Most entrepreneurs know that attending expos and fairs is all part of doing business, but how about being able to network, exchange cards, collect brochures and view new products without leaving your desk?
Fresh from California incubator RocketSpace, 3D virtual events specialists Hyperfair are putting their money on making a success of online careers fairs, exhibitions and conferences and have just secured $1.1 million in seed funding to help them develop their proposition.
Who knows – those looking for technology or social media jobs may also find their next post at a virtual expo.
So What’s New?
We all know that developers have tried and, on occasion, failed to create effective virtual business events – with clunky graphics, static spaces and an inability to tap into the imagination of delegates and get them through the ‘door’, the market for these products has been somewhat unpredictable.
However Hyperfair aims to raise the bar by offering a service that stands head and shoulders above the rest.
COO Andrea Ballarini claims that while competitors seem to offer a static experience, Hyperfair provides much more interactivity. The tech allows users to move their avatars around a 3D space and the interface is easy to use and centered around the key tasks of chatting with other delegates using either skype, messaging or voice, browsing products and exchanging business cards.
Exhibitors take up a virtual booths which can be branded and customized and they can even upload product images to create a three dimensional model.
How Does it Measure Up?
Those who have sampled the Hyperfair are impressed with its navigation and levels of interactivity and it appears they were also able to explore the virtual conference hall without feeling too conspicuous. Some detractors have suggested that a service such as the one offered by Hyperfair will never replace a real ‘flesh and bones’ event. However, those that feel that way are missing the point according to Ballarini.
“We’re definitely not trying to replace any physical event. We’re trying to expand the physical event.”
The Hyperfair team feel that their cloud-based service could be used as a pre-show warm up event where delegates can touch base before meeting in person, or Hyperfair could be used to keep delegates connected between events.
It stands to reason that there are certain companies that would jump at the prospect of being able to advertise to a captive audience of businesspeople, plus exhibiters would also be expected to pay for their space, but where Hyperfair really stands to make money is by offering the service as a bolt-on to a real event – as the aforementioned pre-event warm up or post-event wind down. For forward-thinking event organisers who feel Hyperfair can add to their experience a mark-up can be added to the exhibitor fee, which at an estimated 20–30% per booth could add up to some serious profit.
This is a fairly reserved industry and one that may prove resistant to change, but in terms of adding value by extending the experience for delegates, and potentially saving money by negating the need for physical items such as brochures, speakers and perhaps even venues, the temptation may prove too great to resist. It will just take the delegates getting over their inhibitions and letting their avatars do the talking to get a business like Hyperfair off the ground.