Former BusyEvent CEO: Stepping Aside Was “Not A Difficult Decision”BY: Corey Cummings | November 13, 2012
This past week St. Louis event management startup BusyEvent announced that the two man team had brought on some big name executives leading up to the launch of its revamped mobile platform next year. Alyn Essman has come onboard as BusyEvent’s new CEO, and Bud Albers, president of Interactive Technology Strategies, has joined as a technical advisor.
Essman, who retired over a decade ago, has been an advisor and investor in BusyEvent since it was founded by David Schenberg and Brian Slawin in 2006. A specialist in accounting, Essman took over as CEO of CPI Corp in 1973 and led the rapid expansion of Sears Portrait Studios throughout the US into the 1980s. Former CEO David Schenberg pointed to Essman’s financial experience as one of the key elements to getting the startup on-track for its new product.
“He’s gotten knee deep in the business modeling and challenges us,” said Schenberg. “If he’s not satisfied then we need to go through the process until he is.”
Schenberg said that BusyEvent’s other new executive, Bud Albers, has also been putting the growing company through its paces. Albers was the former CTO at Disney Interactive, and left the company to start his own technical advisory startup in St. Louis last year. The new technical advisor’s first task was to assist the founders in choosing the right development team in the city for its upcoming platform.
“Bud probably shaved a month off our timeline and saved us $100,000 in labor,” said Schenberg. “His encouragement is what got us to have the difficult discussions before we even got started with our development group.”
When it came to his decision to step aside as CEO, Schenberg said he’s confident the move was right for the company going forward. “This is my first company I’ve ever run,” admitted Schenberg. “I’ve made, I’m sure, all of the typical mistakes of a first-time CEO… It was not a difficult decision for me.” In his new role, Schenberg will continue to work on what he knows best: marketing in the events industry and spreading the word about BusyEvent’s focus on “return on action,” a phrase that the company has recently trademarked.
Schenberg explained that, even at small events, return on investment is very difficult for companies to measure. Instead, BusyEvent focuses on measuring return on action — an area where the startup is able to gauge the true interest of attendees based on what they do with materials made digitally available following the event. BusyEvent can measure the true interest of attendees by, for instance, examining which PowerPoint presentations were viewed after a showcase, and pass along the info to those companies to help them send targeted follow-up emails, instead of the unfocused email blast to everyone who stopped by their booth.
The current platform has return on action capability, but the new platform will enable more moderately-sized events to gain access to the tools that, up until now, only big-name venues could afford. “We’re just as interested in scaling down, to take care of the 200 group meeting, as the 200,000 CES event,” said Schenberg.
BusyEvent’s new platform will undergo UI evaluation with focus groups before the end of the year, according to Schenberg, and is expected to be released by the first quarter of 2013.