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Lalit Mangal from Airmeet: “Remote life and virtual events are now here to stay”

Meet our partner, Airmeet: an all-in-one interactive virtual meeting platform, which just like us at Ruul provides a unique and effective solution for both solo talents and remotely operating businesses. We had previously featured Airmeet’s Director of Marketing, Nishchal Dua for an interview and discussed how virtual meetings can be made more productive. This time, we welcome Lalit Mangal, CEO and co-founder (along with Manoj Singh and Vinay Kumar Jasti) at Airmeet to explore the concepts of remote work, virtuality and hybridity.

Could you briefly describe key features of Airmeet and tell us what sparked the idea for it back in 2019?

In 2016, I had just wrapped up my previous company “Common Floor”, a real estate portal. I was exploring other ventures at this point, and at this time I attended an Expo that was happening in Bangalore. It was a three-day event, happening at a very large venue. Close to 500 startups from all over India and Southeast Asia were present and, each of these startups were given one small desk and the founders were supposed to stand there on all days and do the same pitch to everybody visiting.

For me, attending the event itself was an effort, driving there, and then even after spending over 5 hours a day at the venue, I only got to meet a handful of startups. On interacting with the few that I did meet, one thing was very evident, people were drained out of all of their energy.

That moment was somewhere, the genesis of the idea for me. But I did not act on it, then. After my break, my Co-founders, Manoj, Vinay and I started exploring ideas and this time we very deliberately wanted to build a remote company. The three of us lived in three different cities and we thought, why not just start with building a remote company. This research led us to the problem of remote meetups and events, and in November 2019 we did our first meetup of sorts. As we did some more very basic exploration, we eventually did start seeing some validation, especially in the community manager segment.

And that’s how it began. Then the pandemic hit, throwing a spotlight on products like ours, and giving such concepts fast validation and widespread adoption. Remote life and virtual events are now here to stay, they are the future, and this is our story.

Do teams at Airmeet work fully remotely? What makes Airmeet professionals feel the need for a physical meeting?

Yes, Airmeet is a 100% remote company. Despite being remote, we are seeing teams that are close-knit and depend on each other for motivation, and direction and rely on each other both in their personal and professional lives. Being remote makes them more aware, sensitive, and empathetic to each other’s lives and schedules beyond work.

Meeting physically comes from the need to get to know each other better, to put a physical form to the people you’ve been interacting with daily, and as such the biggest reason is to boost camaraderie, connection and a feeling of belonging.

Should fundamental structures of events change with virtuality? Can events be virtualized in the same format or should they be organized differently?

With in-person events beginning to resume, we are seeing a demand for exact virtual replicas of in-person events. For example, our event-led engagement platform is set up in a ball-room style format with a center stage, as well as meeting rooms and lounge-style fluid spaces to allow for networking, serendipitous connections, breakout sessions, keynote events, and speed networking to take place online as if it would in person.

This also “sets the stage” for future hybrid-style events and other forward-thinking moments as the Airmeet platform creates a more interactive environment versus traditional video conferencing. There are of course some elements that have to change because of the virtual format but most of what can be done in person can be done virtually with our enhanced immersive AI technology.

How can interactions at remote events be served by the advantages of serendipity? Can attendees of virtual events meet coincidentally and exchange ideas casually?

In short, yes. We’ve seen marketers, community managers, sales executives, and customer relationship teams leverage Airmeet’s suite of attendee engagement features to dive deep into audience needs and dynamically upgrade their customer engagement strategy. They do this with highly interactive touch points resulting in more effective lead generation, networking, and collaboration. Allowing customers to fully immerse themselves and use AI technology to amplify an experience is the best way to see success and in turn ROI.

There are multi opportunities for serendipitous networking just like there would be in person. Whether it’s through the live session chat – where one could converse publicly or take a conversation private, through table chats where one could create or join a table of interest, or through attendee/speaker profiles where one could connect with a person based on their profile card. Airmeet’s latest ‘fluid space’ offering allows attendees to wander, listen and join in on conversations that pique their interest. Also, our AI based speed networking – I could go on… the options to network organically, online are endless!

Before the pandemic, it was the norm in many industries to travel long distances for trade shows / Expos. Those events would consume hours and a lot of resources, as well as causing a great deal of exhaustion. Virtual gatherings rule out many negative aspects related to their archaic nature.

But, there is another aspect to international events. Something much more sentimental. People love to travel, try out different cuisines and bring back souvenirs from their business trips. How can remote events bridge the gap here? What can make them also emotionally and culturally appealing?

This is where the interactive elements come into play. Having the opportunity to use our interactive AI technology allows people to feel as if they are indeed in those locations. Organizers can provide video and in-person experiences that help immerse users more than ever before. Of course nothing will replace a real, in person experience but you can get pretty close.

We’ve seen event organizers send themed lunches, DIY cocktail or meal packages, virtual and physical swag as well as host online cultural programs, dances, stand-up comedy, music, cooking demonstrations, game nights, dance events and more! And by doing an international event virtually you ensure that those who can’t make the time to travel or be there in person don’t miss out!

Do you think that speakers in the remote reality need new communicational skills to succeed at virtual events? If so, why?

A huge part of making an event successful are great speakers. It’s crucial to include speakers that can connect with the tone of the event and align with the message being shared. Aside from engaging speakers, performers are also a great way to entice participants and keep them hooked. Having a special appearance will encourage everyone to stay engaged and talk about what they saw or learned. Speakers don’t have to have any new skills to succeed. (Also, most speakers and individuals naturally honed these skills during the pandemic).

Engagement in a virtual event is the key to success. They may need to pivot and find new ways to keep the audience interacting to also make it memorable. Learning how to pivot in real-time is the key to success for any speaker or performer and Airmeet makes it easy to do just that.

What kind of changes do you expect in the industry when the Covid-19 restrictions are completely over? Will companies persist at remoteness or hybridity?

The growth of remote collaboration in our newly decentralized world is fuelling the demand for more immersive, engaging and interactive experiences – especially in business. An increase in virtual experiences over the past two years has led companies to explore new virtual channels through which they can improve business applications that increase engagement, create more meaningful interactions, seamlessly share feedback and build lasting relationships. Despite a lift of Covid-19 restrictions remote work and engagement is here to stay.

The pandemic rewrote rules on remote work with the adoption of virtual trends that are here to stay, even among legacy enterprises. Next-generation event platforms designed for event-led engagement are slated to enhance the virtual user experience and empower businesses and communities to move activities online with confidence. Platforms like Airmeet are working to shift virtual conferencing solutions to a 360 engagement suite in order to maximize the opportunity between virtual, IRL and hybrid events.

We predict post-Covid remote and hybrid work environments will make immersive engagement solutions like the Metaverse even more relevant to how companies interact with their customers and employees. Metaverse events may become more commonplace around previously virtual events, like conferences, company all-hands, stakeholder meetings, networking events or event corporate retreats. Airmeet is currently building an all-year-round engagement suite that will extend into virtual reality and Metaverse to deliver a highly immersive experience.

Our professional connections and social relationships are now being transferred to the digital environment. What would you recommend to professionals who would like to publicize their business digitally? Which features of Airmeet can solo talents utilize for self-promotion?

We have a SaaS business model with 2 product offerings:

  1. Social Webinars for businesses, marketers & community builders to host highly engaging, immersive webinars that help them engage their users & accelerate their pipeline further.
  2. Conferences for event organizers, agencies & associations to host large-scale, parallel track conferences or summits complete with extensive options for sponsor branding, booths, speed networking and detailed analytics.

Which benefits can Ruul businesses unlock by choosing Airmeet as their event platform? What are some features favored by businesses? Can you name a few use cases for hosting corporate business and social events?

AI technologies are also becoming a critical piece of the virtual marketing puzzle. For example, we’re currently deploying AI-driven smart speed networking technology to create faster, likeminded attendee connections and tripling the rate of organic conversation.

Other assets such as DIY customization, replicating real-life events, video on demand, and extensive in-depth analytics are features that continue to exponentially enhance our customer experience. In terms of use-cases, well there are many, right from internal townhalls, internal employee cafes, to webinars, sales demos, masterclasses, conferences, galas…

***

We thank Lalit Mangal, CEO at Airmeet for joining us for a conversation on Ruul Blog. Ruul is determined to introduce best practices, tools and platforms that make remoteness the reality. Through our partners like Airmeet, Ruulers are able to create a sustainable mode of work suited to their needs and benefit from special discounts on various digital platforms. Keep your eyes open for our new pieces and weekly digests to stay up-to-date about the best methods for working remotely!

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Deniz Öksüz Fer
Deniz is the Head of Communications & Brand Strategy at Ruul She's been serving as a solo linguist, writer and editor since 2011. In 2020, she teamed up with Rimuut to tell their inspiring story.

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