Business news site, SuperbCrew, recently picked the brain of Eventerprise co-founder, Birgit Thümecke, on a range of topics such as digital transformation, the importance of innovation for business success, diversity and inclusion in the workplace, as well as how best to approach organizational change. Fresh from her win at the prestigious Stevie® Awards for Women in Business, presented at a gala evening in New York City, Birgit had plenty of insights to share based on her own experience of running multinational organizations and now putting a globally distributed SaaS company on the map.
Q: Birgit, could you provide our readers with a brief introduction to Eventerprise?
A: Eventerprise.com is a global event planning platform that helps people who want to host events find the best qualified event professionals, event services, event products, or venues for their particular event. Accurate search results, transparent reviews, and a fast, efficient quotation process help event organizers overcome the risks, time wastage, and complexities that are endemic to a fragmented industry without universal quality benchmarks.
Conversely, the Eventerprise platform levels the playing field for event professionals by providing them with a powerful digital presence (in the form of search-optimized business profiles) that helps them reach their targeted audience in a more effective and affordable manner, and allows them to build trust through transparent reviews and independent benchmarks.
In a nutshell, we want people to host better events by being able to choose the right service or product provider, as opposed to wading through thousands of unverified internet search results.
Q: What is Event Planning Software and why do we need it?
A: These days event planning software encompasses a wide range of business solutions for the successful organizing and management of events. It covers all stages of the event lifecycle, from attendee registration, ticketing, floor planning, and marketing to audience participation, budgeting, post-event analysis, and more. These software applications have been proven to increase event revenue and attendee satisfaction by making aspects like registration and ticketing less time-consuming and cumbersome.
The market for event technology is still booming as can be seen from Eventbrite’s successful IPO last year. In fact, the event management software market is expected to grow to $10.57 billion by 2023.
It is important though to note that most global event software platforms, such as Eventbase, Aventri, Cvent, and Eventbrite, focus on apps and tools for event professionals. In contrast, Eventerprise puts the consumer (those of us who want to host an event) at the center of its platform by holding event professionals accountable via transparent reviews. Users can search for, compare and connect with event professionals in three different ways depending on their needs:
• via various category and location filters offered by a super-accurate custom search engine,
• by using the handy event themes option which breaks down all the products and services required for a particular event,
• or by utilizing the time-saving automated request for proposal system.
Category and location agnostic, Eventerprise is the only dedicated event planning platform that offers reviewed-based comparisons between all types and categories of event professionals, products and services, which of course includes the vendors of aforementioned event planning tools and apps.
Q: Birgit, what is it like to be a woman in tech?
A: In general, it is still harder for women to achieve success in the business world, compared to their male colleagues. This holds even more true in the tech industry with its massive gender imbalance. According to McKinsey, women occupy 37% of entry-level tech jobs and their representation gets worse as you go up the career ladder, with only 15% reaching executive level.
Since it has been shown, that ability has nothing to do with this lack of representation, one must look to gender stereotypes and hiring practices as major causes of this imbalance. In the tech world it is still pretty common to recruit people who are culturally similar, i.e. other (pale) males. The irony is that it has been proven over and over again that diverse teams are more innovative and produce better results.
Early-stage tech companies like Eventerprise thrive on simplicity, equality, and transparency as operating principles. A business model as technically transformational as the digital platform forces you to constantly review all aspects of how you conduct business to ensure the best possible outcomes for your users, your team, and your stakeholders. This implies a constant state of change, which I believe is best approached by a diverse team that utilizes different viewpoints to inspire creative solutions and new product development.
The dearth of venture capital funding for female founded companies is another gender diversity issue that is very pertinent to startups and early-stage tech companies. Not only does this funding bias hold many women back from participating in the tech economy, but it also has negative implications for overall economic growth. Bottomline, we need more female VC decision makers.
With women still a rare species in many parts of the tech industry, I believe it is my and other experienced female leaders’ duty to open up opportunities for young women and future leaders by adding our voice to campaigns for change, as well as mentoring and coaching younger females and future leaders.
Q: You were recently announced as a winner at the prestigious 2018 Stevie Awards in New York; could you tell us more about the experience?
A: I really did not expect to win, but since one of my mantras is ‘who dares wins’ I decided to apply to the Stevie Awards in the category Female Entrepreneur of the Year (Business Services). An unexpected benefit of my application was that it forced me to reflect on my achievements to date. Since I’m always busy with multiple projects simultaneously it was good to have a moment to take stock of my journey thus far.
I have to admit that while I have heard of the Stevie’s I was not fully aware of how prestigious they are. A point that was brought home soon after my nomination when a former (female) colleague approached me while I was having lunch with my family and congratulated me. The penny dropped further when my LinkedIn profile visits skyrocketed and I started receiving lots of congratulatory messages from people I hardly know. The Stevie Awards definitely boosts your profile where it matters.
While I’m grateful for the accolade I’m actually more inspired by the process and being able to contextualize my achievements. It was humbling to be nominated from such a diverse pool of international businesswomen and then to be invited to the award ceremony in NYC to share the moment with all the other winners. I was fortunate to be accompanied to the award ceremony by two young women, my 19-year-old daughter, Lili, and another 19-year-old, Lara, an intern at Eventerprise who was a phenomenal help with my application process. It was great to see how much the evening inspired them and I’m glad I can be a role model for them.
The awards evening was conspicuous with the dominating presence of women, with few men in attendance. Common denominators that stood out for me were empowered women, success at work, and community. I felt a strong sense of solidarity and not a hint of jealousy or envy.
Many winners mentioned their mothers as their role model. So did I. It makes me immensely proud of my heritage and the confidence my late mother had instilled in me. It demonstrates the impact of our behavior as female leaders and how strong the signaling effect on others can be.
My most important takeaways from the Stevie Awards were to make time to reflect on my achievements and to continuously network. For those women who have trouble connecting with their peers, be assured there are more out there like you. You will get to know them when you’re ready to jump out of your comfort zone.
Q: How do you drive innovation and growth?
A: Innovation comes in different forms, but the most well-known is probably the evolution of an existing product or service in order to open up a new market or take over an existing one. However, innovation also plays an important role in corporate management areas such as organizational models, employee participation, leadership concepts, etc.
With any innovation there is inevitably change in the working environment which requires the rapid and smooth implementation of new strategies, structures, systems, and processes. It is therefore important to identify and support the necessary behavioral changes in affected employees. I’m prone to saying that innovation is always followed by change (management).
That is why I drive innovation and growth through change. In my opinion creativity flourishes best in a dynamic and diverse environment with a constant focus on finding new ways to better serve growth markets. That requires the ability to effectively manage rapid change every step of the way to market adoption.
Understanding and anticipating customer needs are prerequisites for growth. Gone are the days when companies could dictate what products or services are best for their customers. These days, without customer input your business is dead in the water. If you want extreme growth, you have to engage and relate outside your comfort zone.
So my recipe for growth boils down to (a) creating a diverse and dynamic environment that promotes innovation and (b) having the right leadership who can drive changes successfully.
Q: How does digital transformation affect all of us?
A: I think it is safe to say that digital transformation affects all of us in many different ways, from the way we interact with each other through social media to the way we conduct business via cloud-based software solutions. The challenge is of course not to get lost in all the rapid changes around us and to make full use of the opportunities that the adoption of technology affords us. As business leaders are we able to identify those opportunities and successfully implement them, or are we overwhelmed and adrift at sea?
It may be more productive to look at digital transformation through the lens of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where digital infrastructure forms the foundation for fast-growing new technologies such as AI, machine learning, and the Internet of Things. The World Economic Forum has expounded extensively on the multiplier effect that these new technologies will have on current digital disruption with huge changes foreseen for production, management, and government systems.
The one constant is that there will always be change, but now happening at a faster and faster rate. Our ability to manage change as well as the rate of change will spell the difference in success for ourselves and our businesses. I believe the Eventerprise platform is able to alleviate the pain of all that digital change for both consumers and event professionals.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
A: I would like to implement and fast-track high-impact areas of change that will be of lasting benefit to Eventerprise and its customers. Diversity, inclusion, digital transformation and the ongoing review of workflows and processes have been identified as priority items in this regard.
To get things done I like to surround myself with go-getters, people who inspire and challenge me. With the right people by my side, my mission is to spark new ideas, invent new options and engage in creative problem-solving.
On a more general note, my inquisitive and open-minded nature underpins a lifelong passion for learning and personal growth. Knowing that I’m adding value to the creation of something as ambitious as the Eventerprise platform gives my real purpose, keeps me woke, and pushes me out of my comfort zone on a daily basis.
Would you like to learn more about Eventerprise’s investment opportunities? Visit the investor section of our website.