This Month we get to know better Braindate by e180

What was your motivation to join ICCA?

Inspired by the theme of ICCA’s North America Summit “From Surviving to Thriving,” we believe all great change, all fantastic momentum, all new ideas, spark from a single conversation. ICCA proudly serves a network of 1000s of global associations, CVBs, DMCs, PCOs, and venues who understand the power of gatherings and events. When we approach these events more intentionally with a focus of learning from each other, we can better design more tailored events that deliver ROI for all stakeholders. We want to help facilitate those conversations for your events and organizations.


Tell us your story. How did Braindate get started?

We started out facilitating braindates at local coffee shops in Montreal. In 2013, our first collaboration with C2 Montreal launched us into the world of events. There we found a captive and motivated audience i.e. event participants that needed a solution to help them learn more intentionally and find the right people to have those important knowledge-sharing conversations with.

Since 2013, we have worked with clients across the globe, including some of the world's most admired organizations for their flagship events, such as The Obama Foundation, TED, Slack, General Electric, Salesforce, Airbnb, Cisco, Adobe, and the World Bank. Our award-winning technology has given the opportunity to nearly 1 million users from around the world to learn from each other and form valuable connections based on shared interests and challenges. Participants at events use Braindate to book one-one and group meetings, from a crowd-sourced market of topics.


What sets Braindate apart?

Braindate unlocks human greatness by empowering each individual to share their knowledge, and learn from one another on THEIR terms, and in a format most appropriate for their style. Traditional learning and networking is often designed with a certain persona in mind. When we ask participants to engage with what best fits their needs, styles, and goals—not only will they feel a larger sense of belonging, but they can design with their desired outcome in mind. Braindate invites people to connect over crowdsourced, topic-driven content, not a job title. Additionally, we have been hosting braindates in person since 2013. Our years of experience has created a wealth of knowledge and best practices that we share with organizers. Our learning concierges (virtual or on-site) add that extra touch to ensure all participants feel welcome, are braindating in the best possible way for them, connecting on and sharing topics of interest, and on top of this, they add a warm smile to every interaction.

What is your favorite success story from your organisation?

Like so many in the events industry, when the pandemic started and the industry came to a screeching halt, we lost our clients/events for an indeterminate amount of time. How could we host live braindates if we weren’t on site? The idea of intentionally connecting virtually had been in our minds for a while and this was the catalyst needed. We gathered our team together with all their creativity, ideas, and imagination, and worked intensely. In two weeks, we launched virtual braindates. Now, having this experience with both virtual and in-person braindates, we continue to evolve but stay true to our mission of transforming the way humans learn.


What can we expect to see from Braindate in the future?

Bolstered by our learnings in the events industry, e180 is now working on going back to its roots, while strengthening its offering to its existing clients. Our vision for the future of Braindate is to create a platform fostering peer learning yearlong for all, both face-to-face and virtually, so people can Braindate every day, whether part of their organization or community.

Peer-learning should be a key player in adult lifelong learning and we know braindates will be able to foster these intentional, topic-driven conversations, any day of the year.


Which trends do you see in the Association Meetings?

More and more associations are recognizing how critical it is to “disrupt” and not push copy/paste on previous event agendas. It is wonderful to see associations try new formats, bring in diverse speakers, create more personalized experiences, and reflect upon the impact their organization and its events can make on a macro or micro-level. 


What is an industry challenge your organisation is facing currently?

Our team has had a hybrid working environment even before the pandemic started and fortunately during this time, our team has grown! With people working from numerous cities—how can we create rituals, culture, and engagement that bond and connect our team? This is why we actually brought this idea of being able to braindate everyday to our internal team first! Connecting as humans is critical and can be done, even via virtual braindates with our teammates.

Additionally, another industry challenge resulting from the return to live events: Management needing to balance their and clients’ expectations of potential output now vs when we were all only working from home. Working remotely over the past years may have quickened our response time and minimized some distractions–but now as many return to on-site events and travel, a balance must be created between the demands of being on the road vs office work, and the pace in which it can be delivered. It is something we are all trying to figure out that is sustainable for each individual, their realities, and mental health.