Umeå-based start-up Coeo began developing a platform for digital meetings even before the pandemic.
As face-to-face meetings were quickly replaced by webinars, customers flooded in.
Today, the company is one of Sweden’s most skilled when it comes to so-called hybrid meetings. That is, meetings where participants can attend physically or digitally, simultaneously.
– From the start, we have been driven by increasing knowledge sharing between people in a sustainable way. We now have clients all over Sweden and during the pandemic we have arranged meetings with participants from 180 countries. This adds up to a lot of air travel all over the world that, thanks to our technology, did not have to be made,” says Anders Gunnarsson, founder and CEO.
But the industry’s transformation is not over, on the contrary. It has only just begun, Anders believes. He predicts a transformation: from event thinking to community building. And Coeo already has the solution.
– What we’re noticing is that organisers are keen for participants to continue meeting after and between events and conferences, and with technology, that’s possible. We think it will become common that instead of rigging physical meetings once or twice a year, we have a continuous exchange with each other digitally. That the norm will be to be seen all year round in a digital world supplemented by a physical layer, rather than the other way around as it has been in the past. The Coeo platform is already solving this,” says Anders Gunnarsson.
Congress organisers Umeå Congress, which specialises in major scientific conferences, have been working with the Coeo platform since its first release.
– We have a great collaboration. We have used the technology to the maximum with up to nine parallel sessions simultaneously in the platform. During the pandemic, we have rigged at least 40 events with participants from all corners of the globe and the customers are very satisfied, says Krister Andersson, CEO.
He believes that digital may have to take a back seat for a while now because we have missed the physical, but that digital is of course a big part of the future.
– Our customers are constantly learning how to use different combinations of solutions and functions to tailor the very best experience based on their own specific needs. One challenge, for example, has been how we use digital to make partners and collaborators who are used to showing their products in stands visible. We solve this by incorporating them into the conference programme instead. You just have to dare to think in new ways,” says Krister Andersson.
What about profitability? Is the industry prepared to pay for digital solutions?
– We have made at least as much money from digital as from physical during the pandemic. I would say it’s easier to package and charge for digital, actually. And because we ‘own’ the Coeo platform, we are fully associated with the events there, unlike if we were organising a conference in a third party venue. In this way, Coeo has also strengthened our own brand,” says Krister Andersson.
Coeo receives business support from Umeå-based incubator Uminova Innovation.