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HATCH Pitch Competition at SXSW: AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT

The Conference Challenge

The most important challenge was to find an innovative, ubiquitous technology for voting during the HATCH competition at SXSW. It needed to be quick, easy to setup and modify, as well as be engaging. The HATCH organizers wanted to engage the audience, making voting more interactive. Another challenge was how to divide the Audience votes from the ones that came in via the Social Media channels. Also, the organizers needed to find a fast and effective way to collect comments, contact information and questions from the audience, consisting of investors, journalists and other people from related industries.

The Solution

After the ProTexting and HATCH teams had a discussion on what technology would fit the needs of the competition, they decided that the most efficient and effective way, with the fastest implementation was text message voting and interaction. Audience members were able to vote from their mobile phones by texting the company name. Immediately following the vote, they received a link via text message reply, asking to fill out a mobile web optimized feedback form, and leave comments about the company they voted for. After the votes were received, the ProTexting system tabulated them in real time and displayed the results on the projection screen at the main stage. This way, the audience saw the results immediately as votes came in. The mobile voting was used to determine the overall winner of the Audience Favorite Award. The challenge of limiting voting only to the audience present in the room still remained. The solution to resolve this challenge was to create and use an additional remote control app for the occasion, which was used to Start/Stop the voting at precise times manually. In addition, each presenting company was given a separate texting channel for Social Media voting ahead of time, so their fans could vote even if they were not present at the conference. This second set of results was used for the Social Media Influence award.

The Results

The mobile engagement during the competition was a success. There was over 85% audience participation. An interesting result was revealed; The Social Media number of participants was almost equal to the number of audience participants at the event number. With Social Media’s potential reach being tens of thousands more people than were actually presents at the conference, our team was expecting more votes to come in via the social channels. It is clear that human interaction in person wins again! A personal note; At the end of the conference, the screen for voting was accidentally cut short and there was an overall sigh of disappointment from the audience who could not get their votes in. This also showed us how engaged they actually were with the mobile voting. Without tens of thousands of dollars spent for creating apps and no need for downloads, ProTexting offered an effective solution for this well-organized SXSW event. HATCH organizers were very pleased with the results. Here is what Brian Lang, one of the competition’s organizers, had to say about ProTexting:

“I was first impressed with ProTexting when I saw their product demonstrated in Austin at the Crowdfunding Texas event. As our annual HATCH pitch event in the Startup Village of SXSW was approaching, I made inquiry on their availability to partner with us for the event. The ProTexting team exceeded our expectations not only in providing an outstanding technology solution, but in adding creativity to our ideas in ways that made our event stand out from the others at SXSW. The ProTexting team worked tirelessly with us the night before and the entire day of the competition and impressed our panel of distinguished judges and pitch finalists. I look forward to working with them again!”

Brian Lang (Event Organizer)

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