For this week’s Humans of Garage Society, we’re featuring one of our busiest Garagers. When he’s not working in our space, you’ll probably find him at the coolest & most popular events around the city. Art Basel, Rugby 7s, amfAR – been there, done that. Boris Barreck is the APAC Representative of zkipster, a cloud platform that’s become a must-have for tech-savvy event planners, from the one who planned hospitality at the Sevens to the one screaming at the paps on the Academy Awards red carpet. But why take our word for it when you can hear it from the man himself? Read on as Boris answers everything we want to know about zkipster, its expansion into Hong Kong, and his personal passions!
Can you share with us a bit about how the zkipster platform works?
zkipster is a software-as-a-service platform for professional event planners. The application powers invite-only events and has a clear focus on social and corporate events, launches, galas and campaigns. We power thousands of event planners in 100+ countries and checked-in 2.8 million guests alone in 2015. Core of our technology is a fast and reliable guest list app, which allows users an efficient check-in process combined with name badge printing, seating chart allocation and social media tracking.
What are some insights that zkipster clients are able to gain through using the platform versus the traditional sign-in process?
The traditional sign in process is broken. If the guest data does not get synchronized in real-time, I would consider it a potential security breach. zkipster makes events safer. Further, every check-in gets time stamped, so our clients can run post-event reports.
Who came at what time? Who was added last minute? Who brought along whom?
The more data we are able track on behalf of our clients, the better we can help them improve their future events. It's pretty exciting.
When did you join zkipster, and what initially led you to onboard as the company’s APAC representative?
I joined in 2014 by building out zkipster's Hong Kong sales representation. It is zkipster's focus on detail in terms of design and quality, as well as the ability to work with top event planners of the industry, that inspires me everyday.
How much planning & preparation goes into a large event like Art Basel?
zkipster powers up to 100 events per day and we don't make a difference between an Art Basel event and a small fundraiser in a hospital. There is a zero error margin when it comes to event technology. The stakes are high and the system has to be bullet proof. zkipster's roots are in Switzerland and the way we work is very Swiss-German: we value accuracy, trust and simple design.
Do you find that event planning in Hong Kong differs from other cities with regards to people’s enthusiasm for incorporating tech into the process? Event planners across the world face the same issues when it comes to entry management and therefore have very similar (tech) requirements. However, we observed that simple and fast turn key solutions, combined with trust and a “face behind the app”, seem crucial to local event planners when incorporating new technology.
What are some challenges you’ve faced in terms of localisation?
We supported Chinese characters during guest list imports and within the application right from the beginning and offered our prices in HKD as well, which helped to localize the service. A major local challenge for us remains the common use of clipboards, pens and paper at guest check-in.
What type of feedback do you receive from clients who are first-time zkipster users?
We received plenty of raving feedback since we started six years ago. At first, users were hesitant, and concerned that the app would let them down. But when event planners see how easy it is for their personnel to adapt to the interface, how fast people get into the door, and how much more welcoming the arrival becomes - they fall in love with the product.
What do you see for zkipster’s future in the region?
zkipster is a global product. It is strategically important for us to serve the Asian market out of Hong Kong: a lot of luxury brands are here, not to mention professional services. We receive referrals from our teams in New York and London who are excited that such a small team is able to cover three continents and almost all time zones. The Asian future of zkipster is bright, as there are still plenty of event planners using pen and paper.
Why did you choose a co-working environment for zkipster and what do you love most about it?
Next to Garage Society's awesome locations, which lets me easily drop by in-between meetings I personally love the atmosphere at the open co-working spaces. I cannot imagine sitting in a tiny 2 to 3-person office without any (inter)-action. Co-working spaces definitely give you the benefit of working among like-minded individuals while your own team size is not quite there yet.
Can you share with us some of your personal passions or aspirations, professional or otherwise?
When looking back, I think I have been quite passionate about creating something new and growing up businesses from a relatively early stage. Being able to continue this here in Hong Kong, one of my favourite cities, has been super-motivating to me.