By now we are all too familiar with virtual events.
For most of them, you receive a link to log in, click on it, enter a few details, and get access to an online platform. Once “inside”, there’s usually a live stream of speakers, maybe a question and answer segment (to facilitate some level of two-way communication), and then you log off.
There’s no denying that virtual events just don’t have the same magic as in-person ones.
But how do you replicate the energy of an in-person event online? How do you maximise engagement and interest when many attendees are sitting alone in an office or their homes?
Those were questions iTeneri founder, George Henry, and his team, realised needed to be answered in order to positively impact the face of event management in their home country of Jamaica.
iTeneri, simply put, makes events social. Think of a mini social network surrounding an online event.
Using the iTeneri platform, participants can not only watch the event live, but they also have the opportunity to interact with others at the event, much like you’re able to on your favorite social media platforms.
Henry explained, “We took all the best parts of Instagram, took all the best parts of TikTok and then converted that into an event management platform. So you can go on iTeneri and look at an event, you're able to share the event, create your own posts, you're able to watch the posts of other attendees and like and comment.”
But why is it important to have this level of engagement and inclusion for virtual events?
Henry says, “I think it's somewhere around 87% of people, when they're doing virtual events, don't feel as if they're part of the event. And that is because there is no area or platform for their voices to be heard. So making a platform social for us is ensuring that every single attendee feels included. This makes the event a success for everyone involved - not just the physical aspect, but persons in the virtual spaces as well.”
Hailing from Trelawny, Henry discovered his love for computers in college. He transitioned from pursuing a degree in education to one in computer science.
When he left school though, and it was time to pursue a career, his “country boy” roots inclined him towards entrepreneurship.
“Because of how I grew up in the farming community, that level of entrepreneurship was something that was embedded in the core of who I am. So coming out of college, I’ve literally never had a job that wasn’t some form of a start-up.”
Henry developed into what you might consider a serial entrepreneur - his first company, started with a group of friends, was a loan management system. A number of years later, he would forge out on his own and create his own company - Appfinity Technologies Ltd, the parent company under which iTeneri is a subsidiary.
Before iTeneri came into being, his company had developed an initial event management tool, primarily for managing tasks like event ticketing and attendee registration.
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck and threatened the event industry, Henry and his team got to work building virtual event management into their platform, and thus iTeneri was born.
Since then, the company has hosted over 200 events of varying sizes. Most recently, iTeneri was contracted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade in Jamaica to host the Jamaica Diaspora Conference, a multi-day event which took place in tandem with the country’s 60th Anniversary celebration of Independence.
Henry hailed the event as a massive success.
Other clients under iTeneri’s belt include JMMB, the Jamaica Stock Exchange, the National Commercial Bank, and the Betting and Gaming Lotteries Commission.
The next stage of evolution for the platform is hybrid. Even as the world emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic and we return to in-person events, virtual isn’t disappearing.
The aim is to make iTeneri a one-stop-shop for organisations that need to plan and execute a physical event, while also maintaining the social component for virtual attendees.
In fact, apart from its focus on social engagement, Henry considers iTeneri’s hybrid functionality one of iTeneri’s main advantages over its competitors.
“We would talk about, for example, organisers of an expo being able to generate booth and floor plans, or ticketing. And we're also building a lot around making communication extremely easy for everybody that's involved. I think those are some key differentiations that set us apart from other platforms.”
According to Henry, “Looking at the future, you can reach a lot more people from a hybrid perspective. So we are making a lot of changes to the platform and we are launching version 2.0 very soon - that's a fully hybrid platform. We have transitioned already to executing hybrid events but on the platform, there are still some functionalities that need to be released.”
Apart from tweaking and improving its offering, the company is also actively engaging investors and is open to having conversations with any investor interested in coming on board with iTeneri.
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by Ceola Belix