Tradeshow Speed Dating


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Tradeshow Speed Dating! Read about BIO's One-on-One Partnering program and how it has been beneficial for Althea.

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Tradeshow Speed Dating

  1. 1. TradeshowSpeedDating | ||| ||| | || || ||| | ||Speed dating for companies on your tradeshow floor?It’s not as strange as it sounds. When your exhibitorsand attendees make productive business connectionsat your event, you keep them coming back. Here’s howone association used high-tech tools to make thoseconnections happen.By Jacqui Cook Associations Now April|May 2012 39
  2. 2. If you’ve ever walked justify your presence at the meeting. convention, the system enabled more the floor at a tradeshow, You’re not just showing up and hoping than 21,000 individual meetings over there’s a good chance you’ve been it works out. You can see a snapshot of four days; in 2009, 14,000 meetings involved in an exchange like this one: the biotech industry in the world for occurred, Colangelo says. You to exhibitor: “This looks inter- the cost of a hotel [room] and a con- The electronic system has been esting, do you –” vention pass. “ in place in some form since the early Attendee passing by: “Excuse me, 2000s, but BIO took it over from an where is the beverage station?” From Index Cards to Online outside vendor in 2005 and brought You to exhibitor: “As I was saying, BIO is the world’s largest biotechnol- it entirely in house. The organization can you tell me more about –” ogy organization, with more than worked with its association man- Another passerby: “Do you know 1,100 members worldwide involved agement software provider, TMA where the bathroom is?” in the research and development of Resources, to integrate One-on-One You to exhibitor: “Never mind, I’ll healthcare, agricultural, industrial, and Partnering into its Personify database. come back.” environmental products. Its corporate Members interact with the program Unfortunately for both you and the || exhibitor, chances are you won’t make | your way back, and a business oppor- tunity will be missed. Next year, | both of you may decide you didn’t get enough out of the event to justify coming back. And that, of course, is |||| bad news for the host- ing organization, which wants to see members “This has been a game changer and exhibitors making productive connec- tions on its tradeshow for us.”—Joseph Colangelo, floor. When the exhibit hall is dominated by | misses rather than hits, member and exhibitor ||| | Biotechnology Industry Organization | satisfaction—not to men- tion an important revenue stream—is at risk. The Biotechnology Industry Organization set out to eliminate this problem with a novel approach || that’s part and part speed dating for companies. BIO’s One- on-One Partnering program allows attendees and exhibitors at the orga- members range from small entrepre- through a website, but the system nization’s meetings to create detailed neurial companies to Fortune 500 operates through its integration with profiles and then seek meetings where multinationals, and it also represents the AMS, says Chris Love, BIO’s manag- they see an opportunity to do busi- state and regional biotech associations, ing director of web and information ness. BIO provides the space and keeps service providers to the industry, and technologies. the schedule, limiting each meeting academic centers. Love says the current version of to 25 minutes before a bell rings and BIO holds several meetings around One-on-One Partnering is rooted in a the parties move on to their next the world each year. It currently uses the 1990s system that used index cards appointment. One-on-One Partnering program at 10 to try to match like-minded attendees “This has been a game changer for conferences and at the BIO International and exhibitors. Although far more us,” says Joseph Colangelo, MBA, BIO’s Convention, which draws about 1,800 advanced, today’s system is updated director of business development. exhibitors and 15,500 attendees from frequently to reflect changing needs “You and the exhibitor are both able to more than 65 countries. At last year’s and technologies.40 Associations Now April|May 2012
  3. 3. “We do a survey [of users] every year, be at the same event, it’s a good time for get to the next meeting if it was at theand a lot of the ideas the staff has for them to catch up.” opposite end of the meeting space. Soimprovements are reinforced in those BIO had been setting aside space this year, for the first time, One-on-Onesurveys,” Love says. about the size of a football field to hold Partnering meetings also can be sched- the meetings, but that became a chal- uled to take place on the exhibit floor.How It Works lenge as interest in the program grew “As tradeshow producers, it is pivotalThe One-on-One Partnering system and the number of meetings increased to evolve with the industry, and for us itis open to anyone registered for a BIO substantially. With only five minutes means offering the Partnering opportu-meeting that offers it. About 12 weeks between meetings, it became difficult to nity to better serve our exhibitors,” saysbefore the meeting, participants go intothe system website to build a companyprofile, then search the other profiles forcompanies that may be potential busi-ness partners. A meeting request is sent,and if the other company agrees, thetwo parties are given a time and place toget together in a designated area at theconference. The meetings last 25 min-utes—with five minutes to move to thenext meeting—and after that the twoparties decide on their own whether topursue more discussions. At the conven-tion, attendees pay fees ranging from$250 to $800 to participate, depending onmembership status; the program is freeat other meetings. A typical scenario would go some-thing like this: Company A has a newcancer drug in the pipeline, but it doesnot have enough money to fund develop-ment over several years from concept toFDA approval. Company B is a pharma-ceutical giant that would like to find anew cancer drug to invest in and bring tomarket within a few years. Company B’steam registers for the BIO InternationalConvention, then starts looking atprofiles in the database for companiesdeveloping new cancer drugs. They findCompany A’s profile, are intrigued aboutwhat it’s developing, and send a meetingrequest. Company A is happy to discussits product, so the two commit to a meet-ing at the convention. How (or whether)business develops from there is entirelyup to them. “We provide the mechanics, not thestrategy,” Colangelo says. “From the out-side it looks like speed dating, but what’sactually going on is people are doingthose important first-time meetings, orthey’ve met before and it’s an additionalnetworking meeting, or they’re partnersnow but because they both know they’ll Associations Now April|May 2012 41
  4. 4. ||| | “If there’s a client we really |||| want to meet, we don’t have to worry they won’t be available when we are.”—Cassidy Brady, Pfenex, Inc. | ||| || || Eric Misic, CEM, senior sales executive at John Hicks, director of corporate devel- BIO. “We are now delivering double the opment for Althea Technologies, Inc., visibility and leads with our new exhibi- says One-on-One Partnering is a valuable tor Partnering opportunity.” business tool for his firm and has led to That’s good news for the team at several deals. Althea, based in San Diego, Pfenex, Inc., a San Diego-based biotech- is a biotechnology contract development nology company. Cassidy Brady, senior and manufacturing organization. The manager of marketing and business company attends 12 to 15 shows per development, jokes that each member of year and prefers the Partnering model the Pfenex group “lost five pounds run- to the traditional stroll through the BIO ning from meeting to meeting.” exhibition. She says One-on-One Partnering is “Last year at BIO, I had about 40 meet- of significant value to Pfenex because it ings over three days, and a number of allows its staff who attend to make the those have turned into well-qualified best use of their time at a large show. prospects,” Hicks says. “In some cases, Last year, a team of six people held 90 there are deals in the works.” meetings over three days, Brady says. He says the key to making it work Using this system, “we can better is having an effective “elevator pitch” manage both our time and our resourc- ready, so business talks can begin as soon es,” she says. “You have a limited amount as both parties sit down. It also helps to of both, and Partnering takes away the do as much homework as possible before level of spontaneity. If there’s a client we the meeting so the time can be spent really want to meet, we don’t have to identifying areas where both parties can worry they won’t be available when we work together. are. It’s really a seamless integration.” “It can be pretty hectic because there The other benefit, she says, is that is only 30 minutes,” Hicks says. “You the initial contact establishes a founda- have to have your introduction and your tion before the first meeting so it doesn’t pitch down because the bell rings and feel like a “cold call,” and they can get you go right to the next one, and usually right down to business in the 25-minute someone else is waiting to get into that meeting. space. But it works because you get a 42 Associations Now April|May 2012
  5. 5. chance to get the point across, and then current business ventures. But does this popularity of One-on-One Partnering—if you need to follow up you can arrange kind of system have uses for other types especially its growth during reces-to meet at another time at the show or in of associations? sionary times—indicates that boththe future.” That depends, says George Breeden, exhibitors and attendees value the in- Like Pfenex’s Brady, Hicks believes the CAE, senior director of product market- person experience. While an attendeechief strength of the program is the abil- ing for TMA Resources. He says a part- might research a destination or a prod-ity to make the most of the limited time nering program might not be right for uct online, many want to discuss anat the convention. association meetings that are primarily actual business deal in person. “Other tradeshows are more passive,” focused on providing education or pro- “The idea that we don’t want to meethe says. “Here, I can have a very targeted moting membership. But it could be a anymore is a fallacy,” Breeden says.discussion with people who I know great benefit for those that have exhibi- “People aren’t just interested in retriev-are looking for my capabilities. I can go tors with something to sell to associa- ing information; that’s a first step. Theythrough a list and put out a targeted tion professionals, such as an annual want the face to face, to help under-invitation to somebody and say, ‘I have a meeting destination. stand the character of the people theysolution for this area you’re looking for’ “Anytime you have people you’re will be partnering with, and that isor ‘I have a drug program that might fit trying to connect to create a business never going to go away.” anwith your strategy.’” relationship, this type of partnering situation would have value,” Breeden Jacqui Cook is a freelance writer in theWould It Work for You? says. “If it’s worth putting the show Chicago area. Email: jacquicook@The One-on-One Partnering system together to get people to interact and comcast.networks well for BIO because exhibitors meet, then it might be worth it to doand attendees are at its events seeking something like this.”either new business or investors in their What Breeden is certain of is that the Associations Now April|May 2012 43