Startup Blog

Why I Joined the Board of Attend

Posted by Mike Volpe on 1/26/16 10:00 AM


Today Attend is announcing that I have been elected to their board of directors.  There are a lot of reasons I’m very excited about this new role - in many ways it is the perfect company for me to dive into - so I thought I’d share how I think about the opportunity for the company.

  • Huge market with favorable changes.  Companies spend billions of dollars on events every year - the event marketing industry is just huge. Plus, there are two key changes happening. First, according to Forrester, 40% of companies are shifting their spend from having a booth at a large industry trade show (which usually has a low ROI) to running their own smaller more focused roadshow events (which usually have a higher ROI). The second trend is that events are increasingly being measured and evaluated like the rest of marketing - based on the revenue they produce relative to the marketing and sales cost. Attend is right in the crosshairs of these two important trends (together called “Revenue Event Marketing”) within a huge market. To learn more about these trends check out the Revenue Event Marketing ebook.
  • Existing products suck. I have experience with existing event marketing solutions both myself and through marketing teams I work with. They suck. They are either aimed at consumers (birthday parties!) or are old school enterprise systems that are hard to use, expensive and not built for today’s social, mobile and cloud world (think “Oracle” for events). Event marketing is an area of the marketing technology stack that has been somewhat ignored, yet it is a huge portion of marketing spend, on average it’s a third of B2B marketing budgets according to Demand Metric, with an opportunity for innovation.
  • Amazing people and team.  I’ve gotten to know a number of people on the team at Attend pretty well and I’m impressed.  Assembling a great team at an early stage company is both the hardest and most important thing to do. They don’t all have the pedigree of being former Facebook or Uber or HubSpot (haha) or whatever, but frankly I like that because they have something to prove and get up every day highly motivated. From marketing, to sales, to product, they have a great team of people that I would want to hire myself (which is a big compliment because I am picky about hiring).  The more I learn about startups by operating and investing, the more I learn it is mostly about the people.
  • Wonderful product.  The HubSpot marketing team uses Attend, I’ve seen demos and played with the product myself.  It is a good product, with a strong roadmap of features on the way (more integrations, more advanced reporting, cool mobile features).  Attend’s focus on delighting customers by building an increasingly great product over time will be a key part of their success, and they have the right team and culture in place to deliver. If you run events, you should check it out.
  • Great investors, including an awesome female VC.  Attend’s major investor is .406 Ventures, and their managing partner, Maria Cirino, is on the board of directors.  I’ve written before about my interest in increasing diversity in the technology industry, and I’m happy to be joining a board with one of the very few female VCs.  Maria is one of the co-founders of .406 Ventures and has been founding and building companies for 25 years.  She is the real deal.  I’ve already learned a lot from her and I look forward to spending more time with her.
  • Boston company with pillar potential.  Those who know me understand I am all in on Boston tech and am dedicated to helping build more large companies here.  We are the world’s R&D center, with the highest concentration of research and universities in the world. But Boston needs more huge pillar companies that can make $100M and $1B acquisitions and are the trendsetters in their respective industries.  Since the beginning that is what we were trying to build at HubSpot, which is well on track to become a pillar company.  The event marketing industry is huge and is a key component of the marketing technology stack, which is a hot market growing very fast, and Attend has the potential to grow into a pillar company as well.

As a board member, I’ll be doing all the normal board member things like going to board meetings to eat cookies, voting on things that need voting, and doing some backseat driving. ;)  But a bigger way I can contribute something to Attend is to roll up my sleeves a bit and spend some time working with the team - not the board - on marketing and sales growth.  I’ve been doing that already for a few weeks now and it has been fun. If you want to learn more about what Attend is up to (and help me generate a few more leads!) download the Revenue Event Marketing ebook, and if you are in Boston come see me and the team in person on Feb 4 at the #EventHacker event.

Mike Volpe

Written by Mike Volpe

Mike Volpe is a startup advisor and angel investor based in Boston.

Topics: event, B2B, marketing, startup, Boston, Saas, Sales, Board of Directors

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