When you launch a software company just as the tech industry is crashing…and your target market is about to have an existential crisis…and you’re here 20 years later to talk about your success…you’ve got a story worth sharing.
G2Planet today provides enterprise event management software platforms for three types of needs:
- very large single-event management (such as multi-day customer conferences with thousands of attendees);
- multi-event management (for enterprises that participate in dozens to hundreds of corporate and industry events each year); and
- automotive event management (for automakers managing a busy schedule of car shows, ride-and-drives, and experiential events).
But the early days were a white-knuckle ride for founder Mark Granovsky and his team. May of 2000 was among the most challenging times ever to launch an event management software company.
The NASDAQ bubble was bursting. The index hit its then-all-time high of 5,047 on March 9, 2000; its value had already fallen by half when G2Planet began operations. Furthermore, the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center towers just a year and a half later led to severe cutbacks in corporate travel and events, which had already slowed due to the recession.
On top of all that, G2Planet’s first products were mobile event apps—developed for devices like the Palm Pilot (smartphones wouldn’t exist for several years yet). Cell phones had only been practical for about a decade, and WiFi was invented less than 10 years earlier. So signal coverage was slow, and spotty at best.
And yet today, the company’s software helps manage some of the largest B2B events and busiest experiential marketing calendars for leading tech companies, consumer brands, and automakers. It integrates with corporate CRM, sales operations, and marketing automation systems to not only manage events efficiently but also optimize the use of valuable attendee data collected through event participation.
Here’s the remarkable story of Mark Granovsky and G2Planet.
G2Planet is an enterprise software company that helps large corporations manage and optimize the performance of their event marketing discipline.
The company’s platforms help enterprises manage the operational and production activities of hosting their own corporate events as well as participating in industry events such as trade shows and conferences.
G2Planet software helps corporations put on better events—to create a better experience for attendees, a better value for sponsors, easier engagement for event speakers, and more efficient management for employees—at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels.
It helps improve baseline logistical production, enabling companies to plan and produce better events. But it also helps companies to take their brand activations up a notch, to create events that have a greater impact on brand awareness and image.
At the next level up, G2Planet helps clients do a better job of running their business of events. These departments think about their event marketing activities at a more senior level in the organization, they think about it as the business of putting on events. G2Planet software helps them run their event operations more efficiently, not just for individual events, but across all their experiential event activations.
At the highest level, the company enables its clients to manage events strategically to help their business grow. It empowers them to not only improve the attendee experience and operational productivity, but to get more value out of events holistically across the enterprise. While events are predominantly a marketing and sales activity, they can also play a key role for product marketing, product research, product management, customer service, partner marketing, business development, even human resources.
G2Planet is helping its clients use their events to deliver wide-ranging strategic value. While not every large company thinks about events that way today, some of the most innovative, forward-thinking firms in tech, automotive, financial services, and other industries are taking that strategic view, and more are getting there.
About the Company
Year founded: 2000
Funding rounds: Friends & family seed money to start out; bootstrapped with organic growth since then; employee-owned today
Current size: long-term relationships with a number of large enterprise customers, who tell us we’re “really punching above our weight class”
G2Planet is featured in:
Webbiquity: What inspired you to work on a solution to this particular problem?
Mark Granovsky: Personal experience. Prior to founding G2Planet, I had worked in sales and marketing roles in the enterprise software space. So I understood both the value of events as well the challenges of managing them, and I thought, this is an area with great opportunity to add value and improve operations.
Early on, I was involved in launching a new corporate conference at an enterprise software company. I got the opportunity to work with our executive team along with the customers who were on the board of the user group, and understand their perspectives and goals. I felt the challenges at both the production and strategic levels of putting on the event.
Also, as a business development guy, I would attend conferences and navigate the sea of information to find the right people. I recognized this could be done better and more efficiently.
At the time, back in 2000, there was software to help produce events, but it was pretty rudimentary. In addition, the model that software companies were using to try to service this industry just didn’t fit well, from my perspective. So, we came up with a different model to address the problems and challenges.
Webbiquity: What were the most effective channels or methods for you to get the word out to prospective customers when you first launched your product?
Mark Granovsky: When we first went to market, our promotion was pretty much referrals, 100%.
We focused on the solutions we were delivering, and the quality of those solutions; and we’d let those experiences stand for themselves. We realized that people talk, and people in the events industry particularly are very close. They work with partner companies, agencies and vendors. They change roles. They may move on to work for different companies.
We’ve always been focused on delivering the best solution, exactly what the client is asking for. From there, people talk. You’re only as good as your last event in this business, but by the same token, if you do a great job on events, people hear about it.
And they heard G2Planet was a software company that was innovative, flexible, and responsive; that led with customer service, integration to in-place applications, flexible implementation, and custom configuration.
Today we are doing more with content, digital, and influencer marketing. We’re building industry partnerships. But still, the cornerstone of our marketing remains word of mouth and referrals.
Webbiquity: Finish this sentence: “Knowing what I know now, if I were starting over today, what I would do differently is…”
Mark Granovsky: What would I do differently, if I got to rewind the clock…that’s a good question.
What I would do differently now is hire a VP of professional services sooner. The individual we have in that role now a complete rock star, she knows implementation. She’s been doing this a long time. And when she came into the business, she took our implementation management to the next level.
We already had great software, but coupling that with great project management, and best practices around implementing highly configurable software, that really took things up a level.
So, I would have brought in that professional services executive a little sooner, because at the end of the day, it’s all about the people on your team.
Webbiquity: What’s the most important advice you could offer to an entrepreneur starting out today?
Mark Granovsky: I would tell them, again, it’s all about the people.
Once you’ve spent time looking at the market, the problem, and the opportunity, and you’ve applied some critical intellectual problem solving to it, you have to find the right people. It’s your team that really brings your vision to life. The most important asset of a company is its people.
The best people are not necessarily the most expensive, so don’t get yourself trapped in that perspective. The best people are those who are passionate, loyal, who bring an intellectual curiosity to the problem you are solving, are service-minded, and want to make an impact.
It’s about the collective goal as opposed to the personal accomplishment, so they take pride out of the goals of the collective. If you do that right, if you get the right people in the right combinations based upon discipline and skill set, everything else just falls into place.