This events tech startup landed a spot on Zoom’s app marketplace – BizBash | Region & Cash

Although live events have (thankfully) made their big return, many corporate teams may still be completely remote. The shift has undoubtedly left many planners wondering how they can feel connected despite the distance — and without too much effort, of course.

Enter: string for zoom events. Last week, the event tech startup focused on remote networking announced that it’s now available as an app through Zoom Events. With existing Zoom accounts, teams can now use Twine to easily add a variety of guided networking experiences to their virtual meetings or events. And the user does not have to leave Zoom Events or create an additional login. The app is free for teams of up to 25 users.Lawrence CoburnPhoto: Courtesy of Twine

“How the app works: It’s basically a combination of matchmaking and spatial verification that allows you, as an events professional or host of the Zoom, to send everyone on your Zoom into breakout rooms with the push of a button, whether they’re timed and have some context or icebreaker questions, that drive networking,” said Lawrence Coburn, CEO and co-founder of Twine.

Twine is available through Zoom’s new App Marketplace – just like the App Store on your iPhone or Android. One of the first companies to get special access to Zoom’s app marketplace was Glimpse, which was acquired by Twine earlier this year. The marketplace is now open to all app developers, but Coburn says the acquisition gave Twine “a head start of about six to nine months.”

“The game changer is that this is the only way to run networks on Zoom right now,” says Coburn.

BizBash sat down with Coburn for an in-depth chat. Keep scrolling to read more about today’s event tech landscape, Twine’s coolest features for Zoom Events, advice for event professionals on navigating event tech, and more.

This news, along with the company’s announcement of new funding, contradicts what many events professionals may be seeing in the recent headlines about event tech cuts and layoffs right now. What do you make of it?
I think if you zoom out (no pun intended), the virtual events and virtual event tech market is a lot bigger than it was three years ago; it went through probably 10 years of acceleration. I think the whole industry has gotten a little bit past its skis and that’s what happens with technology. Investors race as they pay out tens, hundreds, millions of dollars. These companies are hiring and expecting this crazy growth to continue, and it isn’t. It’s sad when people lose their jobs and it’s heartbreaking for everyone involved.

With existing Zoom accounts, teams can now use Twine to easily add a variety of guided networking experiences to their virtual meetings or events.  And the user does not have to leave Zoom Events or create an additional login.With existing Zoom accounts, teams can now use Twine to easily add a variety of guided networking experiences to their virtual meetings or events. And the user does not have to leave Zoom Events or create an additional login.Photo: Courtesy of Twine

But I think there is reason for optimism in the long run. I think planners have been given a crash course in using technology to bring people together online. I think it opens up incredible opportunities for accessibility to increase the overall industry pie. I think events professionals have learned a lot of new skills, and I think we’re just taking a brief moment back to face-to-face where everyone just thirsts for those experiences. But most planners I know haven’t forgotten these skills, and they still plan to have virtual content as a big part of their strategy.

How has the planner’s feedback been since you launched the Twine app on Zoom?
Twine has had a web version of this out for about five or six quarters, and it’s been doing well. But one of the most difficult things in our business has always been delivery. Planners don’t want to send their attendees to enroll in a second system. They want integration and something always goes wrong with integration. There are many different browsers. There are many different computer operating systems. There are always people who just can’t make it work. And it’s frustrating for everyone.

The thing about the Twine for Zoom app is that if you can get into Zoom, you can use the app. All this surrender [difficulty] goes away This is the biggest feedback we hear from planners. We’re on Zoom a lot anyway, and if we can just keep them there – people know how to use Zoom – then it just takes a huge headache out of the planner.

What interesting features should planners know about in the Twine for Zoom Events app?
The simplest mode [includes] a purple button labeled “Shuffle”. So when I’m the host of a Zoom and I tap this button, everyone on my Zoom goes into three-minute speed-dating conversations [in breakout rooms]. I see a countdown clock, some context, some icebreaker questions. The unique thing about this mode is that you don’t have to ask anyone to do anything. It’s the lowest bar to use yarn for zoom – just tap a button.

Planners can use the map mode in Twine for Zoom Events to set up virtual tables.Planners can use the map mode in Twine for Zoom Events to set up virtual tables.Photo: Courtesy of Twine

Map mode is a way of setting up virtual tables that live in your sidebar. [As the host or planner], I can specify how many people I want at these tables and how many seats. As a participant, you can bet on any of these tables and participate. And you can select tables based on who you see at the table. You can think of breakout rooms where you have topics where presenters sit at each table and you just let your participants go self-directed and choose the table they want to sit at. It’s easy. It’s like a spatial UI [user interface] on Zoom breakout rooms.

We also have matchmaking modes. One is this random speed dating shuffle. The second is AB matching. If you have two groups, you can fit together across the aisle—like buyer and seller, mentor and mentee, east coast and west coast. Imagine a room with 100 people and 50 different currents. You can see who is meeting with whom. you can chat We have icebreaker questions that you can activate as well. We have another more sophisticated mode that is tag based and you can have multiple tags describing yourself and the perfect person you want to meet.

Once you find a format you like, you can save it as a template and then get started with just a tap. Event planners don’t like to work on the fly – they want to be fully operational before the event begins. And we can make that possible.

What advice would you give to planners who are still navigating events tech and trying to find the best platform to fit their needs?
I’m going to compete a little with my colleagues and say that now is the time to negotiate better deals. Event tech companies are really hungry and need to find customers, and there’s a lot of competition. So I bet this is the right time to snap up some month-long or multi-year deals at great prices and find a platform you like.

The other thing is that there is still a lot of innovation. But if you’re hosting events on Zoom, this could be a very affordable option. You can buy a big platform for 40, 50, 60,000 a year, but maybe with Zoom plus yarn you can get everything you need for a fraction of that. I would also say check out Zoom Events. There’s not a lot of fuss about this product yet, but it’s powerful. One of the key people who built it was my co-founder of DoubleDutch, my previous company. He knows what he’s doing and he’s built a powerful scheduling tool.

To test the app in your next Zoom meeting, download Twine for Zoom Events here.

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