Event App Provider Gather Digital Celebrates 8th Anniversary
11/06/2017 - Gather DigitalPicking up the phone at 2 a.m. was a difficult habit for Jon and Wendy Phillips to break. Responding to a customer’s needs—or, more commonly, a customer’s inspired input—is very much in keeping with how they do business. And, given that their customer base was spreading across the globe, their phone was liable to ring at any hour.
Fortunately, things have changed. A venture that began out of their home is now a global company, with experienced account executives on three continents.
Gather Digital, a provider of best-of-breed mobile event apps for corporations, associations and educational institutions, is celebrating an anniversary. On May 29, 2009, Jon and Wendy filed articles of organization for the business that would soon be christened Gather Digital.
The idea had come to the husband-wife team a few months earlier while driving back home to North Carolina from a visit with family in Florida. The two were discussing their upcoming undergraduate reunions. Mobile apps were starting to really take off at the time, and it occurred to them: ‘Wouldn’t it be great if there were a way to connect with classmates without having to know cell numbers or email addresses? A way for people to better connect leading up to and throughout a reunion?’
They were inspired to consider ways to make that happen. And Gather Digital was born.
The plan took shape at the Phillips’ kitchen table, and in June 2010 their first event app debuted at the Harvard Business School Class of 1995 reunion. Their first corporate client—JMP, a division of SAS—came on board in September of that year.
The Phillips, aka the ‘First Couple of Event Apps,’ were in business. Eight years later, still headquartered in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Gather Digital is established as an industry leader. And though the company now has 22 employees on three continents, an intimate, hands-on, kitchen-table approach to doing business endures. Jon and Wendy had both worked in senior management positions in Silicon Valley in the late ‘90s and saw the bubble burst around them. They knew the kind of company they would want to build: one with steady, planned growth; no venture capital; and, most importantly, a commitment to ‘people first’—clients, employees and partners.
Leslie Boggs, a senior account manager who’s been with Gather Digital since February 2013, explains what that looks like.
‘Open dialogue is encouraged and real consideration is given to feedback from both clients and employees,’ Boggs says, ‘and we all have a hand in helping our company grow. I think we’ve excelled in this industry by listening to smart, experienced people—our customers and our staff.’
From the outset, across-the-board input has been considered an essential ingredient of quality and growth. Customers frequently call to collaborate and members of the Gather Digital development team regularly meet with their account team colleagues, the front-liners, to hear how customers are responding to their app experiences.
Collectively, customers and the GD team create features that make events yet more engaging and productive for attendees, sponsors and conference planners alike.
Design Director Bruce Russell speaks of the pleasures of working in a ‘laid-back environment,’ one in which he’s encouraged to explore: ‘We’re given a lot of independence here; the freedom to innovate. That’s really nice.’
Steady, planned growth has brought Gather Digital to the forefront of its industry. Its mobile app suite and content management system are deployed today by some of the world’s largest financial and banking institutions, large technology firms, universities, member organizations and many others.
‘It’s been incredible to watch our growth,’ Boggs says. ‘And it’s fun to be part of that, not just to have it happen around you. We’re treated like a family, and listened to. We help drive the changes.’
Bringing people together is the very core of Jon and Wendy Phillips’ business model. It’s what their Gather Digital mobile app does, and it’s what they’ve done in building a successful enterprise.
If the cost of that was, back in those early days, often being awoken in the wee hours … so be it. The return today is immeasurable.
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