Despite the long lines and large crowds, people usually think of fun when they think of festivals. That changed for Aly Hussaini when he caught a glimpse of the hard work behind the revelry as he watched his sister struggle with the challenges that come with running big events.
“She was pulling her hair out,” Hussaini tells Hypepotamus. “Even though her ticketing was taken care of, her operations were a complete mess. She had troubles with the vendors, the volunteers, the distributors, the sponsors … they were all over the place.”
He wrote some code in a couple of days to help his sister manage her event coordination woes, and, as he put it, “that was supposed to be the end of the story.”
Years later, he and Nausheen Punjani found themselves listening to the issues associated with running another large festival — and struck by a keen sense of déjà-vu.
“They had the same problems my sister was having,” Hussaini said. Reveling in the coincidence between the two experiences, Hussaini and Punjani made the decision to quit their jobs and team up to start Peachtree Corners-based event management platform Eventeny two years ago.
Eventeny seeks to remove the stress from running festivals and large events by automating many of the processes associated with it on a single platform. Eventeny allows event coordinators to review and accept vendor applications, then stores and organizes their data. It also streamlines volunteer management by automating communication and hiring processes, and helps maintain relationships with event partners.
“It goes all the way from managing all of your vendors and volunteers in one place, managing all of your sponsors in one location to communicating, scheduling and messaging with them, to keeping track and managing them over time,” says Punjani. “All of that happens internally, within the platform. Even if you have 40 events, you can manage all of that in one place.”
When the time came to start looking for clients, the Eventeny team began in their own “backyard” of Gwinnett County. “We reached out to a lot of city halls nearby,” says Punjani, including a pitch to the city of Suwanee received so enthusiastically that the city remains an advisor to the company to this day.
The city of Suwanee wasn’t the only potential client to respond positively. “Almost all of them actually said, ‘yeah, we are interested in the platform,’” says Punjani. Encouraged by their clients’ initial feedback, Hussaini and Punjani decided to branch out to serve larger festivals, consulting groups, private organizations and conventions. Two years later, the company has been involved in more than 500 events spanning 17 states — mostly via word-of-mouth recommendations.
Despite Eventeny’s rapid growth, Hussaini and Punjani also recognize that the company solves a very real problem. Research shows that event coordinators have one of the top 10 most stressful jobs in the world, rivaling active military personnel, police officers, firefighters, and airline pilots. Although most event coordinators don’t face life-endangering situations, they do find themselves stressed out by constantly working evenings and weekends and by consistently wearing too many hats on the job.
“They’re usually short-staffed,” says Punjani. “They’re usually dealing with about three staff members, who are dealing with 400 vendors and exhibitors, about 50 sponsors, and sometimes even thousands of volunteers. Try to imagine three people doing all of that.”
“They have to manage so many different things,” adds Punjani. “They have to write checks to different vendors and their sponsors, they have to manage volunteer schedules — and they have to do all these things separately. Nothing links them together.”
Eventeny’s free integrated platform allows users a host of services, including a dedicated event URL, as well as SEO assistance, event itineraries, email support, unlimited registration capabilities for vendors, distributors, volunteers, and others, and more. Paid versions of the platform also include event map customization, management dashboards, and assistance with scheduling, sponsorship management, staff onboarding and training, customer support, and other capabilities.
Two years in, Eventeny’s clients include some of the most popular events in the Southeast, including MomoCon, the Atlanta Jazz Festival, Anime Weekend Atlanta, the Kirkwood Spring Fling, and many others. The realization that so many different event types use Eventeny with ease floors Hussaini.
“A year ago, we joked that, in time, our customers would know more about the product than the ones who built it,” says Hussaini. “We passed that so early that our customers know ways to create events the way they want to, and then the platform helps them. We never thought we could accommodate events of so many genres in one platform, but our customers are learning from each other, and the platform, adapting and growing.”
“Our customers are the owners of this product. They are the architects of it,” adds Hussaini. “They are the ones who have the basic problem and they have guided us from Day 1 until today.”
Eventeny is a bootstrapped company that prides itself on its organic growth, but eventually, the company does plan to pursue venture funding, and Punjani remains patient.
“We want to make sure we bring in the right partners,” she says. “Whether it’s our customers, our users, us, or even our investors and partners, they’re part of a journey, part of a bigger picture. We want to know that we have the right people in mind that are not just providing us with financial support, but actually supporting the company and helping us grow.”