This series is dedicated to learning from event experts on various topics. We cover event technology, meeting design, and much, more more! Today, we are pleased to interview STEWART ELLIOT, CEO of Modo Labs.
First of all, please tell our readers about your company - what is Modo Labs all about?
Modo Labs is a spin-off of MIT that is focused on Mobile Campus solutions – we mobilize campus information systems so that students, faculty, staff, and employees can get important information fast on their mobile devices. We also help them navigate the campus where they are working or studying, and keep them up to speed on any conference or event that’s happening on campus. In many of these cases, the campuses are huge and sometimes spread out around the world. It takes a special type of technology to bring all this information together AND to make it an awesome experience for the user on any mobile device -- from the smallest phone to a tablet.
We’ve long learned that every customer wants a to make a statement that offers the user an experience, an identity and brand that is uniquely theirs. Our flagship product - Kurogo Mobile Campus - is not only designed for an exceptional end-user experience, but it is incredibly easy to customize by developers and even by non-developers.
Over a thousand universities and organizations in more than 40 countries now use solutions from Modo Labs to deliver rich mobile websites and native apps.
What were the 3 keys to getting the company off the ground - where did you invest your time?
Well, there were more than 3, but I’ll focus on 3 of the big ones.
Customer success stories were definitely important. At the start, the company worked hard to collaborate with university leaders who pushed us to produce the very best campus technology on the market. Modo was very fortunate early on to develop customer relationships with Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Georgetown and NYU. These types of customers would not settle for anything but the best and helped us put together the most advanced Mobile Campus platform on the market, by far. We later worked with leaders in other market segments such as Pharma, Medical and Financial Services to ensure the product worked equally well in a commercial enterprise setting.
The second key was the mobile software platform itself – making sure that it was not a “one size fits all” approach, but rather that it could transform to meet any type of mobile use anywhere around the world. So many software companies talk about “customization and extensibility,” but very few actually deliver. On the other hand, our extensibility essentially allows customers to grab any type of data source, tailor the product for their specific need, and create a mobile experience that is unique and tailored. Because of this flexibility, it has been adapted for use outside the university environment almost as much as it is within it – something you typically wouldn’t predict for a product with deep roots in the HigherEd market. Yet, Kurogo Mobile Campus is now used by 3 of the top 10 hospitals in the U.S., and a growing number of Fortune 500 companies. And although they would all appear to be very different applications on the surface, they are all based on our core Kurogo Mobile Campus platform.
The final key is ease-of-implementation and ease-of-use. We regularly hear from our customers “I can’t believe how incredibly easy it is to do this,” or “I’m blown away with what I can do,” or even “Amazing - this is a game-changer,” because they are able to create and deploy powerful mobile solutions for both mobile web and native apps without any technical experience - much less any mobile experience - and finish it in days, hours, or even minutes. We worked really hard to make sure that even a non-technical person could use our product and instantly deploy a beautiful mobile experience across the entire spectrum of mobile devices with only about 45 minutes of training. Event Apps, Conference Apps, Orientations, and Tours – you name it. Phil Fernandez, the CEO of Marketo, a company that sells one of the leading online marketing automation solutions to non-technical marketers, said it best during a recent keynote at this year’s Marketo Marketing Nation Summit “This is the Future. This is where things are going. You need a product like Modo Labs.”
How do you use events to expand the reach of your brand?
We attend many events throughout the year to reach various market segments. We use our own solutions to promote our brand and to capture and nurture leads. For example, we use our own mobile apps built on top of Kurogo Publisher with Marketo integration at events to capture leads, which takes less than about 30 minutes to make the app and set it up. We have also sponsored events and provided Kurogo Publisher so that event organizers, who are not developers, can create event apps, including calendar and maps, easily. These are all great promotional events for the product.
Modo Labs Kurogo Mobile Campus, along with Kurogo Publisher and Kurogo Tour, helps event planners create an app specific to their event using built-in modules to seamlessly provide any type of information to its attendees. These modules provide powerful and quick access to dozens of data sources, including mapping systems, calendars, videos, information systems, Content Management Systems (CMS), social media and more. Additionally, meeting planners can implement changes at any time and immediately update users across every mobile channel including mobile web, native, small device and tablet.
The following are examples of features that an event planner typically considers in a mobile app but Modo Labs provides additional capabilities and customization features that you are unlikely to see in “event only” mobile products, such as:
- Conference location details with parking information complete with maps, times of events and their locations, nearby restaurants and bars, location of restroom facilities, coat check, first aid, etc.
- Ability to tightly integrate and incorporate responsive web sites in minutes, directly in the mobile app
- A way to easily create and dispense session agenda details complete with speaker bios, links to YouTube, news feeds, as well as times and location(s)
- Author interactive, beautiful tours to both prospective and present attendees
- Incorporate Social Networking
- Maintain year round engagement with their conference attendees, to build a long term attendee base and system that keeps customers and clients regularly updated with fresh news, content or new app features
In all cases, our platform “deep links” between all these features and capabilities so that a mobile user is not moving in and out of features in a siloed way, but rather navigating from one module to a specific and relevant screen in another module with a single tap of the screen. When this is done right, Mobile apps become truly “awesome.” With Modo, it’s easy for anybody to do it.
What is the coolest use of technology you've ever done for your brand or events?
My favorite project is the NYU mobile app and mobile web site. What I love about NYU is that if you look at both their mobile website (m.nyu.edu) and download their native apps, you’ll likely conclude that they are completely different mobile apps, yet they are actually driven by the same server, with the same data connections, and same mobile application logic. The difference is that they are configured to behave differently, depending on who you are and whether you are using the mobile web or native apps. For example, if you go to the NYU mobile website, you can select a role (e.g., Faculty, Staff, Alumni, Student, etc), and you’ll subsequently get a different experience. And, even more dynamic, if you open the NYU native app for Android or iPhone one week, then open it again a week later, it will have changed – the layout changes, the colors change, the content changes. In all cases, the hard work is being performed server-side by a single Kurogo Mobile Campus server, which allows a broad range of configurations to control personalized and tailored experiences. I don’t think you’ll find such a dynamic set of mobile experiences generated by a single system.
Finally, what is your favorite app?
Well, our customer apps are like my children – they’re all favorites!
But from a personal perspective, I happen to travel a lot – you might call me an extreme traveler. So, outside of Modo Labs, my app world tends to center around travel apps.
I LOVE Uber. It’s amazing. As one of my colleagues said, it’s a transcendental experience, and for me personally it has changed my travel approach in many different ways, all for the positive.
Modo Labs in many ways provides an Uber-like experience for our customers. We provide real time GPS-based tracking and mapping for a broad range of shuttle systems so students are able to find and watch in real-time their university transit system and waste no time finding transportation or waiting at a shuttle stop. NYU, Harvard, Georgetown, and many others are great examples of customers deploying this functionality.