The Pixilated Podcast

Will Curran | Endless Events | Pixilated Podcast Season 2

August 03, 2022 Patrick Rife | Will Curran Season 2 Episode 13
The Pixilated Podcast
Will Curran | Endless Events | Pixilated Podcast Season 2
Show Notes Transcript

About Will Curran:

As the founder of Endless Events, Will Curran has been named one of the most influential people in the meeting & events industry, one of the 40 under 40 event industry leaders, 35 entrepreneurs under the age of 35, and the highest customer satisfaction of any event company in the industry. Will has been producing in-person, virtual and hybrid events since high school when he started his first company and has now worked in the management of large event clients such as Emerald City Comicon, Anheuser-Busch, Warner Brothers, Morton Salt & Uber. His team’s mission is to simplify the event planning process by creating the equation for an event’s perfect solution. From event management to business development to the latest technologies, Will Curran has a diverse background in growing events and companies to the next level.

About Endless Events:

How do you create the equation for a perfect event? You call the Einsteins of the industry! Whether virtual, hybrid, or in-person, the Endless Events team knows just what it takes to create a flawlessly executed experience. We are a comprehensive event management company who can help you plan, design, execute, analyze, and exceed your own expectations for your next event.

Social Media

Website: https://helloendless.com/


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Patrick Rife:

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to another episode of the pixelated podcast, I am your host, Patrick rife, super excited to have Wilkerson from endless events on the podcast today. For any of our listeners out there know, this season, we have been really focused on interviewing other event professionals and really trying to get people in very specific niches and veins of the events industry and getting a chance to really talk about them. So super excited to have will on because we haven't really had somebody from like, a heavy production side yet, so we're gonna get into that. But before we go there, and without further ado, we'll welcome to the pixelated podcast.

Will Curran:

Thanks so much for having Patrick. You know, it's so awesome to be here. And yeah, I'm so excited to get to chill out and answer some questions and get deep dive into parents, anything you guys want to know about me. I like to be an open book.

Patrick Rife:

All things All right, great. Well, so I've got a billion questions. But before we hit any of those, why don't you give everybody out there that's listening that isn't, you know, familiar with endless events or just is familiar, but but not as well. Like, give us a snapshot of who you are and what you do?

Will Curran:

For sure. Yeah, if you haven't heard endless events before me before, stop what you're doing. And go to Hello, endless.com. That's our domain, go check out we have so much content on our website, books, blogs, webinars, a lot of people know us for our content that we've created. But ironically, that's not exactly that's not like we're not a media house. We're not a you know, a content produced company. We're an event management company, you know, and we started off as, you know, event production transition to event management over the last couple of years. And yeah, like, oh, my gosh, long story, everything started off nerdy in high school, love technology, love building websites started DJing my backyard or my my bedroom, I should say, and then start doing backyard parties at that point. All throughout high school DJing started at basically a DJ company, from the DJ company, you know, went to college and was like, you know, DJ is fun, but I want to do more, you know, as aspiring for more so then started hearing about production and start incorporating lights and video into my DJ events. And then I was like, You know what, most people really liked this production stuff. It was where 90% of our revenue was, and it was honestly, like, we were finding ways to communicate the crazy technology and production stuff in an easy to understand way. So we base were like, you know, we're really good at production stuff, aren't we to start a production company. So basically, we started a production company, very traditional, started then pivoting more towards corporate events, and really found our niche in the corporate events, you know, demystifying AV and production and corporate events. And then, you know, over the years, because we started writing so much content about not only just production and technology, but about, you know, how do you actually run an efficient at how do you actually create audience engagement? How do you do all this, like, bigger, larger event strategy stuff, people will start coming to us for to do ads, every single part of their event. So over the past couple of years, we've basically been slowly, you know, doing a transition to be an event management company to where we are today, doing event management for really big corporate events.

Patrick Rife:

Awesome, awesome. Great. That's

Will Curran:

the life story. Like, it's, that's half my life story about life because I started when I was 17. Now I'm 32. So pretty much half my life there. Boom, God.

Patrick Rife:

Yeah, sweet, sweet. Well, great setup. So, you know, right off the jump, some like quickfire questions. So right now you're based in

Will Curran:

Phoenix, Arizona, is that right? Yep. Yep, well, Hotter Than Hell, Phoenix, Arizona. Is that where you've been all along? Yeah, yeah, that's where I started the company. About seven years ago, we went remote. So then that's when I started telling people I lived out of a suitcase. And you know, I came home and my cats just happened to live in Phoenix. But since the pandemic I've really taken I've stopped traveling as much I've really relied on my team to do all the traveling to the events and everything. And now I pretty much only traveled for fun or for speaking in a conference.

Patrick Rife:

Fair enough. Fair enough. And then, so how many years? So you're 15 years old? Does that also include the time of the DJing? Does that that that's in

Will Curran:

there? Yeah. Like so the when I started kind of in the bedroom DJing stuff, I was about 14 or so. So for about three years, I was just in the bedroom doing my own thing about 16 is when I started like my friends started asking me to DJ backyard 2007, which is when I was 17. That was when I basically was like I'm DJing enough of these like middle school dances and people were asking me that I don't want people just calling up and asking for Wilker in the DJ. I was like, I want to get more money to buy cooler lights and stuff. So I started saying like, let's come up with a you know, a brand. You know, you need a logo and a website to have a business. So I basically built a website and designed a logo and chose most generic name ever possible called Arizona pro DJs, which is the worst branding decision. I've probably made my life.

Patrick Rife:

Yeah. Awesome. And then so and then how long were you DJing before the AHA and

Will Curran:

on the production stuff. Yeah. So let's see. So like, I was 17. I graduated like obviously high school when I was like 18 or so. I was halfway through my freshman year of college. When I wrote to myself like by the time I graduate, I want to do like a large scale because we had the Super Bowl going on my freshman year in Arizona. So I was like, I want to do like a party like they do at the Super Bowl. And so I sat. So I wrote on my whiteboard and my freshman year of college, like, I think halfway through, like around Superbowl time, so I've been like January. So we're like, I want to do one of those. By the time I graduate college, about six months later, was when a high school approached me and said, like, hey, wants you to do your high school dance. And I was like, Oh, the school has money. I'm gonna pitch him on like, lasers and a concert sound system actually, like, I stole the idea from Jordan new housers company over in Chicago called Boom, entertainment. I saw his videos, I was like, This is so brilliant. And I don't know if Jordan knows this anymore, but, but I like took his videos and cover up his logo and put mine instead. And I told everybody like, this is what we could do at that high school. And they were like, this was the coolest thing we've ever seen in our whole life. And I was like, oh, yeah, like, I can totally do this, like, how much does it cost? And I had no idea. You know, like, I had no idea what I was doing. But that was basically got my first like, big production, like doing an actual legit production. And then, you know, in span of about two years or so we took over like 75% of the high school market in Arizona, which is a great way to get burnt out really fast.

Patrick Rife:

There's a lot of those.

Will Curran:

Yeah, and what's the hard part about high school dances is they all the homecomings all happen? Like basically, from September to like October, and maybe get into early November, and then proms are basically all in May. So, you know, if you're doing 75% of high schools, you know, there's like, I don't remember how many high schools or 3040 You know, like you were doing six events, seven events on one single night, and it was just like, absolute nightmare, but I learned like, really how to scale how to like delegate during that time, and you know, and how to be like, okay, when things went totally wrong, like, how do you do service recovery and all that sort of stuff?

Patrick Rife:

Yeah, yeah. I mean, like, so like, guy like so many feels happening over here listening to you tell your story, you know, like we I try not to have these, these podcasts be at all about us, like I really want to focus but it's hard not to like, you know, relate when we started pixelated a decade ago, and well before like, right at the Ark of like, the open air thing being Yeah, we're early in from the, the the jump, we built our own enclosures. And we were like, sourcing all the equipment. We weren't buying turnkey photobooth kits at all nice. Using other PC based software's. Yeah. And he

Will Curran:

basically tapped into a DSLR camera, and then like, we'll take it for you. And then yeah, that stuff was so cool. At first, I was like, well, it's

Patrick Rife:

amazing. So era one right was doing that. But it was like super, our greatest peak, we were running like 27 or 28 of these of these kiosks. But you know, like, everyone had a local computer and nothing was cloud based. You had to set everyone test every event. And then when it came back on Monday, right, so then like, a person would go out and right, they would keep it they have like a party Thursday night, a party Friday night, a party Saturday night, maybe like a Sunday morning thing and then bring it back. But it was hard to scale. And not only that, but your scale. Your your biggest it was for like three nights in the year. Yeah, the other time, it was a lot of stuff. So it was very hard to figure out that like that push and pull of it.

Will Curran:

Yeah. 100% Yeah, like, that was one reason why I like, really, when I might start doing production, we start doing like, we did everything production, right. Like, we could do any everything we could we were like tedious, but like, honestly, when we moved into corporate, it was just like, almost, it was like, a whole new business. You know, like, and that's like the dream for I think so many event companies do that. But it was just so much nicer to do that. And I think the thing I loved is like, when I got away from social events, I was just like, the clients like are a lot more forgiving. They like they they come from more busy business decisions, you know, the stakes are way higher, for sure. So if you f up, like, they're really mad, but like, you know, there's just so many more opportunities. And yeah, like it, like, the hardest part was, yeah, when you have that much on there, it's like, you know, especially when you have that physical infrastructure, and like when we went remote, that was really when I started, like, kind of, like, really believing in the idea that like, you didn't have to have physical infrastructure for your business. Because like, you know, as a production company, everybody was always constantly like, oh, like, so you own all your equipment. Right. And I was like, a qualifying question for you get an RFP. And like, you know, at first like, I just like, I just hope you're like, Yeah, we own everything, you know, and like, we'll you know, we'll figure it out. But then, like, what I realized is like, no, like, what it is, is that they had this preconceived notion that like all the owned equipment means that you're like, bigger than you really are. And so like having that physical infrastructure and being able to like release myself from it like so much easier. So I can't imagine like managing all the cameras and things like especially because that's like, so delicate in a way like I have a mirrorless camera like literally on my desk right now. And I'm like, Yeah, I don't know how many people out that actually even touch this thing. You know?

Patrick Rife:

What mirrorless is on your desk.

Will Curran:

I have an ace seven s three actually. I don't know if it can frame Yeah, this is my I sold all my other cameras. Over the last couple months. This is the only one I have left to To shoot content with and I bought it I remember being so excited about 4k video at 60 frames per second. I bought this on launch day and then we got so busy with the pandemic like that literally I didn't touch it for like a year and I was like cool I'm really glad I paid launch day price literally like went bent my back that backwards for it just to end up having it sit in the closet for

Patrick Rife:

a year because it's more convenient. Yeah, totally

Will Curran:

especially because especially over the iPhone a man cameras are so good now. Yeah,

Patrick Rife:

yeah, yeah, we actually are our software is built within integration with the Sony A series so any nice scripts that are in its series, we can cycle out to interface with our, with our photo software, so awesome. So at any rate, yeah, like I like much respect to the prom and homecoming hustle and like my God, what it is to kind of, you know, like, get through that have that be like a hurdle. And also like a lot of empathy with with corporate like it is a strikingly different world. Whether it's like getting getting the deals over the hump, once you gain that like trust side of it. That's wonderful. Is that at the corporate level, right at the social level, they want you to be doing like exceptional shit. That's never been seen. Yeah, you screw it up, you ruined like it ruin Christmas.

Will Curran:

You wrote Christmas or wedding like Christmas?

Patrick Rife:

Where is at the business level, they want things that are tried and true. They want them executed well, and tried and true is really much easier to execute well, right. So like that success rate. And the other thing I find with corporate is man they like really look like they know how to show you respect for what you're great at. And yeah, that's like, you know, like you spend enough time doing that. b2c to slash social b2b nonprofit like, yeah, lashes that gets

Will Curran:

nonprofit such a good transition into like corporate too, for sure.

Patrick Rife:

Yeah, yeah. So at any rate, like an interesting footnote, for sure,

Will Curran:

yeah. Well, it's funny to like you met, you mentioned the respect thing to like, that when I was doing like, the DJing person doing law, social events, it was funny how many times I like donate my services for free or cheap to be like, out in a park somewhere. DJing you know, and, you know, like, you did, you never really got out of that same level of like, oh, my gosh, thank you save me my life so much easier. We really appreciate you like, you know, like, and granted to like the services of DJing at that time to like, I luckily got away from DJing at the time, when I started showing up to high school dances, and kids would be like, Hey, here's this new I think Snapchat ad just coming out. But they'd be like, look at this new Snapchat, like song, you have this song. And I was just like, Dude, it's literally like a 32nd sample on Snapchat. So what the heck are you talking about, I was just like, I couldn't keep up. And I knew that like this age of like, everybody being in their own, like media bubble, like, what's going to happen, I was just like, I gotta get out of DJing. And I like that was I think one of the last times I ever DJ at a public event that I wasn't playing like my own mute, like, decided to music that I won't play every once awhile, like, my friends and I will rent like, we'll go out to like a canyon in the middle of nowhere and throw like a little mini rave or something like that. But, but like, you know, the days of like, being playing what other people want. I'm like, I'm just glad I got out. I don't know how anyone does it anymore.

Patrick Rife:

I mean, it's fascinating to see the way that DJ culture like continuously, like, evolves, and then falls back in on itself. I mean, yeah, yeah. I mean, like that, that era that has, you know, it's pretty firmly not the populace that it was, but you know, like, the era of Diplo Snapchat, where, like, he had finally, like, post all of the, like, massive global success, where he's just like getting flown, you know, like a guitar every every Tuesday to like, DJ some salt. And it's like, thanking the middle of the afternoon like that. You're saying,

Will Curran:

totally, totally, definitely has changed definitely has changed.

Patrick Rife:

So, so and then in terms of the company, right, so you guys are are now right, you're setting up? Like you said, seven years operating from from this remote perspective? Yeah. But I know, like, so if I come on you like on your website? And I'm looking at it, right. Like the perception, right, is that there's a lot of shops that are all around. Yeah, if we brought it in that explain a little bit about that kind of that business model and how you guys, you know, how you operate? Because it's probably some secret sauce that's in there.

Will Curran:

Yeah. I mean, you know, when we were remote it cuz like basically at that point, we had a little bit of cash and equipment in Arizona still at the time, or like a cash knowledge like dollar cash, but cash of equipment still in Arizona. And you know, we'd occasionally try to figure out how we could utilize it and stuff but it really was harder and harder to do. So we started realizing like, man, there's so many vendors like across the country that were like had so much inventory laying around that we were just like, we can tap into this and we can give the same prices that our customers are getting from other companies. We just have to negotiate Before we close the contract, rather than, like, I think where a lot of companies kind of fall into, which is like, hey, we'll give the if we rent, we have to pay the same price that we would to rent it. So we have to like, figure all that stuff out ahead of time. Well, anyways, when we were remote, like, I started, like having that equipment sit around more often, I was like, I don't really want to own equipment. So I started going through that thought process. And then what happened is I started hopping on sales calls with clients. And they'd be like, so do you own your equipment? And I was like, you know, what this like, pitch of saying, like, yes, we own all of it is just kind of getting old. Like, what? Like, I was like, You know what I'm gonna try. I think I was like, I finally told the customer, I was like, I don't know, we don't own any of our equipment. And I think I was like, but I think that's better. I feel horrible. Exactly. That's it, but they triggered it. And they inspired me, they're like, Yeah, that must be so nice. You don't have to worry about the equipment. You know, like, I'm getting the like, and then like, I just started figuring out this like, conversation. And since we're not really a production company more like feel free to anyone who wants to steal this model is basically I tell people is like, Look, you don't want someone who owns equipment for a couple of reasons. One, that like, equipment goes out of date. The second you buy, it's like use a car, you buy it, the second software lot, something new or better is already out there that you know, you're gonna want has better features. So, you know, that was one thing. I was like, Okay, well, if by me renting it, I can always make sure I'm using the newest stuff. I'm not trying to rent also the crappy stuff in my old my warehouse, but also told people I was like, Look, most of the time I see a lot of these companies quotes, they'll be like, bleeding edge technology, bleeding edge technology. And I'll be like, dude, that thing's like 10 years old. And the reason why they do that is that they want to make money off of what they own, they're not going to like if something new is available, and they have to rent it, or they own it, they're gonna always rent the thing that they're shipped, like, sell the thing that they own first. So I was like, Okay, well, you know what it means that you're gonna get better equipment, but then also then start digging deeper into it too. And being like, you know, what, why do people care that much, they own the equipment. And eventually, I got to the core reason why all that stuff is all like hype and helps you like sell the idea. But the thing they ultimately care about was like if something went wrong, how fast could you fix it? And people believe that if you owned it, you somehow could get a new piece of equipment back in there. Or you would have you know, backups or somewhere and I'm like, no, none of these companies do any of that. It's all sitting in warehouse. And chances are if something breaks, yeah, they might be gonna go back to the warehouse, but they're probably gonna have to rent it anyways. So what I started doing is realizing I was like, you know, it was like, I never thought of this as a problem, because it was never a problem for us. We always just like, whenever we had an issue, you know, like, we literally call up our company, rent them out and be like, Yo, the projector you sent to us that was in the midway through setting up isn't working, you need to send another one an hour later, a brand new one would be there. You know, how often does something actually go down on a show? It doesn't go down that often. But then realize, like, the story I always tell people is like, there's just one time we did an event the the CEOs on stage, and like, we did this big video projection mapping, setup and stuff. And he was like, I don't want to reveal any of this until the second day, he decided this like, the day before, we're like about to open, we're like, okay, like, you could have figured this out earlier, but whatever. And he's like, can we just drape it all off. And we need to also I think drape too for, like the hologram that we're doing or something like that. And so what ended up happening is like we rent, we literally called up our company that we use for draping go, Hey, we need drape. And they're like, Okay, cool. We ordered it, it placed in before the CEO got down from his rehearsals already up and running. Like we had the drape all up and go and set up and everything like that. And like, what I realized is like, then clients were like, oh, okay, like, I have nothing to worry about, then like, and then I realized, too, it's like most clients who are like, Oh, I'm in like Podunk Idaho doing an event, no offense to anyone, Idaho, but like, you know, it takes longer. Yeah, equipment out there. I'm like, Look, chances are yes, I can't compete with the guy who's like, has a small shop in that, you know, Idaho town, but then I realized eventually is like those were not my competitors. Yeah, those were not the people who could do the level production and organization that I did. So, you know, I think that's really where the remote kind of thing really shifted my mentality to think like, How can I do this business differently than everybody else is willing to do it? And sometimes, like, willing to go against the cash the like, the typical cliche, like ideas. Yeah.

Patrick Rife:

Yeah. I mean, like, you're talking about, like, like salesmanship and entrepreneurial like tendencies. Like at its core, right. Like, it's literally taking, you know, like a huge objection. I mean, like, look, like, we now rents photo booths, and we have zero staff, and you cannot get staff from us, unless you're the Baltimore Ravens and out for you, because they've been our person for 10 years, and we figure it out. But like, you know, like, that the same exact thing that you're talking about, like, we have to go through constantly, where it's, it's like, well, what, uh, what about staff? Like, how do we do this? And then yeah, like, and there's that perception as well of like, well, what if something goes wrong? But learning how to answer those objections, right, like we tell people well, you know, like, we I've shipped 1000s of these at this point, and we've never had one not show up one time. So like, Yeah, I'm sad, you know, like, we've got it you know, they like what if something goes wrong or like Well, we've got we've got a call line and we've actually never had any not have one line in work. So like, we our odds are really good and then all of a sudden you start just support hitting it with just honest answers about why their assumption is impractical. And the other thing like to your point about Idaho, and this is a huge value for us at corporate, right, like we've worked for. So we built a photo with platform right? Built in the cloud, we can do data capture and push it into Salesforce if you need it to. But that's not really what we do, we mostly just handled great photo experiences that are turnkey prebuilt, ready to go outside of the box, right. But the thing is, is like Under Armour wants to go and they want to do you know, they're going to do eight running dates across the United States. And they've got to go into every single market and try and figure out how to get it to look and feel even remotely the same. And like, in Idaho, you're gonna get Uncle John, who like does a photobooth business between his like, pit barbecue business, yeah. And then in Portland, Oregon, right, you're gonna get hipster Jane. And her thing is going to be like an iPad booth. And it's gonna be like, the light might not be great, right? But there'll be a how to do stickers. But don't think John will run like a DSLR, but will insist on doing like a print, that's the size of like a flag to come off. Because all of those sensibilities are just different. And total on here, like, not like, we can handle this for you. And we will make it look the same. Whether being in three markets, or whether we're doing it like across the globe. I mean, we've sold companies that, like they're in now they're in Japan, and they're in India, and they're in China, and they're in Russia, and they're across the United States. And, like, it's hard to find that right. Like it's far yeah, I'm sure you have clients that are like, Well, we were going to run something simultaneously in our eight offices, and we want it to be matchy matchy. And exactly, exactly do that when you're not working with a single provider.

Will Curran:

And you're so right, like, that was what ended up becoming like my value proposition. In the end was like, I realized that the best clients, for us were the ones that do multiple events, and they do them, they do multiple events, or they do one event, but it's never in the same location. Because like, if your events gonna be in Chicago for the rest of your life, and you're always gonna be Chicago, I'm sorry, local Chicago coming will probably beat us. And that's totally okay. But the chances are the second you need to leave Chicago and then go to San Francisco, it's completely that you have to rewrite the book. And like, I'm guessing too, like, when it comes to the, the photobooth stuff like they, if you do different vendors, they have different electrical needs, and like no one wants more details to manage and figure out and like, you know, for us, it was great to because we ultimately, because we had this rental model too. And because we had basically decided, instead of trying to be like the half foot in half foot out, we went to your rental, we could go these companies and be like, Hey, we're going to be renting a lot from you. So give us preferential pricing. And what we do is we go to our clients and be like, we can give you the same price we're having. And then also, what we ended up figuring out was like, we could give the same pricing no matter what city that you were in, you know, granted, like if unions got involved it sometimes add some complexity because your union suck, right. But, you know, I think that like it really allowed us to, like, yeah, create that, like really unique experience, and like really hone in on that in a lot of ways. And, you know, especially in a time where like, we were in the underdogs, like, you know, we were still building up our content, people knew us for our content, but we were not like the massive 800 pound gorilla, like, you know, as much as like, we try to look really, really professional on our website and look really polished in so many different ways. Like, we're still underdogs. 100% Like, we're still like, you know, I'd always rather be the underdog team, because it's way more fun.

Patrick Rife:

The underdog is the position to be in for sure. For sure. So I don't want to talk about COVID at all, because this is this is a definitely like a appears focused podcast. So all of us are done, I've done my job. But that being said, what I what I would like to just talk about is just get really practically into the weeds right now. Because I think it's a really interesting time. And I have no doubt that you guys have a ton of success happening. But I would guess that there's a lot of pain going on. Just from like, whether it's the supply chain, or whether it's the workforce or or all of those, they are just continuing fear like you're working. So I know that there's still people that are uncertainty, hedging and doing all those things. So and I happen to notice a post of yours fairly recently, just kind of beseeching the, you know, like the the event technology being on point right, and so yeah, a whole lot of cash got bent in the last 40 months, 2036 months in the event space, and like the lion's share of it built the same damn thing 462,000 times so now we're the place where like m&a is gonna get like the water is gonna get bloody. Going out like we see like, right hopping just corrected in a pretty good way. That's just the beginning. I think and I don't mean that to be a naysayer, but like, no, no, you ever you gotta read. Let's be realistic. So with that being said, I don't wanted to get into like, let's I don't wanna be trashy about it. What I'm curious to hear from you is like, where are those real big, whether it's the pain gaps that your clients aren't perceiving, like somebody I spoke to was like, Yeah, I'm trying to tell my customer he works for George P. Whatever. JBJ. Yeah, Johnson line. He's like, I gotta tell my client that the tractor trailer that was three grand last year is 21k this year, and they got to move like 40 tractor trailers for Salesforce or something like that. Yeah. But like, what is that? Where are those those big kind of problems that you see right now. And now a word from our sponsors.

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Will Curran:

Yeah, I think Well, I think one of the first most immediate ones is that still that uncertainty, like it sucks so much because like, we were like pushing and getting beyond like, the pandemic and we were like, Okay, now we're moving towards hybrid events. And then Omicron came and like, rip that in some ways. And, you know, and then people were like, Okay, I'm Crohn's, not as bad as we thought it was. Okay, let's get continue getting back to where we were. And then now like, there's this looming recession, that's gonna happen, and that scares the shit out of everybody. So I think like, that uncertainty is enough like to, like, that's like, on a normal day. That's bad enough. But like, you know, we have the supply chain issues we have, you know, people issues, but I think one of the biggest problems that we're seeing is that, like, no one seemed to 100% learn what they learned from the pandemic, like, the idea of like, what is actual good stuff that engages people? Like, we tell people like, hey, it's not the technology is gonna solve it. It's gonna be great content, great speakers. You know, it's the same damn speakers and personnel. And the problem is, is that now you instead of getting complete turnouts, and like only 10 people showing up to the jam session, because it sucks so much, you're getting still, you're maybe getting the 100 people, 1000 people to show up to the session, but 75% of them are on their phones, and they're distracted, right? And they're just scrolling through Tik Tok, or whatever it is. So I think like that true audience engagement, no one learned from anything in the pandemic on how to do it the right way. I think the other thing is that people still don't know what quite what to do with virtual now at this point. They're like, like, Okay, I like had this virtual thing, but it didn't work. So I'm gonna move to like, doing it all in person, and I'm gonna ditch everything virtually. It's like, well, no, that's not exactly works. You like missing out on this huge audience, you're missing a huge accessibility chances, huge diversity chances. And I think that, like, we so many people are just kind of like, falling back into, like, 2019. And like, I think the only thing I can think I can hope for is that like this past the recession, and they're like, really thinking actively about it is going to be the final thing. So then people can start actually building moving forward. But I think right now, like, people are so burnt out, they'd rather just choose the easy option, right now, then to choose the one that makes a better event. And I'm really scared that we're going to have the exact same type of events, we are in 2019. All over again. And so, you know, that's what I really feel like, is really the pain that's happening is just like, burnt out mixed with uncertainty mixed with, like, ready just to like it to be 2023. And we can just keep, like, Let's do whatever. It's the best, the best thing is gonna be but you know, to be honest, it's too much work to do hybrid screwing.

Patrick Rife:

I mean, it's it's staggering. Me and the lack of creativity is Yeah, staggering. Like one of the things that I like, what I thought was gonna happen, right is I thought, like, the Kansas City Heart Association was going to like, go virtual, right? And like, like, we knew right away that you were going to maybe move over like 15% of your life people to this virtual thing. So you're gonna have a new audience, but like, who cares? Because now you can get heart enthusiast from across the globe. And rather than it being like a marquee annual event, it's a community right? Where there's monthly chats, and there's ways to get involved. And it's like, there's initiatives and it really connects to all of these people. And then when I have events come back, it is just it isn't an additional component to this new robust, kind of like 365 strategy to get that new virtual audience, so like, why are you going to just lop it off? But you know, that's not that's just that's just not what?

Will Curran:

Yeah, no. I think like, so many people saw, like, how hard it virtual was, and then it like, I think the thing that like no one's I mean, everyone's kind of talking about in some ways about like, the burnout and the stress and everything like that. But like, no one's thinking about to like, it's not necessarily just about like, oh, overall, the burnout, it's just like, you just had this layer of blindness over everything that's been happening over like, the last three years that like, you know, it's, it's made it really, really easy to be like, when something didn't work, like a virtual event, to be like, I don't want to put 120% in to really get 20% results back. And yeah, it's kind of like you said, Yeah, I think there was this huge opportunity to, like, learn from what we're doing and evolve from it. But it's, it's definitely not happening, at least in this, I think these next this next year, maybe next six months, at least,

Patrick Rife:

you know, so from a from a like, there's a we built a virtual tool, like we go to virtual photo booth, we had been, I had wanted to build, I've been pitching it to my customers for years before the pandemic and what I wanted to do was I was pitching it to, to visitors bureaus, right to DMCs. And I was like, no, like, visit Baltimore, I see you with the like, two page southwest spread, like every month, like QR code in the bottom, and people can like scan it, and they can take a picture. And then they can like enter to win a fly away. And you know, like, put them in a Marriott and give them like a steak dinner and like, do these these whatever things. So I had been pitching it. And then we just never had the bandwidth to build it or the or, frankly, built the money to build it. Then COVID comes along and it's like, oh, that thing like people are calling it a virtual photo booth. Like let's let's let's do it for this reason now. And you know, like, we're still NERT we built it as a SAS which is similarly to so the pixelated model is like pixelated sells these photo experiences, right. And if it's a kiosk rental, we use our software and hardware to facilitate that rental model. And if it's a virtual thing, we use our software to facilitate it. But on the other side, we also offer both of them as SAS models, right, so like, you know, destination centers and breweries will have our kiosks and subscribe to it and use it as like a marketing tool. And then the same thing goes for, you know, a lot of HR departments, our subscribers have our virtual tool, because for them, it's not really about a virtual event, it's a way for them to whatever, put a QR code up for like nurse appreciation, we through all of their nursing centers, and it's a way to drive engagement amongst our employees and

Will Curran:

pictures up and stuff like that. Yeah, so I

Patrick Rife:

feel pretty good about where we will pilot that, that tool that we built. And I think that there's a lot of legs for it. But at the same time, like it's, it's, it's a shame how much of the r&d got kind of shoved into, you know, like, I'll be, you know, I'll be hot Taiki for a second and like, shoved into like web pages that have like places to embed widgets and like, yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. Like, that's, that's what an event personal event platform is. It's a Yeah, yeah, it's

Will Curran:

a container. Yeah.

Patrick Rife:

And you containers, and that's great. Like, I'm not saying it needs to be more than that. But I'm also saying that like,

Will Curran:

Why does there have to be 365 333

Patrick Rife:

Right? Like, why didn't anybody find anything? Like truly clever you inside of them as opposed to just kind of like, you know, like, yeah, we still like photo like Apple put photo booth on it's like, first laptops like 20 years ago, right? Like, you've been able to do a quiz like in every single media for like, you know, there wasn't a lot of unique that happened happened in there. So I see your point.

Will Curran:

Yeah. And like I mean to your you kind of briefly mentioned that idea of like how like so many platforms are doing the exact same thing and like you know, we talked about that on the event tech podcast so much with Brandon I think we even mentioned it a little bit today during the recording it's just like, yeah, like it there's so much that's so similar and I think what happened is that like there's a burst of like funding and energy and clients and things that and what happens like usually in the beginning, as all businesses happen is that you start off being super innovative right and like you're doing incredible things and you can move fast you can do things but then like as you start to get more customers like like you were talking about, like the consistency and the the calm needs to come and like you know, like that innovativeness isn't rewarded as much as it as it is when you aren't Where are being like if we're having a reliable option and so I think what ends up happening is like so many places like started off being really different. And then they realize like, almost all customers have the exact same needs and then you end up like building into this like monotonous situation and like grand that's the hardest part about scaling a business is like You know, like, how do you still build that energy and excitement that you did when you were small? And you know, I don't necessarily have the answer for that stuff like me, you know, I used to joke and say like Amazon was a perfect or not Amazon, Apple is a perfect example of that going in the wrong way. But now they seem to be returning back to the center of innovation. But granted, they have so much freakin cash, they can do whatever the hell they want. And they have the ability to make mistakes and things like that. But you know, you see it like, and you know, that no one got fired for hiring IBM saying is that like, just as you get bigger, like it becomes, becomes that you become like, more stale, and everything like that they do. So I think like, the interesting thing that you will happen is that, like, all these consolidations will happen, and then you'll start to get these big monsters that come in. And then the hope is that, yeah, like someone comes along and kind of disrupts it and is able to scale but often stay innovative when going through it. But, you know, I think it's one of those things, too, that the question gets, asked, too, is like, at some point, though, to like, who really needs the most innovative thing ever? You know, at some point, I bet people in the events industry are so adverse to, to things going wrong. And things like failing that, like if you tell someone that this is innovative, they are going to immediately associate failure to that or potential for failure. And I think sometimes, you know, to go back to the original thing is people when they asked me, you know, why do you not all your equipment, it wasn't because they didn't understand what I was trying to do. They just had no concept that it was possible. And then once they hear, like, all this information about how it's a better option, and how failure is low, that's how they got convinced into doing it. So like, you know, I think that's gonna be really, really interesting. Like, you know, I guess this begs the question for, like, the future is like, is the events industry capable of innovation when fear of failure is so high? within it? Yeah, I don't know.

Patrick Rife:

I mean, it's, it's a fascinating point, particularly when you realize that, you know, like, there's like an inverse thing happening, right? The people with the budget to innovate are the also the people that are most fearful of falling on their face in pursuit of any kind of innovation. So like, right. And one

Will Curran:

thing to add into is like, so like, for like, we have a persona within our like our marketing that we focus on called events, Elliott events, Elliott is like an event manager within a company, but they don't have direct access to like the CEO, they usually like they might report to a director of marketing that reports to a CMO that reports to the CEO, but like, when you're so far removed from the decision makers at that point to like, you know, you have no real power to do anything. So like, and you have more to lose by failing than you do to have to gain from innovation.

Patrick Rife:

Oh, yeah. And events, Elliott's the one filling out the contact form, right? Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And then you're following up? And he's like, Oh, I don't know, like, I sent it over to them.

Will Curran:

Yeah, oh, I can't get that extra $100,000 budget to do that thing. Me, you know, because that I just can't get the budget. Here's the budget, you have to stick with it. And but, you know, yeah, it's really, really tough. I think that's where, like, I think one of the biggest challenges within the events industry is that like, we as events, professionals, and primarily, I think, like, because we target primarily internal planners, within corporations, like, the more that they can talk about ROI and data and talk about how to integrate said achieving the company's larger goals for the year to the lifetime or whatever it is, like, the more that they'll gain respect that, you know, it'd be the same amount of respect as CMO or a CRO or, you know, whoever it is, like, even the chief people officer, or like, you'll get that same level of respect. But when you keep talking about linens, and you know, like, you know, what, what the, what the, the theme of the year is gonna be, or you bring in a speaker who doesn't who like, you know, just motivates people in general like that, the more you just do that, the more that, like, no one's gonna respect that professionals.

Patrick Rife:

Yeah, yeah, no, you're absolutely right. And while at the same time, like you're dealt with, like, your points of contact, knowing that's the bottom line, right? No, yeah. But then you're like trying to tell them about data. And you're like, guys, you know, like, we're like, we're your intermediate where you're, we're going to interface with your people, right? And your people are at a marathon and their endo running. And now we know where we've met them, and around what sport we've met them and that they're into it, and they gave you their email address. So like, let's email them in the morning and say, good job, kiddo. You're probably feeling Yeah, love, like, here's a $5 like, discount on protein bars or replenishment or like, wanting to do that thing. And then you've got that big juggernaut brand that's going like, that sounds amazing. But we just put all of our CSVs in, like a digital junk drawer right now. Yeah. We're like elbow, we knew that's how we should be. Like, we scaled crazy fast. And we still have like some dorm room practices at the core of this big business. And you're like, you know, like, it's hard to, and they're not going to ever rock that boat. Right? Yeah. It's, I mean, because they shouldn't because it would be insurmountable for that person to be able to have positive impact on that problem.

Will Curran:

Yeah, and I think The reason why events like honestly don't like, more So go on, like they always return back, right? Like, I think when things stop working, like in marketing or sales, like people chop it off and never come back to it because it never works, right? Like, oh, like, like newspaper ads don't work anymore, stop and do it. Like, the thing with events. And the reason why I keep coming back is because people fucking love them. Like, they're like, everybody loves events, like I do events for a living, and I literally pay money to go to more events, like, right, like, some events, less than others, but like, you know, like, I think we all are wholly okay with going to an event. And so I feel like it's the thing that like, everyone's like, yeah, it's gonna totally work. Oh, yeah. So way we can get them in. And you put everybody in the room is like totally different energy. And it's like, it's just its own new, unique thing. But then the problem is that, like, you never figure out how to, like, take it from being just like, a great experience to being like, how is it actually making money for the company. And like, you know, it's funny how, like an IMAX, I think, 2021, I did a speaking engagement, about how planners need to start thinking about their events is like a subscription model. And like, it blew people's minds. I'm like, Guys, you literally don't see how everything in our world is becoming subscription model. Like ice, like BMW just announced that you can pay $7 a month to get seat heaters, their heat cedars on, that's a company who literally said, we are going to put seat heaters on every single car, we are going to incur the expense. But then we're going to subscription eyes it. Like, if you do not see that trend that we're all moving towards, like, you need to hop on that. And then like it goes back to the idea of the community stuff that you talked about, like there's so many options, but the problem is that like everyone, yeah, like, I always say like the everyone gets stuck in linens and catering world, but it's also sometimes too, like, getting caught up with like, Oh, hey, how do we, you know, make the CEO happy, for what like going to the event, or whatever it is, it's like, you know, what I would do, I would stand up to the CEO and say, it's not about making you happy, it's about making this company money. So, you know, I understand that you're the CEO, but you're a terrible speaker, you're not going to speak we're going to bring in, you know, Gary Vaynerchuk, to tell the exact same thing, but with more pravasi. And we're gonna get him to like, endorse the product that we're doing, you know, whatever it may be like, I don't know exactly what it looks like, in a lot of ways, because, depending on case, but, you know, I think that a lot of times, like, you know, I think the people who are going to really change things are the ones who are going to be not afraid to be a little disruptive, like, or not a little, a lot disruptive a lot to within their organizations.

Patrick Rife:

Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I agree with you. Well, I feel like I could like that we could probably chat for like, four years. This has been really rewarding, really thoughtful thing. So I can't tell you how much I really appreciate you, you sharing your time with us. I know you're a busy guy. So, you know, maybe we can reschedule around to some time around to whenever you want. But we're for the sake of you know, like this being a commutable. Podcast, probably blown a little bit, but we'll wrap it up. But before we wrap it up, I've got a few lightning round questions. Or I will hand you the podium to let everybody know where they can get in touch. So question number one, I'm coming to Phoenix, and I'm hungry. Where am I going?

Will Curran:

Phoenix burrito house. That's where I take everybody Yeah, it's best burritos. You know, I think I'll you know everybody in Phoenix has an opinion on like, where they get the best like Mexican food and stuff is I think burritos are truly an Arizona thing because burritos were not created in Mexico. They're actually created in Arizona. Most people don't know that. And so I go to Phoenix brew house. It's not greasy, it's like very like filling but then not and they can make you feel like crap afterwards. And then if you're like, Oh, that was delicious. I'm ready for like the next level. I'll take you someplace. I'll make you feel terrible the next day.

Patrick Rife:

And what burrito

Will Curran:

I get I called the epic burrito. I do like a breakfast burrito with ham bacon, egg cheese, potatoes, and then I add refried beans. So it's it could be breakfast. It could be launch. It could be dinner. I can eat anytime today. All right. All right.

Patrick Rife:

I'm a big reader fan. So okay, um, last thing you were listening to or like, like, whatever. Yeah, last thing you do that was getting you stoked.

Will Curran:

Oh, like, like, like, and music wise, there's gonna be so yeah, I'm getting excited. In a couple weeks or so we're heading to bass Canyon. It's at this venue called the Gorge in Washington. It's like living on the side of a cliff and I'm here I spun Drum and Bass when I was like, starting in 2007. I gave it up to start the like the DJ company in the backyard stuff. So I've always been like a like a bass music kind of fan but more Drum and Bass well recently saw oxygen maybe a year or two ago for the first time live. And like now I love bass music. So this is a festival that he puts on literally will be my first time ever camping at a festival we're renting an RV will be in the middle of nowhere. So the playlist I've been listening to is called BASS Canyon 2022 And it's like two songs from every single artist that's playing there.

Patrick Rife:

Love it. Awesome. Okay, um, I'm in Phoenix and I needed to go hike. Like I've got like, I don't have I can't like do a 10 mile or like a Yeah, I'm no business but I've gotten our our three to give a little exercise.

Will Curran:

So it depends also if it's I said July or is it December? One of each? Okay, so if it's in July, don't take in Phoenix, you'll probably die and you'll believe Carrie being carried out with a helicopter, and shout outs also to my girlfriend. She's much better hiker than me. So I, she probably would answer this question way better than me. But if it was July, I would actually say, skip Phoenix go to Sedona. It's a little like a small town outside of Flagstaff, Red Rocks. It's the most beautiful place in Arizona, for sure. And there's a place called Devil's bridge. That's pretty cool, short hike, you can do like less than an hour in Phoenix. I would say Camelback Mountain, probably it's hard, because it's like straight up vertical. It's pretty intense. It might take you like an hour and a half, and you'll be sweating in December doing it. But what's cool about Phoenix because it's surrounded by mountains, it's a mountain right in the middle of the fifth largest city in the country. So you let it get up there and 360 views you see, literally were like, you know, whatever, 5 million people live or so and it's so cool. And that's that's very, very unique.

Patrick Rife:

Amazing. Well, before we wrap up, let everybody that's listening now. You know, what's a good way to follow along and engage with you to you know, engage your company?

Will Curran:

Yeah, I get the shot at the big game. Hello on list.com. If you haven't done that already, go check out all the content, subscribe, and three podcasts, tons of webinars, you know, 900, blog posts or something like that now. And then if you want follow me, Will kern.com Just my name.com. And that's where all my socials are. That's where you can find more links to podcasts and all that fun stuff. And also a link to when I did a blogging for a whole year in 2019. And you could see what it was like, wills life was like pre pandemic.

Patrick Rife:

Awesome. Awesome. Well, we'll, again, on behalf of myself and all of the listeners to our podcast. Thank you so much again for spending so much time with us answering questions giving us such thoughtful, considerate responses.

Will Curran:

Thanks so much, Patrick, by the way, fun fact, my middle name is Patrick. So we are in India and so when I went by Patrick actually until sixth grade so that there's a fun fact not everybody knows. Me. I'll

Patrick Rife:

take it. I'll take it.

Will Curran:

Thanks so much, Patrick.

Patrick Rife:

Yeah. Okay guys. So there brings us to the end of this interview Kashi one second please brings us to the end of this interview. We will current from endless events, incredible information. I really mean it when I say that I feel like I've got more so maybe you'll see some more come come from us in the future. Two things before you go. One, make sure you hit the links that are in the bio for this podcast go connect with will follow along, check out this company. If you got something good for them, you know, hit the contact contact form clearly an exceptional professional with great services. And then number two, if you haven't yet, make sure that you are subscribed to the podcast. So each time we publish a new episode, you're notified. And if you have a moment, click the Review button wherever you're listening, whether this is Apple or Spotify or what have you. Leave us a five star review. If you don't want to leave us five star review. Don't leave any at all. Because haters don't need to hate. You know I respect your rights and your opinion. Don't get me wrong, but at the same time, go find a podcast you want to leave a five star review for instead. But that being said, thank you all for tuning in. We'll thank you again for for being our guest and until next time, I am Patrick rife from the pixelated podcast. Peace