My Turn: How technology saved our company from the pandemic

For the Monitor
Published: 11/30/2021 6:00:46 AM
Modified: 11/30/2021 6:00:14 AM

At the beginning of 2020, my company Events United was one of the largest live event production companies in the region, one that had successfully facilitated everything from arena-style concerts to presidential primary events with candidates such as now President Joe Biden and past President Donald J. Trump.

Just a few months later in March, we met physically and virtually in our conference room at Studio Lab with representatives from several other live event production companies and venue owners, literally facing the same grim scenario — the end of all that we had built. All of us were worried about the sudden impact of the COVID pandemic and the effectively closed economy that resulted from it.

For Events United, it represented an existential threat to the business we had meticulously built from the ground up over the past 12 years. Due to the pandemic, we lost approximately 300 live events that we were scheduled to produce in 2020, reflecting 90% of our business for the year. Over the course of a few days, we had cancellation after cancellation, and all those events were gone.

It was clear we had to retool on the fly and quickly transform ourselves into a virtual event production company. We put our faith in our people and in remarkable 21st-century technologies. As a result, today we are stronger than ever, setting a new standard for virtual production in New Hampshire and the Northeast.

With our survival on the line, we threw ourselves into mastering, investing in and implementing extended reality or “XR” technology. Large, curved LED screens now fill our studio along with positional camera trackers and other advanced software and media servers, which create the stunning virtual backgrounds seen at our A Street soundstage.

We are fortunate and grateful to work in a state like New Hampshire that has an advanced technology and innovation ecosystem that could support and grow businesses like ours.

Those advanced technological options that we turned to once the pandemic shut down our live business allowed us to not only thrive but also support others who were similarly facing difficult choices. Many non-profits and charities rely upon live events to fundraise in support of their annual budget. When the pandemic took away their live event options, our successful shift to a virtual environment afforded many non-profits the critical technology platform necessary to continue pursuing their vital missions in an unprecedented environment.

We were proud to work early on with Girls Inc., a wonderful non-profit which provides support and mentorship for girls ages 5-18, while instilling within them the diligence, perseverance and resilience needed for adulthood. Their annual in-person fundraising event typically raises a significant portion of their annual budget.

Working creatively, with the benefit of the technology supporting our migration to a virtual environment, we helped to facilitate an enormously successful virtual event for Girls, Inc., effectively surpassing their typical live event revenue.

The pandemic has been personally and professionally devastating for so many and it continues to exact a heavy toll today. But it has also dramatically hastened our country’s embrace of technology and the various platforms that have allowed companies like Events United to evolve and thrive.

We are at heart a creative and entrepreneurial people and the recent advances in virtual events, networking, cybersecurity, e-commerce and blockchain, among other areas, reflect a brighter and diversified economic future.

Perhaps most encouragingly, many of these advances are occurring because of private initiatives or public/private partnerships, rather than top-down government edicts. As our federal delegation considers pending legislation that may negatively impact American technology platforms and impair essential research and development, I urge skepticism on initiatives to break up, overregulate or proscribe.

Government intervention and higher regulatory obstacles will only inhibit the exciting work that is occurring across New Hampshire in industries such as ours.

(Tim Messina is the founder and owner of Events United and Studio Lab in Derry.)

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