Marc Thiele is a one-man-band organizer of events for designers, developers and creatives. He uses event platform, Vito, to bring his community together online.
“There are plenty of platforms that give you the technology and the features. But with Vito you’re also setting the tone for your event. It makes a difference.”
— Marc, founder of beyond tellerrand
How to capture a community feeling at an online event
When the pandemic hit, Marc Thiele needed a creative way to stay connected to the 5,000 person community he’d built around his event series, beyond tellerrand. Running online events was an option, but Marc was concerned he wouldn’t find a platform that would allow him to capture the community feeling he works hard to create at his in-person conferences.
“I tested many different platforms and attended a lot of online events, but I hadn't found the one thing that I really liked in terms of how it felt. I can't really put my finger on most of the things. It just didn’t feel right.”
Some of the solutions he tried felt too simplistic, while others were overly bloated and complicated for his needs. Though some individual aspects were appealing, none of these platforms struck the right balance overall.
To create the perfect atmosphere for his online events, Marc needed a platform that felt lightweight but still had robust community features. The focus needed to be on the attendee experience, not the technology powering it.
“I tried all the one-to-one things like Zoom. I tried YouTube, Twitch, and then a couple of others, like Hopin, Remo, and Brella. There's a lot of stuff out there. All of them have some good features but some have too many and it becomes overwhelming.”
As he explored the event software landscape, Marc noticed that many platforms attempted to replicate in-person experiences in different ways. Some emphasized peer-to-peer networking. Some tried to virtually recreate physical spaces like stages and sponsor booths. But Marc wasn’t convinced that this approach would work for his events.
“I don’t think you can create a platform that matches the one-to-one experience from in-person events. It's not the same. Instead, you need to ask how can we create something that works online but still feels community-like?”
Marc had the idea to host an innovative live ‘virtual café’ event every few weeks called Stay Curious. With a strong sense of how he wanted these events to feel, Marc was relieved to discover an online event platform that would allow him to deliver on his vision.
A friendly and inviting space to gather online
After being unimpressed with the existing solutions, and underwhelmed by most of the online events he’d attended, Marc was excited to learn about a new platform entering the market from the makers of Tito, the trusted registration software he had been using for years.
“One day Paul [founder of Tito] told me they were working on a new platform called Vito and showed me around. It was very basic in the beginning, but straight away it felt right. The approach is a different one from most of the platforms I’d tried, and they have evolved the product a lot since then.”
With its streamlined feature set, community tools, and commitment to prioritizing the participant experience, Marc felt confident Vito would be a great match for the type of online event he was looking to run.
“I like Vito’s whole approach of creating a community platform that focuses on capturing the spirit of why people get together, but doesn’t try to imitate the physical one-to-one experience of in-person events. That’s what made me land on Vito.”
The attendee experience is a top priority for Marc, and this starts when users first enter the event space, known as the hub. Vito’s supportive onboarding process is designed to let participants know that they’re private by default and that they have the ability to control their own visibility within the hub at any time.
“Vito attempts to create a safe space where people can meet or hang out in a friendly environment. There’s this friendliness that shines through if you go through the whole registration process, and even if you need support and have questions.”
The company behind Vito was another selling point. From using their registration software, Tito, Marc had already come into frequent contact with the founder and the rest of the team, and was impressed by their values-driven approach to building products, and how they treat their customers.
“There’s a great vibe behind what they do. How they approach stuff — they're always very friendly, very quick, and have very good support. It’s great for the community, and you often get the impression that they break a leg to make things happen. I really like this about them.”
After finding the perfect platform to launch his new online event series, Marc was confident that he would be able to deliver a friendly and interactive experience his community would love.
An experiment opens up new possibilities
After running his first event on Vito, Marc was delighted to hear that his attendees’ feedback was overwhelmingly positive and matched his own experience of the platform, particularly around safety.
“I asked them afterwards, "How does it feel?" and everybody said that they liked the fact that they were asked right at the start if they wanted to stay private, in which case they stayed completely hidden. It made them feel in control and it set the right tone for the event. In the end, it’s all about the gut feeling that you get from a platform and what their intention is, because a lot of the actual features are the same from platform to platform. The tone is what makes a difference, I think.
Having found a great-fit platform in Vito and hearing his choice validated by his audience, Marc now felt optimistic about the prospect of hosting online experiences centred around the attendees.
“Vito is for anyone who wants to create or maintain their community. In the beginning I was looking for a technical solution to transport the vibe from my in-person events to an online event. But when I started to think of it more as simply a space where people can join and be my guest, I realised the most important part is the people being there.”
While the pandemic has made it impossible for Marc to run physical events, Vito allows him to run Stay Curious as a regular series every couple of weeks. This is not just a financial lifeline, but a way for Marc to keep his large community connected and engaged.
“The platform allows me to take care of the community that I already have. It's important in this time to stay connected to the people that usually come to my events and to say, "Well, let's meet online," and give them a space and place to do that. So, it's not that I want to take my offline events and bring them online and tell people this is how I want to get their money. It's really about the personal connection with my audience.”
Now an enthusiastic convert to the possibilities of online, Marc is already thinking about how else he might use Vito to connect with people in the future, even once he returns to running in-person events.
“I would love to find a way or define a concept where I am able to use Vito during an in-person event as my online platform so people can follow along remotely, perhaps for a subscription or fee. Not just a stream of the talks but also a little TV show where someone is a reporter having interviews with people and stuff, like a beyond tellerand TV, if you like. There's a few things I'm thinking about for how to use it after the pandemic is over.”
Ready to start running your own community events online like Marc? Request access to Vito’s online conference platform and start bringing your community together today.