#Eventprof of the Month

Taylor McKnight - Founder & CEO at Emamo

Our July #Eventprof of the Month is Taylor McKnight! He’s an overall fun guy, with some pretty serious accolades under his belt. For starters, he’s the founder and CEO at Emamo, a virtual event platform that helps organizers grow their events. 

He’s been in the event industry for over a decade now, building event platforms to help run thousands of events, including fan conventions like San Diego Comic-Con, wellness events like Wanderlust, and tech events like Techstars and Startup Week. His companies and projects have been featured in places like The New York Times, WSJ, Wired, CNN, Forbes, Ad Age, and even an Apple advertising campaign many moons ago. *we’re impressed*

Before the pandemic, he lived on the road for eight years, growing a successful company and running an all-remote team across six different time zones. Instead of renting out office space, he prefers to spend money taking his team to Bali, Tokyo, Berlin, Marrakesh, Mykonos, and Siem Reap. Pretty cool, right? 

We couldn’t wait to get his perspective on the virtual event space, uncovering what’s needed to manage remote teams, where the industry is headed, and a few tips on getting the right press. 

So, without further ado, here’s our July #Eventprof interview with the one-and-only Taylor McKnight!

 

5 thoughtful questions with our July feature, Taylor McKnight

 

DC Startup Week on Emamo's event platform

DC Startup Week on Emamo’s event platform. 

 

1. Why did you decide to start Emamo?

Events can change the world. We’re seeing an explosion of event creators similar to what the podcast industry went through.

But the side-effect to all of these events? It’s harder than ever to break through the noise and tell your story. Why should folks attend your event?

We’re building Emamo as an event platform that helps event planners reach new audiences. We’ve started with some simple tools to build your event site and launch promotional campaigns on social media.

 

2. What are your thoughts on the future of events coming out of the pandemic?

The future here is quite exciting! 

During the pandemic, the whole world pivoted to virtual events, and a wealth of new ways and experiments erupted around bringing people together.

Building an ongoing community around an event has been a continuous challenge for many event creators. But, we’re now seeing some platforms make this process so much easier. Augmenting large in-person events with ongoing virtual gatherings will help build deeper relationships. And, reusing event content is a critical part too. 

It was a bizarre way to fast-forward the industry, but I think the impact will be huge.

 

Taylor attending Web Summit in 2019.

Taylor attending Web Summit in 2019.

And then attending Web Summit in 2020.

And then attending Web Summit in 2020.

 

3. You’ve lived on the road since 2012! How the heck have you made that work, and what advice do you have on leading remote teams?

Eight years on the road was incredible. I call it “slow travel” because my wife and I would usually rent an Airbnb for 1-2 months in a place. This gave us room to develop routines and still get work done while exploring new cultures.

Since covid has stopped carefree travel for a while, we’re excited about spending the next year in Savannah, GA.

My biggest ‘hack’ for better remote teams is to simply bring them together once in a while.

We’d book a giant house in Morocco or Mexico City and spend a week exploring and brainstorming together. When possible, it works so well when everybody is in a shared house instead of hotel rooms. The late-night and early morning conversations are when folks open up and connect on a deeper level.

 

4. You’ve spoken at many conferences and festivals; what advice do you have for event professionals wanting to get into speaking or get press?

Speaking at events or receiving press is the side effect of doing something interesting.

If you lack opportunities, make up your own project and do the work. If the project doesn’t have visible artifacts (like, “Hey, I run this event”), then write about it or make a video.

What is an interesting story or lesson that you want to share? Event organizers and press crave good stories. I run the podcast for Emamo, so even I am on the hunt!

 

Taylor speaking at a virtual event using Spatial Chat.

Taylor speaking at a virtual event using Spatial Chat.

 

5. In your experience, why would you encourage a newcomer to invest in event professionals or tools to help create their event?

There really are more options than ever out there! Should we go virtual or in-person? What does a hybrid event actually look like? What’s the best event platform?

An experienced event pro will help you explore the strategies and know the right tools to help you accomplish your goals. That could mean optimizing for 1:1 meetings or focus on interactive audience tools.

At the beginning of the pandemic, there was a lot of stress around how to pivot and which tools to use, so I started a directory of virtual event experts on our site. It’s been great to share this with companies and clients that come to us looking for guidance.


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