MALMÖ, Sweden – If you’ve built a mobile app for an event or conference, the time you’re most likely to want to update it is right before your event begins. But that’s also the time you can’t afford delays and mistakes.
I’ve run into the problem at events before: The official mobile app for the conference was updated at the last-minute — only to be completely unusable for the whole event.
This is a problem that frustratingly spelled startup Qnekt (pronounced
connect cue-nect) hopes to solve with its event program service. The company debuted a full version of its iOS app this week at the Media Evolution conference in Sweden.
“Submitting an iOS app update to Apple to fix a crucial bug doesn’t always happen fast,” Qnekt CEO and cofounder Finnur Sverrisson told VentureBeat in an interview. “With event apps, especially, we don’t mess with app updates because it’s really unreliable.”
The app itself hosts official event programming guides for multiple conferences or events. Attendees receive an activation code, which ensures that only those who are at the show can use it. From there, you’ve got a pretty basic but very quick user interface that gives you access to all the typical categories you’d expect to find on an event app, including a schedule, map of the venue and surrounding area, and a list of speakers. It’s also got some pretty useful social features, such as a list of everyone who’s entered a code for the event. You can also message other attendees directly through the app, see notifications from the event’s organizers, take notes, and set up polls within individual sessions.
Sverrisson said the goal was to get event organizers to make updates to the mobile app without going through Apple or Google Play. That means you’re far less likely to run into a situation where the event app is completely useless when it’s needed the most.
Qnekt plans to make money by charging clients for the number of people who download and use the app, but it doesn’t have an entry-level or flat fee attached. This could make it more attractive to smaller shows that cover a lot of different speakers or activities.
There are, however, some obvious trade-offs. You can’t produce a fully white-label version of an event’s official mobile app, which means it may be difficult for attendees to find on their own if they’ve never used Qnekt. Sverrisson said the startup does allow its clients to do some white-label branding, though, such as adding customized interface skins or logos or icons.
I used Qnekt the whole weekend and found it to be one of the better event app experiences, and I’ve used quite a few. Of course, the startup is facing competition from other scheduling services like Sched, which offer cross-platform integration for the web, iOS, and Android devices.
Founded back in March, the Malmo, Sweden-based startup has seven full-time employees and about 25 event clients signed up. Qnekt has raised $154,000 in seed funding to date. The startup’s app is available for free on both Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store.
This story is part of our coverage of the Media Evolution conference in Malmö, Sweden this week. Disclosure: Media Evolution paid for my airfare and hotel. My coverage remains objective.