For conference and event promoters, the question these days isn’t whether or not you’re using Twitter, it’s how. And increasingly, the how leads to revenue opportunities, global reach and most importantly, a better experience. So with social media impacting so much of the communications at conferences and events, who’s providing the tools? Meet Refynr, an Austin-based company that has somewhat serendipitously found its market.
In late 2010, founder and CTO, Aaron Longnion wanted to capitalize on the rush to filter the social media firehose and launched an early version of Refynr. After paltry revenues and only a few thousand users, Longinion packed it up for the Valley and went to work for Adobe. Despite the move, Refynr wasn’t dead yet.
Its second life came by way of a call from an event coordinator who wanted to build some custom feeds for a few upcoming conferences. And while that first customer didn’t pan out, the (don’t call it a pivot) shift was underway. Longnion’s next move was adding Kentucky-based entrepreneur Matt Langan to the team, which accelerated things enough to get the company’s first dashboard out the door and streaming tweets at a live conference, all in about a month.
Since that project in February of this year, Refynr’s dashboards have powered four conferences with more in the works. Getting in the door and building the right partnerships is a big part of Refynr’s focus these days. The pitch is utilitarian to most customers after the light bulb goes off.
“Planners win by providing a dashboard to their attendees and receiving a new coveted sponsorship opportunity to sell,” said Longnion. “The dashboard’s sponsors win by getting in front of attendees and event fans across the globe. Not to mention, attendees can easily share, network and get a real-time look at their event from a single interface,” he added.
One of the things customers like is the flexibility of the platform. Refynr’s dashboards aren’t just cookie-cutter frameworks, but do share some common features. All are web-based and optimized to run on any device. And if you’ve seen the tool, you’ll notice there’s a main feed and a filtered feed, showing relevant updates pulled from Twitter.
“We’re filtering much more than a hashtag,” added Longnion. “We can get as specific or as all-encompassing as an event planner desires, which can mean hand-picking Tweets or using a variety of keywords and phrases to filter the updates.”
Not surprisingly, Longnion says clients also like its slideshow capability, which streams real-time images uploaded from Twitter. Another nice touch is the ability for users to connect their own Twitter accounts, eliminating the need to run multiple native or web-based social publishing apps. So far that mix is working enough to catch the attention of others in the tech and venture community.
In April, Refynr started the 8-week Venture Forth startup accelerator program at Tech Ranch Austin. In another stroke of serendipity — on day one — the Refynrs met their eventual VP of Sales, Chris Savage, who just happened to be the former National Sales Manager for Bellagio in Las Vegas. Within a few weeks Chris joined the team.
With Savage’s HRM expertise, that’s where things get more interesting for the company. It’s easy to see how its tools could penetrate other parts of the event or hotel manager’s portfolio of services. Tie-ins with the concierge, local businesses, and slew of other providers in the travel and entertainment sector could rapidly expand their services. For now though, Refynr is on the pitch trail, honing its core capabilities.
It sure is.