How was Gridaly created?
Michał Ratajczak: Gridaly was born out of the need to meet people during the pandemic, which to a large extent prevented us from doing so. Of course, we all used Zooma, Google Meet and other popular tools, but they were not able to replace face-to-face meetings, let alone organize events for hundreds or thousands of people. Together with my partner, Bartosz Szuryga, we decided to join forces and create an unlimited virtual event space that organizers can freely edit and personalize for their needs, and already in June 2020 we had the first online event on the Gridaly platform. We wanted the platform to be as useful as possible, so in 2020 alone I had over 200 meetings with clients whose feedback influenced the way the platform looks today.
During one year your team has increased five times, is it a sign that Poles have become convinced about online events and they will stay with us forever?
Yes, and I am absolutely convinced of it. These two years of lockdowns, restrictions and uncertainty associated with Covid in a way forced many companies and institutions to move online with the organization of events. Contrary to appearances, it’s quite a lot of time to get to know the market and the benefits of this form of events – we’re talking not only about lower costs of organization than in the case of stationary events and a much greater range, but also a better understanding of the participants, thanks to analytical tools – such as the engagement index we’re developing. We also need to remember that beyond online, our platform works well as a solution for hybrid and stationary events.
Audience attention is hard to come by at online events. How does Gridaly keep viewers engaged during events?
It is known that most depends on the theme of the event and how the organizer presents the content. But we, as Gridaly, offer interesting functionalities that keep the engagement of participants high. We have speednetworking, which connects two random people for a few-minute conversation, gamification, i.e. a system of points and badges that rewards participants for their activity on the platform, or even a socialwall, where you can post different content and have interesting discussions.
Do you still have to convince business owners to your solution or has our society already managed to get used to this kind of entertainment?
It depends. On the one hand, we are already at the stage that our clients know what online events are, because after all we have been in it for almost two years. On the other hand, however, we often find ourselves surprising our clients with the range of technological solutions that Gridaly offers. This is one of the reasons why we decided to launch an educational project called GridalyLAB, in which we will discuss issues related to the organization of online events.
What do the people you have hired over the last year do?
First of all, they help us develop our platform – both in terms of functionality and what is visible on Gridaly for participants, as well as analytical tools that will allow us to study the level of engagement during events.
You are working on an educational project called GridalyLAB. What does it consist in?
GridalyLAB is a database of expert knowledge about online and hybrid events, created for all people who participate in them: participants, exhibitors, speakers, organizers and sponsors. We’ve noticed that there isn’t much content like this out there, and there’s a lot of demand for it. In terms of format, it will range from articles, to analysis and reports, trend maps, success stories, e-books, podcasts and vlogs, to in-house products and consultations.
What are the downsides and what are the upsides of an online event in your opinion?
Online events certainly don’t require as much financial and human resources as their desktop counterparts. It is easier to organize such events because they usually do not have space limitations. It’s also easier to take part in them, as participants can connect from their home couch or desk. Admittedly, some organizers may be afraid of online events because they don’t know them well yet. And we sometimes hear that virtual events lack the feeling that there are other participants next to us, or that it’s difficult to keep their engagement high. Here we always try to convince such organizers that virtual events offer a lot of opportunities that would not be available offline, and that allow them to increase this engagement, reach a larger audience and get to know their participants even better.
Is it possible to provide attendees of online events with a similar experience to stationary events, or should we not compare it?
Online and stationary events are two completely different types of events and in our opinion it is difficult to compare them. Our task, as creators of an event platform, is to maximize the potential that lies in virtual events and provide participants with a unique experience that combines the best of online and offline.
How are you funding the venture?
We funded Gridaly with equity until the end of 2021, and this year we received funding from the Invento Capital fund, which we are using for research and development.
How do you plan to develop Gridaly further? What is your dream?
We are constantly developing the platform for even better networking and engagement of participants during events. We are also working on a full automation of Gridaly, so that organizers can create and manage events on the platform themselves in a short time (literally in 5 minutes!). On the other hand, as a company we are aiming to appear with our services on foreign markets and significantly increase the awareness of our brand.