INNOVATORS VS COVID 19
Roman Mastalir: Every Crisis is an Opportunity to do Things Better
We talked to Roman Mastalir, CEO and founder of Eventee about the user-friendly engagement of audiences in virtual events and this is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Roman Mastalir: I’m doing well, thank you for asking! It is quite boring to stay at home the whole day, seven days a week, but I’m trying to stay positive. When I’m feeling blue, I remember how hard life was for my grandma when she was my age. She was taken away from her family, forced to build guns for the Nazis, and was almost killed by them at the end of WW2. She was such a strong woman. It feels silly to complain about being home watching Netflix with tasty food delivery when my grandma could afford meat only once a week. So I’m not complaining.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Eventee.
Roman Mastalir: I founded Touch Art, our first company in 2009 during University studies with my good friend Petr. Back then we built a few apps and games for iPhone and iPad. In 2012, when we were still students, Touch Art became a digital agency and kept this business for many years. We built our current product Eventee as a PR stunt to promote our core business in 2015. But the stunt was such a success that we decided to continue with its development. In 2018 Eventee was accelerated in New York and in 2019 we closed the agency and went all-in with Eventee.
How does Eventee innovate?
Roman Mastalir: We build a tool that increases engagement during events and conferences. Event organizers are still the customer, but we build the app for attendees to make their event experience as good as possible. It has to be easy to install and easy to use. Organizers often ask for niche features attendees won’t be using and make the experience not that pleasant. That is why we focus mainly on attendees and their experiences. Thanks to this approach our numbers say that up to 80% of attendees download and use the app during the event. Industry-standard is somewhere around 20%. The app is easy to use even for event managers. Anyone who can manage a calendar app can create an event in Eventee within minutes.
Recently we had to pivot toward virtual events support and I do believe that we nailed it. With the current plans, we provide users with mobile and web app and a free event homepage. In the near future, we will release custom domain name support. For 2021 we plan to release our own ticketing system and we are also working on our streaming service to provide a private streaming platform for virtual events. Once done, we will be the only solution on the market that offers the whole package from in-person to virtual and hybrid event experience for one price.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Roman Mastalir: Drastically. Back in March 2020, we were weeks from bankruptcy. We lost all our customers literally overnight when our government shut the whole country down. Thanks to the team effort we managed to not just survive, but increase our revenue. The truth is that we planned to grow faster, but in 2020 we managed to triple our revenue compared to 2019.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources and what are the lessons learned?
Roman Mastalir: I’m glad I didn’t have to. I asked my team to get 50% of my salary for a limited time in order to survive and, to my surprise, everyone agreed. I resigned myself and lived from savings for a while. It took around 1-2 months for things to turn back to “normal” again. Since then, we are on a growing path.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Roman Mastalir: Due to the increasing number of customers, we moved from a chat support tool to Helpscout that next to a chat tool, it also provides a knowledge base and mail support manager. Otherwise, we keep using Hubspot and Mailchimp to keep our customers informed about all the news and goodies we release.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Roman Mastalir: Partially, yes. Our government is not the best in helping companies to survive. But we were able to get partial help with salaries for 2-3 months.
Your final thoughts?
Roman Mastalir: I think that each crisis is also a good opportunity. Yes, it sucks but I see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m reading more books than ever before because there is nothing else to do. I’m also trying to improve and learn new things. And I’m saving a lot because there is nothing I can spend my money on. But I’m trying to support local businesses and cafes as much as I can. It may sound silly but I never ate so much delivery food as I do now.
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