Community Brands, which has a portfolio of technology solutions for associations, nonprofits, and schools, has brought a virtual-meeting solution under its umbrella. The company has acquired Pathable, the event app and conference-community platform that made a quick and successful pivot to executing online meetings in early in 2020.
Pathable’s CEO Jordan Schwartz launched the company 2008 as a social network for meeting attendees and evolved it over the years to compete in the mobile-app space. The transition to virtual, though, was much more abrupt. In February 2020, “we realized, kind of with everyone else, that every one of our mobile-event app clients was gone for the next year, at least,” Schwartz says. He also realized that Pathable’s existing product could be adapted. “We weren't going to reinvent the wheel; we would do what we do best” and integrate with other technologies like Zoom and Vimeo to take advantage of their specific expertise.
The company produced its first virtual meeting six weeks after deciding to transition, and business boomed after that. By early summer, virtual meetings were driving monthly revenues that were 2,000 percent higher than what Pathable earned in 2019.
Over the years, Schwartz had made a few stabs at selling his company, and he decided to look around once more while business was hot. “Part of our motivation [for selling] was that we knew that anyone who needed to add a virtual-event platform to their portfolio was going to do it in 2020, or early 2021. So, we wanted to be on the front end of that trend.”
While Pathable is now part of Community Brands, it will keep its name and Schwartz is staying with the company for the foreseeable future. He says the challenges of improving how attendees connect and learn through virtual events makes it an exciting time to be involved. “It feels like Steve Jobs’ garage. We get to invent the future.”
Schwartz points to three areas where Pathable will be focused as it moves ahead: developing new and better ways for attendees to network; partnering with production companies for virtual events that want higher-quality lighting, sound, or sets for speakers; and developing year-round communities. On the latter, he says that once an association removes the constraint of having to fit nearly all its education and networking into one annual event, “you suddenly have an opportunity to provide content in a more continuous way…I think there's still value to having people come together at designated times, having a shared experience. But you can stretch that out over a month, you can stretch that out over the year, and have a better engagement experience for attendees.”
Other companies in the Community Brands portfolio include event-registration provider Configio; membership-software companies Aptify and YourMembership; association-management software companies NimbleAMS and Abila; mobile-app company TripBuilderMedia; event-tech company Expo Logic; and more.