Common advice to technology companies is to get out of the building and talk to the people using your product.
Attending such events as an employee of the company that designed the event app, you may witness 100,000 people using your design. “There’s a great reward to seeing your technology being used first-hand,” said Eventbase cofounder Ben West. “A big part of being a creative technologist is seeing your work being appreciated.”
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Eventbase is an event app platform that has powered the apps used for SXSW, the Calgary Stampede, and the Olympics. The company includes among its employee perks its Ticket to Ride’ program, which gives every employee in the company the opportunity, once a year, to choose and attend an event for which Eventbase has developed the app.
Employees attend their chosen events as an Eventbase ambassadors, and the company takes care of the travel, accommodation, and passes. If you’re into music, there’s the Voodoo Music Festival in New Orleans or Austin City Limits, among others, to choose from. If you fancy film, you can get a pass to Sundance or the Tribeca Film Festival. If it’s tech you want more of, then you can go for SXSW or OSCON. The events are not limited to North America. Also available are passes to the Isle of Wight Music Festival in England and Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in the south of France.
Part of the motivation underlying the program is to give every employee the opportunity to experience their product in the wild. Apart from the surge of motivation and morale they can get from watching their technology be used, attending the event gives the ambassadors experience as a user of the app and first-hand knowledge of how other event goers feel about the product, which inevitably leads to ideas for improvement.
West said, “We feel very strongly that everybody at our company should be able to experience sizeable complicated events from a first-hand perspective to see some of the challenges that you encounter as an attendee at a complex event where you have to make a lot of decisions really quickly on how you’re going to spend your time, and do so in a place that is likely unfamiliar because you’re in a city that you haven’t been to before.”
Of the ambassadors who attend, West said, “Once they come back, they really feel much more invested in our technology because when they’re on the ground there, they see people using our apps and often we’ll have tens or hundreds of thousands of people at these events.”
He continued, “So when you come back, you feel responsible, you feel proud, and it gives you insight into the perspective of the people using your technology as opposed to being distant from it.”
Ticket to Ride originated after Eventbase started to grow and create apps for more complicated events, with the co-founders, sales, and marketing staff attending and returning from each event with fresh ideas for improvement, for overcoming specific technical challenges using their technology, or for new features that could bring a higher level of enjoyment to the event organizer and attendees. It made sense to open the opportunity to the entire staff, including the technologists working on product, as they get to gain new, valuable insights, and look forward to a life-affirming event.
With the demand that exists for highly skilled technology and design workers, Ticket to Ride also provides a differentiator for Eventbase when it comes to acquiring talent.
West said, “We want to be able to attract the best and brightest, and a paycheck is only a part of that equation. I think people want experiences, and after they are making a certain amount of money, it’s the experiences in life that are really memorable. We’re in a unique position as a company that provides technology for events to be able to provide these great experiences to our staff, and have it be part of the learning experience, and part of the culture.”
West continued, “We’ve always wanted to create a company where everybody is afforded really great opportunities and really feels rewarded and really enjoys coming to work. So I think it’s important to us to convey that to the market that it’s cool technology, it’s a workplace where you’re going to get to do great things, and that the team there, from the people who have been there for years to the newest faces coming through the door, are going to be a big part of the family, and we want to make sure that they feel respected and rewarded.”
“Eventbase is a company where you can build something, and find yourself in a crowd of ten thousand people watching one of your favorite bands, and you’re having a great time personally, and looking around seeing all of these thousands of people using technology that you built or designed the week previous is really what it’s all about,” West said. “It’s those kinds of experiences that separate a job from a career.”
You can check Eventbase’s current job listings on the Techvibes job board.