While virtual meetings and Zoom happy hours have filled both personal and professional schedules over the past six months, it still feels nearly impossible to stay engaged and excited about online networking. There’s even a good chance you’re reading this while listening to one of the countless Zoom calls on your calendar today.
But one company out of Georgia Tech — Atlanta-based Gatherly — is rethinking the very structure of virtual conferences and just might be the answer to those fighting Zoom fatigue during endless video calls.
Gatherly is designed to improve digital interaction. Moving away from the one speaker, many listeners model used on Zoom conferences, the video conferencing platform is designed to seamlessly allow individuals to navigate a virtual conference center and meet individual attendees along the way.
Co-Founder Christopher Cherian told Hypepotamus that Gatherly is focused on driving virtual engagement as offices remain closed and in-person events continue to be cancelled in 2020. “People are itching to go back to in-person events because they’re tired of staring at ‘conferences’ that are essentially endless youtube videos,” said Cherian.
“GoToWebinar’s 2020 report suggested that increasing attendee engagement involved using the ‘raise hand’ feature a little more…which we firmly disagree with. Increasing attendee engagement involves using more natural ways of letting individuals participate, and creating long lasting connections,” he continued.
For the Gatherly team, more natural engagement comes by building maps and customized “convention floors” for virtual attendees to explore and gather. Attendees are encouraged to meet for side video conversations and jump between rooms to meet new speakers, mimicking what conference attendees would do in-person naturally during an event.
Gatherly layouts are customizable, allowing event planners to build different floors and rooms appropriate for their needs. Guided maps help attendees navigate between floors and the lobby in order to find speakers they are looking to engage with.
Video capabilities are built in, so there is no need for attendees to download additional software onto their computer.
Early team members are students or recent alumni from Georgia Tech and the University of Pennsylvania, but the team is quickly expanding as they work on new features to drive even more virtual engagement.
Since their official launch in April, national universities and conference event planners have already started using Gatherly as a Zoom alternative. According to Cherian, funding talk is just around the corner.
Most recently, Gatherly was the official host platform for Demo Day for Georgia Tech’s Create-X program, where 70 student-run companies virtually pitched to potential investors and other community members. Attendees were able to ‘walk’ around booths to meet the teams building the next Atlanta-based startups in healthcare, fintech, retail, and consumer goods.
Not only did Gatherly host the Demo Day event, the team also participated after spending the summer with Create-X.
Moving forward, Gatherly will host events for the Northern New England Clinical Oncology Society, Tech COVID-19 Innovation Showcase in Atlanta, and even a few planned events in Europe.