"It's a completely new take on networking," said Jeff Sinclair,
co-founder of Eventbase. "There are so many people that want to
connect. We're just trying to make those connections better." The
company calls its geo-targeting solution "hyper-local
The installation is also a bid to acclimatize more people to
beacons. The small devices, which connect smartphones through
bluetooth, are rolling out nationwide, as retailers and marketers
hope to harness location targeting for in-store sales. Facebook is
currently testing beacons, working with Qualcomm to spread the gadgets across the
country and tie them back to their users, and their ads.
Still, the gadgets carry a stigma. For one, it requires
consumers to keep bluetooth on, which, in its earlier iterations,
sucked battery life.
"People think bluetooth, they think their battery is going to be
drained," said Ben West, the other Eventbase co-founder. Across the
convention, Eventbase is putting out material encouraging attendees
to switch on the function.
With beacons, people also think privacy invasion and spam, Mr.
West added. Eventbase says it is not sharing any personal data. The
app's creators are working to find the right amount of pushed user
notifications and are also trying to keep the app relativey
promotion free. Showtime, the conference's co-sponsor, is also a
sponsor of the app where it is running display ads. Eventbase is
also working with USA Networks on experiential marketing during the
"With beacon technology, the price has just come down to a point
that it's cost effective to do this," explained Mr. Sinclair.
Gimbal, a beacon manufacturer recently spun off from Qualcomm,
supplied the devices, which range from $3 to $50. They range in
size too, with the smallest being the size of a poker chip. In
installing the beacons, Eventbase tried to be discrete. Some small
beacons dangled virtually unnoticed on a bannister above the
Mega-events like South by Southwest, with its dozens of
overlapping panels and speakers, can quickly become overwhelming.
With the conference app, Eventbase aims to offer a "deeper
integration between you and the content," Mr. West said.
And it wants to make the primary reason people flock to
conferences like this -- meeting others -- easier. Mr. West, a
self-described introvert, looked at the app on his phone. "This
helps me get over that," he said.