“The resetting behaviors associated with the pandemic have surfaced massive opportunities in the areas of networking at virtual events, and remote work in general.” 
Lawrence Coburn

Lawrence Coburn

Founder

Location: San Francisco | New York City | Phoenix | Calgary

Q&A with Lawrence Coburn, founder of event tech company twine

“twine is the simplest and most compelling tool that allows you to add serendipitous networking and connection to your event. Drop twine into any event platform and host powerful conversations with our library of conversation starters.”

 

Some of you may recognize Lawrence’s name from a previous company he founded at DoubleDutch (acquired by Cvent).  DoubleDutch was one of the fastest growing companies in the world at the time. You can read more about that experience in this interview with Julius Solaris on EventMB.

EventPros.com: twine started as an idea to get people to meet face-to-face, and in real life. The pandemic hit early into that effort, so meeting in real life was no longer a viable model. Instead of shutting down and exploring a different industry, you pivoted, but stayed in the event space. What were the driving factors for you?  What opportunities did you (and do you) see that convinced you to stay in the events sector?

Lawrence: Coming out of DoubleDutch, I knew exactly the problem that I wanted to work on.  Assisted serendipity, networking, using the power of software to meet new people – whatever you want to call it – this is a theme that I’ve been circling since the early 2000s.

While the pandemic squashed our plans for a software assisted, face to face social network, all was not lost – in fact, the opportunity to build software that connected people got much, much bigger.  The resetting behaviors associated with the pandemic have surfaced massive opportunities in the areas of networking at virtual events, and remote work in general.  

In my mind, serendipitous connections have always been the heartbeat of the events industry; so what better place to point twine?

EventPros.com:  Is there a sweet spot for the type of event, or type of event pro, that see the most benefit from leveraging twine within their underlying event platform?

Lawrence: We are seeing about 50/50 usage between external events and internal events currently.  Our current wheelhouse use cases include speed networking, pre event networking, new employee onboarding, DEI conversations, and digital watercooler.

EventPros.com:  Can you share a success story where twine was leveraged within an event? Any surprise results you hadn’t envisioned, but now have interest in exploring further?   

Lawrence: So we are working with a Fortune 500 company that has a big problem.  They are hiring thousands of people this year, but the virtual onboarding process is not living up to the face to face one – mainly because the new employees are not meeting the people they need to know to feel connected, and even to do their jobs.  So this company has been running twines to make sure that their new hires meet people serendipitously, in a structured way.  We are seeing off the charts NPS – I think this use case has a lot of promise.

EventPros.com:  twine has recruited some key folks in recent months and with newly announced funding you are looking to make more hires, including customer success reps which you believe to be a great opportunity for an experienced event pro. What would you like the event pros that read this to know about twine, the team, and the role and what’s the best way for them to get in touch with someone at twine?

Lawrence: As you know, we’ve already hired two folks with deep industry experience; eventprof extraordinaire Anh Nguyen, and more recently, long time MPI leader Evan Casey.  As we look at new hires across the board, we ALWAYS like to start with folks with industry / domain expertise.  Customer Success in particular is a role that makes a lot of sense for an eventprof looking to get more hands-on experience on the tech side.  Who is better qualified to deploy event technology successfully than an eventprof?  

EventPros.com:  You authored this next question yourself recently on twitter :  “How much of an advantage are pandemic native companies going to have over their legacy peers in the post pandemic world?”  Can you elaborate on how you see this playing out?

Lawrence: Oh man, this is a big topic.  The biggest advantage that I see with remote first companies is on the talent side.  If your talent pool for hiring are people that live within 40 miles of your home office, as has traditionally been the case, you are likely constrained in how fast you can move, and the talent level in general.  If your talent pool is the whole world, there are no constraints.  You can move faster, and with the best people.

Hopin is a great example of a company who has been able to manage exponential growth, in part fueled by their low friction hiring.  Could they have hired fast enough if they were remote?  I doubt it.

Of course, remote work has its own challenges – the connective tissue that holds companies together won’t develop organically, as it does in a traditional office setting.  As leaders, you have to work at it.  Employee disengagement is a real thing – it’s a lot easier to quit and move on to another job when you don’t feel connected to your coworkers.

EventPros.com:  What knowledge gained from your experiences as the founder of DoubleDutch are you bringing forward in your work at twine?

Lawrence:  So, so much.  DoubleDutch was an incredible learning experience.  I wrote a huge post mortem of my time there, you can check it out here.  Probably the biggest high level learnings are around focus, and finding your dream customer profile and focusing (only) on them.

The biggest thing that I want to repeat from my DD experience is working with people that I admire and like.  Work is a joy when you work with great people – and we are off to a great start with this at twine!

EventPros.com: We like to mix in a little personal with professional. When you’re not nose-to-the-grindstone growing twine, what fills out your days? 

Well, I’m a dad to a wonderful 10 year old, and she is the center of my family’s world.  My favorite de-stressors are riding a bicycle, playing basketball and tennis, and being out in the commotion of the city.  I try and read scifi when I can to stay inspired about the future.  

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