00:03:00] across corporate associations and higher ed.

[00:03:03] Angela Alea: So tell us a little bit more about like who exactly, tell us some more about kind of your ideal customer.

[00:03:08] Who, who are the ones that you work closest with?

[00:03:10] Jon Kazarian: Yeah, so we're working with event marketers and event managers at, at companies those companies tend to be putting on a mix, so they have an event program, but it tends to start with conferences often will be brought in because they need a solution for their conferences or their trade shows, which are the most complex events in their annual program, the events like the field marketing events, user groups, the smaller meetups, there's not as much that goes into that, but often organizers are thinking about their program over the whole year.

[00:03:40] Yeah. And they want a centralized system that's fully integrated with the rest of the tech stack to manage the entire life cycle of events and all of the the data that they're able to capture from those events.

[00:03:52] Angela Alea: Is it a crowded

[00:03:53] Jon Kazarian: space? It's a lot less crowded than it was in 2021. Yeah. That's for sure.

[00:03:58] Why is that? [00:04:00] There was a lot of bandwagon fans in 2021. A lot of people that saw how much money was getting raised and they said, me too. And they went out there and. Pitched an idea. We were able to raise a lot of VC money based on just that and never host an event. So again, there's a lot of entrants because of that.

[00:04:18] There's been a lot of consolidation over the past 18 months. And I think we're going to see even a little bit more of that to come. But today, the, the players that are really relevant for those tier tier two, tier one conferences, it's five or six different companies, ourselves included.

[00:04:37] Angela Alea: Yeah, what I think is interesting about that, and probably played a big part into your growth, which kind of, Led you to being named in the Inc. 5000 is I feel like in this industry There's a lot of barriers to entry you kind of have to have lived the problem to effectively solve it and to know how to do It so I think you know just in the story you shared with the aquarium you lived it you saw the problem You're like, hey, there's not a lot of good [00:05:00] solutions out there.

[00:05:00] So you decide to go build it So I think that's that's a big differentiator for people in our

[00:05:05] Jon Kazarian: industry Yeah. And I'll, I'll take those steps further because you're not going to live every scenario. I think the most important part when you're building technology for event people is that you. You've lived the experience enough to have the empathy to know why those intricacies matter and the amount of time that gets wasted, the amount of frustration that gets created when the solution isn't there to streamline those processes.

[00:05:29] Angela Alea: Yeah, empathy is certainly a big part when you're building any software. You kind of got to feel their pain and then also be curious enough to, to understand it even more at a deeper level to your point, right? There's no way to experience every aspect of it, but you had, you've, you've had to experience enough of it to then be curious to kind of fill in the missing pieces.

[00:05:51] So I think that's, I think that's fantastic. And I love how your company, I know when we were talking at Sastr and I know part of what we're talking about today is innovation. Tell the audience what [00:06:00] you did at Inbound because our team met your team because we had a team up at Inbound as well while I was out at SAFSTRA.

[00:06:06] But tell them a little bit about how you approached that event in an innovative way.

[00:06:11] Jon Kazarian: Yeah. So we have a little bit of home court advantage in Boston. I'm from Boston. We have a couple of other people in Boston. Half of my high school works at HubSpot. And one of our sales, our director of sales has this like, it's called a Freedom Boat Club.

[00:06:25] It's like the zip car of boats. And they just happened to have a location that's a seven minute walk from the convention center in Boston where Inbound took place. So we, using our platform, set up an approval workflow where people could basically apply to come out for a boat ride. We took them for a one hour lap around Boston Harbor, which is like, if you've never been to Boston, it's the best part of the city.

[00:06:46] It's incredible. The views are unreal. The history is really cool. So it's just a great opportunity to get people together. But they were like small, intimate groups. We had two people on our team. 10 others on each boat and and we just curated this [00:07:00] really close group of people that could come together and have these conversations around events around marketing while experiencing the city.

[00:07:06] And we did all of this for, I think we took out, we had 92 registrants and we took out 70 something people for under 500. It's

[00:07:15] Angela Alea: amazing. Yeah. I love that. I love the creativity. And again, I know our team participated and they sent me pictures. I'm like, wait a second. I was just talking to Jon about that. I know exactly what you're, what you're doing up there.

[00:07:26] I think that's awesome. I think you and

[00:07:27] Jon Kazarian: I were at our seventh dinner at pinstripes and they're cruising around Boston Harbor.

[00:07:31] Angela Alea: Exactly. Exactly. Sastr was a fun time too, though. For sure. Well, as we were prepping for this episode, we asked you a question around kind of what your biggest frustration in the industry is.

[00:07:44] And I want to read your exact answer and then I want us to talk about it. Your exact answer was a failure to identify why they're hosting an event, number one, so understanding the why, and then how to execute towards that specific goal. So talk to [00:08:00] us more about that. Tell us why that's such a frustration and how do we go about fixing that?

[00:08:04] Jon Kazarian: Yeah, I think it stems from a disconnect from the C suite. To the events team, and I mean, you see this and hear about this most frequently with the way that events people are measured, and often it's just pure leads or lead scans in a booth. It's not it's not the, the actual impact that they're, they're making on the business.

[00:08:23] So when it comes to the issue around the why, I think once companies hit a certain scale, they feel obligated to host events and it literally stops there. There's not the conversation around what's the goal of this event? Who's the target audience? How are we going to make this event different than the other events in the industry?

[00:08:43] And how are we going to communicate that to the potential attendees of this event? And then it just becomes this focus on almost blind execution and these activations that aren't tied back to a core principle of why the event is taking place in the first [00:09:00] place. And what happens is then at the end of the event, you look back and again, you measure on some vanity metric, like number of registrations or number of leads generated that don't necessarily translate into what you were hoping would accomplish, be accomplished from that event.

[00:09:16] And it creates a disconnect again between C suite. And the event, event team, where you can't actually say if it was successful or not.

[00:09:25] Angela Alea: So what are, if we're going to move away from the vanity metrics, cause I agree, everyone kind of comes to the table with the same thing and then you're right, you're like a deer in headlights when you say, well, why is that important to you?

[00:09:34] Well, I don't know. It's just cause that's what, that's what we've always measured on. So if we're going to move away from the vanity measurements and metrics, what, what are some of the measurements they should be thinking about? Well,

[00:09:45] Jon Kazarian: if we're going to call, say, registration a vanity metric, I want to be clear with the difference between an event that is hosted by a brand versus an event where the business that's hosting the event, they're primarily in the business of running events.

[00:09:59] Because in that [00:10:00] case, you're generating revenue primarily through sponsorship and it's no longer a vanity metric. The number of impressions that you can get for the brands that are sponsoring your event is critical. to the event. When you're running a brand event, it's quality, quality of the people that are attending there.

[00:10:17] Are these customers that you have the opportunity to upsell? Are they prospects that you can get over the finish line? Is there an opportunity to put customers in front of prospects to get them over the finish line? So, if you're focused more from the perspective of a brand and measuring success there, One of the things that we always suggest people look at is expansion revenue within the book from people that attended the event versus folks that didn't.

[00:10:38] And I'll give you an example, one way that you can really capture data from events to better understand where upside expansion opportunities are. So let's say you're in an organization like HubSpot, right? You've got multiple product lines, sales, CRM, service. You might have customers that are already on your CRM product, but you notice that when they're attending your events, [00:11:00] 40 percent of the sessions they went to were related to your service hub product.

[00:11:03] That should be triggering a flow for your account managers so they're actively going out and trying to get to the bottom of what stemmed that curiosity for those folks. And then you're able to measure, okay, this was, this was expansion revenue influence from this customer event.

[00:11:21] Angela Alea: So if you're the event production company.

[00:11:25] Tasked with whether it's the creative or the execution, how should they be building in an understanding of how to do that better? Like, how do they challenge that event owner to think about the successful outcome differently or how they should be measuring that? Like if you sat in their shoes and somebody came to them and said, Hey, we want you to put together the creative for this, the execution for it.

[00:11:49] How do they challenge those companies to think about that differently?

[00:11:53] Jon Kazarian: Yeah, so I think the first thing I would ask is get in writing. What's the goal of this event? Like what what is the quantifiable measure of success [00:12:00] of this event and then? Challenge the person who wrote that down your customer and say okay if you hit that number Are you going to get expansion budget for this or that next year?

[00:12:09] Mm hmm?

[00:12:10] Angela Alea: Yes, so asking them Why why is that the goal? What does it mean? Why is that important? What are you gonna if you hit it? What does that mean for you? If you don't hit it, what does that mean for you?

[00:12:20] Jon Kazarian: Exactly. Got it. And if, if it's a vanity metric, it makes you feel good. Cause you had a certain number of attendees there that doesn't translate into more cashflow for the business.

[00:12:30] That's going to get you an expanded budget and able to do more next year. So really get to the root of why are we hosting this event and how is it going to drive the business forward?

[00:12:38] Angela Alea: So why has that, why has the need to challenge customers in that way changed so drastically? I feel like it's always been done that way years before.

[00:12:47] It's like, great, if that's what your metric is, great, we can help you do that. Could care less, right, if you hit, not care less if you hit it or not. But why, why are they so attached to challenging the customer to think about [00:13:00] it differently? Why has that mindset changed?

[00:13:02] Jon Kazarian: Because the organization itself has become more data centric on quantifying marketing activity, and this really got accelerated as a result of virtual events during COVID where everything became a lot more measurable.

[00:13:15] Yeah. But the other thing that happened during that same period of time is the changes with the effectiveness of digital advertising and the reduction third party cookie tracking, which has taken people that are historically demand gen marketers. and their role has grown is, is grown within the marketing organization, but it's also shifted some of their focus to look more holistically at the impact of events and events make up 20 to 25%, some cases 30% of B two B marketing budget.

[00:13:40] So it's a huge chunk, right? You've got this, this demand gen marketing marketer who's a very quantitative person now assessing the success of events from that lens. And that's just changed the way that events are measured.

[00:13:55] Angela Alea: Yeah. I feel like the innovation in Martech has probably spawned a lot [00:14:00] of this, right?

[00:14:00] Like the data people are tracking is very different than before because you actually now can track those things. And so Martech, I feel like changes so, so fast. So the smarter these companies get and the more they're investing in that further, they're going to dig to kind of understand the ROI, if they're going to put budget dollars behind it.

[00:14:18] Which again, back to that word, innovation things are changing very, very quickly and you're either going to keep up. Or you're going to be left out, kind of like those are the two options. So that's important. Well, let's talk a little bit about the traditional conference model. And I know that's something that you have said in the past, should probably be re evaluated.

[00:14:38] So I'd love to know how you think it should change in your opinion.

[00:14:43] Jon Kazarian: Yeah, so I think Sastr we brought, talked about Sastr already. I think they did a fantastic job of this because it was almost like this hybrid conference trade show combined. And I'll tell you, their podcast is one of my favorite podcasts.

[00:14:56] I intentionally didn't go to the sessions because I [00:15:00] love, like when I go for a run, I listen to that

[00:15:02] Angela Alea: podcast. Yes, you're right. I didn't

[00:15:03] Jon Kazarian: want to run out of content to listen to. Yeah. But because there's so many other formats for accessing that content now. It almost makes the content less of the function of the event.

[00:15:14] And what's so important is it's, it's the people, right? Yeah. How do you get access to the people that you want to be with? And how do you make sure that your time doing so is efficient? And it's vendors. That show in particular, a lot of people are there because they actually want to meet the vendors that are there.

[00:15:31] That's a good thing. And they've done a great job curating an audience around just that and creating an environment where that's possible. Do you think

[00:15:39] Angela Alea: most event organizers miss that opportunity and instead it's just about sponsorship dollars versus the right sponsorship

[00:15:46] Jon Kazarian: dollars? A hundred percent.

[00:15:48] And it's the format and how you do it, right? Like, nobody wants like a Comdex 1978 square booth trade show floor boring environment anymore. Like, we want to be engaged. We [00:16:00] want to be enticed. We want to be seeing creative ideas surrounded by interesting people that we can have a good conversation with and learn something.

[00:16:07] Mm hmm. It's as simple as that. And if you focus... If you focus on giving people an opportunity in an environment where they can do that and reduce the barrier to entry there, then you're going to make it an event that's a lot harder to replace because there's enough mechanisms for just accessing content.

[00:16:26] Angela Alea: So how does that look different? Not just the approach to sponsorships, but you mentioned SASTA, right, and how it was just done differently. Yeah. What are some other changes and patterns or trends that you're kind of seeing and how people are.

[00:16:41] Jon Kazarian: Yeah, well, one thing that we're seeing a ton of right now, and we talked about this with the boat rides or pinstripes is a, it's a bowling alley bar venue.

[00:16:50] That's right by sastr. The third party events are huge. When you're talking about a first call tier one event, an ecosystem event, like inbound or sastr, [00:17:00] the events that are the side events that are tacked on top of that are just phenomenal. They're so crucial to the entire experience and the most successful event organizers are putting that forward.

[00:17:11] They're really appreciating that. And they're going out of their way to promote those side events, because again, it's part of the ecosystem. And it doesn't necessarily mean you're going to generate more revenue because in many cases, companies are opting to do a side event instead of directly sponsoring the event.

[00:17:27] But more people are going to the event because they know they need to be at those side events. So less

[00:17:33] Angela Alea: content, more connection, more opportunities for that connection to happen.

[00:17:36] Jon Kazarian: Yeah. And it's creating, it's creating organic opportunities for it. It's it's not the forced, it's not the necessarily the hosted buyer, like meet and greet six minutes, speed dating thing.

[00:17:49] It's, it's creating fun activations. And you're seeing this with like the tier one sponsorship packets today. I got a sponsorship package last week. It's 70 pages long. And of [00:18:00] that, probably 40 pages are the most. Like out there ideas on things that you can sponsor from the room key cards to actually boat cruisers being one of them And it's just around these different experiences that can bring people together And then the effort from the organizer to curate the people that are gonna be there when it's

[00:18:19] Angela Alea: I think companies have to get comfortable investing to your point in the experiences when you always when you can't always have a measurable outcome right if you are facilitating connections, right?

[00:18:32] If you're facilitating those experiences, sometimes that doesn't always equate into a quantitative result, right? Sometimes it has a much longer tail on it, but that typically can be a bigger driver for attendance and some of those other things.

[00:18:45] Jon Kazarian: Yeah, and we're seeing more technology out there today for tracking referral.

[00:18:52] So, so you register for event, you post your referral link and the ability to track who else. is is attending the event because of that. [00:19:00] But one metric that we never hear about is retention rate for attendees. It's so easy to track, and it's such a good testament to how successful that event was.

[00:19:08] Angela Alea: Yeah, that is your C set, right? If I'm satisfied, I'm coming back. And and I'm gonna bring people with me, and I'm gonna refer people to come with me, and yeah,

[00:19:16] Jon Kazarian: absolutely. Yeah, and I think back to another event that I was at a few months ago, and the organizer of that event sold a million dollars worth of tickets.

[00:19:26] On the second day of their event. So for the next event that was six months later, they'd sold a million dollars of tickets for that event. Just to Talk about immediate feedback, right? Yeah. And now you've got these people, you gave them a discount, they know your event style and format, they're advocates immediately, and they're out selling your event on their behalf.

[00:19:43] Because they want their community there, because it makes it more valuable to them too.

[00:19:47] Angela Alea: Yeah. Absolutely. Yep. There's that word community again. Well, so obviously Lassa, we're in the event tech space, you at Excel events, also in the event tech space. So I think it's [00:20:00] fair to say we each have a pretty large vested interest in the success of this space and building technology community.

[00:20:10] Is not inexpensive. It's not easy. It's not cheap. Very different than than a service model, right? And so, but tech often gets in the way sometimes more than it can help depending on that technology and how it's leveraged. So why do you think that is? And how do you think that issue could be eliminated as far as leveraging technology?

[00:20:32] Jon Kazarian: I think that the first place that it becomes more of a hindrance than a

[00:20:40] It's false hopes or expectations on what it's going to be able to do. It's when the technology doesn't quite go as far as it needs to, and then it creates a very time intensive manual task to finish the job. Mm hmm. And what we've set out to do from day one is, Basically this mantra that if we can help an organizer get an extra hour of [00:21:00] sleep the night before their event, then, then we're doing our job.

[00:21:02] So how can the technology be there to de stress, de risk, and save you time purely by executing on your behalf?

[00:21:10] Angela Alea: So how do you describe the ROI that Excel event brings to your customers? Like what is that quantitative kind of piece? I mean, you just talked about sleeping better at night. Obviously, that's important.

[00:21:21] Ease of use is important. But what, what's the ROI triggers that, that you all?

[00:21:26] Jon Kazarian: Yeah. Well because you brought up that ease of use aspect, I posted on LinkedIn the other day and I got like a hundred comments and I asked why why would you pick HubSpot over Salesforce? And every single time it's because I can get done what I need to do faster and easier and with less resources.

[00:21:46] I don't need an admin to help me do it. And I think the same is true for the event tech industry today where. Event people are the type of person who's going to go from designing a flyer to 20 feet in the air on a [00:22:00] ladder in the matter of 15 seconds. They want the power in their hands to control the experience the way that they need to do it.

[00:22:06] And they want somebody who recognizes the sense of urgency that comes with managing events. And that's what they're looking for in a technology partner. They want the power in their hands. They want to know they have the support when they need it. And as we think about where we deliver ROI for our customers, it's just that we help them get done what they need to faster.

[00:22:24] And we have 24, 7, 365 support. Median response times, less than 30 seconds. We're always there. And we treat your event with the same sense of urgency that you do. So that is a huge piece of it. The other aspect, and this gets more probably to the measurable part of ROI is. Everybody wants their event to be unique and different.

[00:22:45] And a lot of people have historically felt like you need to bolt together different technology solutions to do that. We're approaching this from the perspective of let's give you all the tools that you need in a flexible way, but all under one [00:23:00] roof with the same data stack so that you can do that all, but it creates a seamless experience for you and probably more important, it creates a seamless experience for your attendees.

[00:23:11] We've all been to events where like. You use one log in for registration and you use another log in to book your agenda and another log in for the app. So it's like, that experience shouldn't happen. Yeah.

[00:23:24] Angela Alea: Well, you said it earlier too. I mean, you just hit it again, right? It's, it's, it's ease of use. And you also alluded earlier in something similar that we say around here, we always say events are hard.

[00:23:32] Your software shouldn't be right. The name by nature of what they're doing and producing or hosting or organizing an event is really hard with a million different moving pieces. So the tools that you use to your point, it shouldn't take a whole manual to try to fit, you should be able to log in, know your way around, do your job without it being this whole thing to try to get up to speed and not being clunky to you.

[00:23:57] So I think that's a really important piece for our industry. It's just, just the ease [00:24:00] of use. Just make it easy. It

[00:24:01] Jon Kazarian: is, I mean, it's so true. And I think the other thing that happens is that you end up getting one power user with some of the more legacy platforms out there, you get a power user who knows this thing inside and out.

[00:24:14] They're an expert. They can do anything they possibly would ever want to do. They absolutely love the platform because they, they know it that well. And now it's day of the event and 15 people are asking them to do something because none of those other people can do the thing that they need to do on their own.

[00:24:29] And when you empower the end user to actually execute on their own, like HubSpot has done, it allows them to be more productive, it decreases your operational load, and it takes away that central point of failure who's inevitably going to be overwhelmed in the days leading up to your event.

[00:24:45] Angela Alea: Yeah. Because you're right, people aren't going to adopt it if it's too clunky and hard to use.

[00:24:48] Jon Kazarian: No, and one person becomes the expert and that becomes like their differentiator within the business.

[00:24:55] Angela Alea: Yeah, absolutely. Could not agree more. Spoken like two true software [00:25:00] professionals, right? Ease of use. Ease of use. Gotta be easy to adopt. Yeah. We're gonna keep saying it. We're gonna just keep, keep preaching it.

[00:25:08] Jon Kazarian: I don't think anyone

[00:25:08] Angela Alea: minds hearing that. No, you're right. It's, it's what they want. Gotta give them what they want. So, I'm with ya. Yeah, but you know,

[00:25:15] Jon Kazarian: I will say, you can't compromise on flexibility. Every event should be unique, and I think that's one thing that we learned. In 2020 and thereafter, before that there was just so much consistency from one event to the next one brand to the next.

[00:25:31] And now brands are really focused on the experiential element of differentiating their event. And the technology needs to be, it's the first impression that people have with your event. Yeah, it needs to do that as well. So you need to have that power and customization, but that doesn't mean it has to be hard.

[00:25:48] Angela Alea: that's right. Well, I think that's the trick in building software, right? It's got to be, cause you're right. Every, every event's different. Everything's custom, right? Which is what they're they want to be remembered for being different and creating something unique. And I think it's [00:26:00] the challenge in building software.

[00:26:02] And the good ones like Excel event do this because you can build something flexible enough, but also something easy. And I think that's a really hard balance to kind of find. So congrats to you all for finding that, because I think that's really important.

[00:26:18] Jon Kazarian: Yeah, I appreciate that. What makes it hard is that you have to say no.

[00:26:23] Right. When you've got a 50, a hundred K deal on the line and yeah, if we add this feature, we'd win that deal and we can get it done in time and that's not going to be an issue, but sometimes you just have to say no, because it's going to impact the rest of your roadmap. It's going to impact the user experience.

[00:26:41] It's going to add complexity and it's not reusable because it's so niche that it doesn't make sense. And once you learn where and when, and this, I mean, we've been at it for nine years and we're learning every day, you learn how to prioritize. I think it puts you in a position where you can build for the long term.

[00:26:58] Angela Alea: And I think companies appreciate that. I [00:27:00] mean, at Lassa, we do the same thing because just because they want a button to look like this or do this, or they want the workflow. Yeah. Our best customers are the ones when we're able to say, we're going to keep you from making a mistake. We're not going to do that.

[00:27:12] Here's why. And here's why you actually don't want us to do that. And I think our customers. Are will position themselves better when they also push back on their clients in the same. I know you think you want your event to do this, but let me challenge you to think differently right now. You're adding.

[00:27:30] before you've even produced the event, right? You're get, you're challenging the customer to think differently, which I think is good for the company. It's good for the customer. So I think knowing how to do that is really important versus just saying yes to everything.

[00:27:41] Jon Kazarian: Yeah. I mean, and, and that entire concept, like it's, it's in software, it's opinionated software development in sales.

[00:27:48] It's the challenger sale. Like that concept is so true. The reality is you end up with a customer. Who's more aligned with you. And that's how you make sure that your [00:28:00] expectations with the customer are aligned the same way that that customer needs to make sure that their expectations with the CC with our

[00:28:05] Angela Alea: line.

[00:28:06] Yeah. Preach into the choir. Love that book. Challenger sale. Yep. Well, I think that's something we all, we all could Do better. And I think our customers deserve that from us. Right. It's for us to keep them from making mistakes. That's our

[00:28:19] Jon Kazarian: goal. They're burned because of what happened in 2020 and 21, where they were getting a lot of promises by companies that raised a lot of money.

[00:28:26] They were growing really fast and they were obligated to win as much possible revenue to appease the.

[00:28:36] And, and then it would just burn bridges because they wouldn't be able to deliver. They wouldn't be able to execute. And there's a handful of companies that were around well before COVID companies that have taken a more sustainable approach to growth that are building from the long haul. And it's led not just to a user experience that's more scalable, but also to an underlying data model.

[00:28:55] The things that you can't see that make sure that that business [00:29:00] is going to be here to stay because, At the end of the day, it all does boil down to the, to the data model. And that's what allows you to expand the product.

[00:29:07] Angela Alea: Agreed. Agreed. Well, Jon, I always like to ask my guests at the end, one final question.

[00:29:13] And that is, what do you hope for our industry?

[00:29:19] Jon Kazarian: I love events. That's why I've decided to bet my career on it. But one thing that scares me about this industry right now, and it's something that you and I talked about in San Mateo was. There aren't that many young people entering the space today. And I think you're the one who said this, but a big part of the reason is that there's not very much clarity around what the career path looks like.

[00:29:44] Yeah. So if there's one thing that I can hope for, for our industry, it's that there becomes more resources and more visibility around what that career path looks like. Because with the way that marketing is changing today, events are becoming. I'd argue already are the [00:30:00] most important channel for businesses to grow and retain their

[00:30:03] Angela Alea: customers.

[00:30:03] A hundred percent agree. Yeah. And that was not the case five years ago.

[00:30:07] Jon Kazarian: No, no, it certainly was not at all. I,

[00:30:09] Angela Alea: I feel like there's been a tremendous shift in that. And so if that is where the budget dollars are gonna go and the focus and time and energy is gonna go, and their go to market is to focus on events and field marketing and those sorts of things, then it's important.

[00:30:24] We've got an industry ready to, to capture that. Yeah. You

[00:30:27] Jon Kazarian: now, one thing I think is gonna be. Good. Is that when there are more young people that are entering this industry, I do think they're going to be more data centric. I think there's going to be more

[00:30:39] Angela Alea: of this has to be more data centric. Like it has to be, those are table stakes right now.

[00:30:43] And we'll forever be, there is no more doing anything without focused on the data and letting the data lead your

[00:30:49] Jon Kazarian: decisions. But, but for some people that have been focused on the experience side for multiple decades in their career, and they know that perfectly, that switch to [00:31:00] looking at more of a data lens is a big change.

[00:31:03] And when you start from the beginning by approaching it from a, from a data lens, which we're seeing with demand gen people that are getting more involved with events, and I think we're going to see with younger people entering the space. I think it allows you to approach the events and the experiences in a different way.

[00:31:18] Yeah, 100 percent

[00:31:19] Angela Alea: agree. Well, I've got a, I've got a few takeaways from our conversation, and thank you for being here and helping us unpack it. But I think the couple takeaways that I have is, first of all, You have to innovate. It is no longer an option to just kind of do things the way they were before and innovate on a big scale, right?

[00:31:37] Like really creative innovation, not iteration innovation. And a lot of companies are still stuck kind of iterating, tweaking a thing this here and that there and getting their, their clients to do the same. And I think we've got to approach it completely differently because I think If you don't, you're just not gonna have a place in this industry.

[00:31:57] Which is exciting to me. Hopefully that's exciting to [00:32:00] our audience because that's, that's what makes it fun, right? No two events are ever the same. How do you push the envelope? How do you think creatively? And it doesn't always mean spend more and go bigger, right? It, it, it's getting creative. And so I think that's, that's the ask and what's ahead for our industry.

[00:32:17] And then the second thing is, Innovation doesn't have to be hard. I think keep it simple, make it easy. Sometimes the best things are the easiest and cheapest. But again, it takes that creativity to do that. And so I appreciate you being here to kind of help us unpack that. Really enjoyed the conversation.

[00:32:36] As did I. Well, thanks again, Jon, for being with us, for our audience. If they want to get in touch with you or follow some of your content, I know I do, you've got great content. How can they find you?

[00:32:48] Jon Kazarian: Yeah, definitely. You can find me on LinkedIn. It's Jonathan Kazarian, and you can also check out our website,

[00:32:57] Angela Alea: Awesome. And congrats on a great year with the Inc 5, 000. That's [00:33:00] awesome. You guys are doing great things and appreciate you being here.

[00:33:02] Jon Kazarian: We're really excited. Thanks again for having me on.

[00:33:04] Angela Alea: Awesome. Well, thanks everybody for joining. If you like what you hear, be sure to hit subscribe.

[00:33:09] We also have a monthly newsletter that you can subscribe to at our website at lasso. io under resources. And if you have any questions, comments, or feedback, reach out to us at podcast at lasso. io. Thanks everybody.

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