The first thing Petri Hollmén, founder of Lyyti, makes clear is that he likes to talk about participant – not event – management.
“There are millions of events organised around the world that aren’t considered as events. For example, employee training sessions, educational courses or even swimming schools,” he lists. “But all of these have participants and data related to them that needs to be collected, managed and shared.”
This is the focus of Lyyti and its self-named event management software. It can be used for any type of event to create branded event pages and apps, manage registrations, tickets and feedback and share information both externally and internally.
Most importantly the cloud-based software can be integrated with a company’s existing IT infrastructure. A typical example, Hollmén says, is a company’s internal training calendar. When an employee signs up for an event Lyyti automatically transfers the information to the company’s HR system. No copy-pasting or emailing needed.
“Most companies want this kind of data to smoothly move between their different systems,” Hollmén explains. “This is something no-one else really offers.”
Born from chaos
Hollmén knows how chaotic event organising can be. In 2006, he was organising a small customer event for a travel company he worked for, but only had a few registrations with a week to go.
“I thought let’s try email,” Hollmén recalls. “I collected all our customers details onto a spreadsheet and sent out 4 000 invites. Within a day we got 2 000 replies.”
The event was a success, but replying to thousands of emails and managing all participant details on a spreadsheet was a nightmare. After the dust had settled, Hollmén decided the process had to be automated.
He looked for existing solutions, but found they were either very expensive or limited in their functionalities. So Hollmén started a side project to create one himself. A year later, in 2008, the first version of Lyyti was launched.
Hollmén targeted the service only at small and mid-sized companies, but he was in for surprise. A survey of Finnish meeting organisers of all sizes revealed 95 per cent still relied on emails and spreadsheets for participant management. The demand for Lyyti was proven.
“Our third customer was the Population Register Center of Finland,” Holmen recalls. “They had found our website and called me. I thought it was a prank. But I went to the meeting and in the reception I finally believed it was real.”
All about the EU
Over the years Lyyti has made it onto the list of Finland’s fastest growing tech companies and added big names such as BMW and Samsung to its 700 customers. Now the company’s sights are firmly set on European expansion.
In addition to 34 people in Finland, the company already has a sales office in Sweden and in May launched its first agent-based operation in France.
“The agency sells Lyyti exclusively and the results have been really good,” Hollmén enthuses. “We have come to the conclusion that a local operator with good local networks and market knowledge is our best option. It is our internationalisation strategy going forward.”
Lyyti is also banking on the upcoming EU data protection directive GDPR, which takes force in 2018 and stipulates how data is handled in Europe. The company believes being compliant with the regulation gives it an advantage over American competitors. Furthermore, it’s another way to keep customers happy.
“We want to be a technology firm that puts service at the front and centre,” Hollmén explains. “ A third of our staff work in customer and consulting services. We don’t need to be the biggest, but we want to be the most respected participant data management platform in the world.”