Profile of an Event Business Innovator: Debbie Pinard
Ottawa based software company InitLive was founded in 2013 to provide event planners with a more efficient way to manage staff at events. Event Suppliers Network (ESN) managed to connect with InitLive’s Founder and CEO, Debbie Pinard, who took time from her hectic schedule to give us some insight into the leader of this tech startup, what she does in her downtime and her vision for the future of event technology
1. Debbie, what are your areas of specialty:
My background is in software development, and I also have 45 granted patents, with 8 more pending (including 4 for InitLive). As CEO I am responsible for every aspect of the company at a high level. I still do architectural design and feature requirements as well as business development and marketing. When you are in a startup, you do whatever it takes to get things done.
2. Tell us about your work:
InitLive takes a mobile-first approach to managing the most mobile of event resources – the team on the ground. The cloud-based system includes a web service and a free mobile device app. InitLive equips event planners, event staff and volunteers with a real-time communication system and a comprehensive scheduling service. The tool improves the end-to-end experience for the team, and by extension, event attendees and sponsors. It reduces set up time, keeps event planners organized and increases staff communication, creating an overall safer event space.
3. How did you start in the event industry?
My background is in PBX development, specifically real-timer call control. I had an idea for a communications system utilizing the cloud and mobile devices for people getting together temporarily (which led to events). After talking with a number of event planners, it was obvious that staff and volunteer management was still in the dark ages (excel, email and walkie-talkies). The company I was working for (Wesley Clover) is an incubator for startups, so I convinced them that I had a viable product idea, and InitLive was born.
4. What is the last book you have read or are reading now?
The Cool Box: 7 ice-shattering thrillers from 7 best-selling authors.
5. Coffee or tea?
Tea. Never drink coffee.
6. What is the biggest issue facing the meetings/event industry today?
For me, it is educating people on what technology can actually do for event planners. With cloud and mobile devices, there is a new freedom from the traditional way of managing events. If done right, it does not have to be a scary proposition. I think as more Millenials get involved, this will be much less of an issue, but for today’s event planners, they need to get on board, or they will be left behind.
7. How do you unwind after work or an event?
I watch TV, play with my dog and read books.
8. Favourite venue or destination to attend an event?
Somewhere I haven’t visited before. European cities always have an appeal, but I think it would be cool to visit Asia.
9. What TV shows are a MUST SEE for you?
Game of Thrones, The Good Wife, Madam Secretary, Castle, NCIS, Forever, So You Think You Can Dance, Dragon’s Den and Shark Tank.
10. If you could go back in time what advice would you give your younger self?
I was a competitive gymnast, and now am suffering the consequences by having a really bad back. I wouldn’t say “Don’t do it”, but I would say, “Be more cognizant”.
11. Finish this sentence:
“Nobody knows this about me, but … I am a shy person.”
Thanks for sharing Debbie.
She is also Co-Founder of Brafford Events as well as Editor & Blogger of the Event Suppliers Network and Caribbean Event Suppliers Network.
Alicia currently works closely with clients from the event and hospitality industries assisting them in the areas of marketing and business technology.