Al Wynant – Co-founder and CEO of Eventinterface

Ask for help sooner. Also starting a venture, building software and raising money all at the same time is very challenging to accomplish. If I were to do it again I would focus on building the company first and then starting the fundraising process.

Al Wynant is the co-founder and CEO of Eventinterface, a technology solution that lets meeting and event planners manage events better; enables them to enhance their revenue stream and allows them create a community around their events. Al has 26 years of international meeting and event management experience and has managed events from 50 to 125,000 on two continents. He studied in Europe and traveled with the international educational program Up with People. He has worked as a Marketing and Public Relations Representative working concert tours in the United States, Switzerland, Canada, Germany, Belgium and the United Kingdom. He has worked for the Belgian Senate, United Way and founded event management firm A6 Events where he and his team were responsible for the management of a large variety of conferences and events throughout the United States. Al has served on numerous non-profit boards and is a frequent speaker on the topic of meeting and event management, and event technology. Al is also an Appointed Representative for his region for Flanders in the World.

Where did the idea for Eventinterface come from?

Eventinterface was born out of a need discovered in our previous company A6 Events. We planned many events and conferences all over the United States and went looking for solutions to help us plan, manage and engage attendees better. We found many solutions, all providing a small part of the overall planning and management experience. None of these solutions talked to each other, and implementing them was expensive and cumbersome. Luckily my co-founder at A6 was, and still is, an amazing developer and we set out to create our own solution for internal use. Within a few weeks of launch we received a call from a well-known gaming company who wanted to use the software for one of their events. This made a light bulb go off in our head, seeing the possibility of the solution. We made the decision to close the planning business right then and there and focus on the development of Eventinterface.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

The day always starts with a healthy breakfast and a decent cup of coffee. I’ll review world news and email. The rest of the day I try to block in chunks of focused work at my desk, outside meetings and team meetings.

I also work after dinner from my home office, focusing that time on research, catching up on social media and email, and getting ready for the next day. My workday usually ends between 10:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. I relax a bit by reading or watching a recorded program. I do try to get in a daily walk before of after dinner, and if too warm I’ll do it on the treadmill.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Bringing ideas to live is really a collaborative endeavor. I bring many years of planning experience to the table and my co-founder is the technical brain. We continuously listen to our clients, explore trends and are out in the community experiencing the world. New ideas, products or service enhancements grow organically out of these experiences.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

I am really excited about the opportunity that technology affords us to bring people together at events, and continue that engagement in meaningful ways after to keep participants connected around a brand, cause or topic. The trend to look at conferences and events as much more than a blip on your calendar, but as a growing community starting at the event, continuously evolving afterwards is super exciting to me.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

It is key for me to make task lists based on goals, and focus on these tasks and goals; it helps my brain from going the millions of directions it normally goes.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

I had a blue-collar job one summer in college where I had to secure aluminum plates to a crane that would then dip these plates into a liquid to color them. I had taken the job because it paid relatively well and I was saving to participate in a study abroad program. I didn’t like the job because it was hot, dirty and I didn’t understand the culture or lifestyle of the people I worked with. In the three or so months I was there I grew to admire the people, respect their work ethics and started understanding that it took a varied team of talents to get to the end product. I also learned how to communicate with a wide variety of people.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

Ask for help sooner. Also starting a venture, building software and raising money all at the same time is very challenging to accomplish. If I were to do it again I would focus on building the company first and then starting the fundraising process.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

I try to start every day with a positive attitude –at least after that first cup of pre-shower coffee. Lists, tasks, goals are insanely important to me. Learning to meditate, but have much to studying to do. Also, I surround myself with people who can help me grow on a personal and professional level.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

Surround myself with people who are smarter than me, challenge me and are honest in their communication with me. I have also become a member of a peer group of C-level executives, and I would say that setting goals and being held accountable for these goals by your team is key.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

At the start of the venture believing that every consultant is capable of helping you along, while in reality many consultants have no entrepreneurial experience and are in survival mode themselves. Understanding what you need assistance with is half the battle, and asking your advisors for guidance the rest, all without having to rely on hired consultants.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I LOVE the scent of fresh baked bread. The scent when you walk by a bakery in the morning, especially in Europe is intoxicating. Same counts for the scent of orange blossoms in my neighborhood. I would love there to be a home scent product that could recreate these scents accurately and not just “the impression of” to be used in my surroundings.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

Something silly really, a pig made from recycled metal. It sits on my desk and it carries my headset on its back. It’s funny and makes me smile.

What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?

For work I live on Gotomeeting, Skype, Adobe Suite, and anything Apple. Also use Evernote and Greenrope.

For entertainment I’ve cut the cord many years ago and use Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu, and Plex tied to my home server to consume all forms of entertainment. Hue controls all my lights in the house

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I was just given “The Hands-Off Manager, how to mentor people and allow them to be successful” by Steve Chandler and Duane Black. Great information with actions steps to hand off success.

What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?

My mom and dad who put up with me, showed me that unconditional love does exist and that when you work hard for your goals you’ll get there.

Two of my teachers who encouraged individuality, challenged me and always expected more. Ms. Ponnet and Ms. Vandermeiren.

On the entrepreneur side, individuals who change the status quo intrigue me most. I admire Sir Richard Branson’s tenacity and joie de vivre. Steve Jobs for making existing technology better, Bill Gates for applying his resources to better the world, Elon Musk for changing the face of transportation, and any young entrepreneur I cross paths with in my community for showing the world that just an idea isn’t good enough. You have to work insanely hard to be successful.


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Event Interface on Twitter: @Eventinterface