At Sprout Insights, we comb the web to bring you the most up-to-date and actionable resources on how to use social media to grow your business. In our travels, we also come across new products, services and companies that can help you increase your productivity, find new business opportunities, or gain competitive advantage in your industry.
To that end, we’re pleased to present a new series on Sprout Insights: Spotlight on Startups. We’ll find the most innovative, useful startup companies out there, get the inside track on what they’re doing, and tell you how you can leverage their products and services for your own business.
Whether you’ve been too busy to find these start-ups on your own or they’ve simply been under your radar, leave it us. We’ll do the leg work to bring you the most relevant information about these companies and show you the best way to apply their offerings. Who knows? We might even have a few promotions from time to time to keep you coming back for more!
Four the inaugural article in our series, we’re presenting Speakerfile — a start-up dedicated to bringing industry experts, speakers, and thought leaders together with their counterparts in the events and meetings industry.
What is Speakerfile?
Speakerfile is a professional, online connection and booking engine that links industry leaders, experts, and speakers in the meetings and conferences industry. Unlike existing speaker bureaus, Speakerfile does not charge commissions or fees for booking speakers, nor does it facilitate any of the logistics in setting up speaking engagements.
Instead, it provides a host of resources — including rich-media speaker profiles and a global, searchable database of speakers, planners, and events — so that members can more easily find and connect with each other.
Speakerfile was launched in 2011 and officially came out of beta on April 10, 2012. It’s already signed up over 3,000 members, including executives from corporations like Ford Motor Company, FedEx, and more. The company’s revenue model relies on premium speaker memberships and enterprise accounts. In the case of the latter, Speakefile even offers a white-label option so that large corporations can create their own executive speakers bureaus using Speakerfile’s robust (and proprietary) content management system.
What Needs Does It Address?
The global events sector is a multi-billion dollar industry and yet, according to Speakerfile co-founder and CEO, Peter Evans, it’s still surprisingly dependent on low-tech tools like email and word-of-mouth referrals. The industry is also dominated by a relatively small number of high-profile, professional speakers — “cliques and tribes” as Evans calls them — who present at these events. Evans cautions that although these speakers may be highly qualified, if an organization or event has seen the same speakers three out of the last five years, “the audiences are not necessarily being well served.”
“There’s a freshness factor that’s going unsatisfied in the meeting and events industry,” Mr. Evans says, adding that “corporate-based thought leaders” are amazing resources for events. Up until now, says Evans, industry executives and insiders have been largely overlooked because event planners haven’t had an effective way to source them out.
“It’s very difficult to find non-paid, industry experts — especially executives who want to speak promotionally on behalf of their companies,” says Evans.
And Evans should know — he’s been on the corporate speaking circuit, presenting on behalf of various companies for over 10 years. “The process of booking speakers like me can be very inefficient,” he says. A typical speaker booking involves “at least 10-20 emails, sometimes more,” says Evans.
He says the inefficiency problem is compounded for smaller events, associations, or organizations where planners are sometimes volunteers, or where they lack the resources to find the best talent. There are thousands of experts who may be hidden on a “bunch of fragmented databases” or among “130 million other profiles on LinkedIn,” says Evans — so he created Speakerfile to address this problem.
“We’re the eHarmony for experts and events,” says Evans, as he describes how Speakerfile is more like a matchmaker than a speaker bureau. “Our speakers can represent themselves with rich-media profiles, including pictures and videos, and our planners can make a match based on what’s most important to them.” Organizers can search for paid or non-paid speakers, professionals or corporate executives, or a variety of other criteria.
How You Can Leverage Speakerfile
In addition to Speakerfile providing a way for event organizers to find otherwise hidden or untapped speaking talent, the service also provides a means for corporations to promote and book their own executives. “54 percent of organizations have no process in place to put their executives on the podium,” Mr. Evans says. For a variety of reasons, the majority or organizations simply lack the infrastructure and resources to present their staff and executives as industry thought leaders.
Perhaps you’re a corporate executive who’s been yearning to hit the speaker circuit to share your knowledge and expertise. Or perhaps you’re a CEO who realizes that you can effectively promote your organization by getting your best people to speak at industry trade shows, AGMs, association meetings, and so on. In either case, Speakerfile can provide you all the tools you’ll need to explore these possibilities.
The service is free for basic speaker profiles, and there’s no charge to event planners and organizers to search for speakers. Organizations can also create their own mini speaker bureaus with Speakerfile, leveraging its global network to expand the reach of their executives.
An Exclusive Offer for Sprout Insights Readers
Are you a speaker or a corporate executive who would like to break into the speaking circuit? Has your organization been looking for a way to get your executives more speaking dates? If so, Speakerfile has provided some exclusive offers to Sprout Insights readers.
Each of the first 25 people who send an email request to SpecialOffer@speakerfile.com and put “Sprout Social Offer” in the subject line will receive a free, Premium speaker profile for one year (a $299 value).
If you represent an organization, Speakerfile has also provided four free Corporate accounts (10 speaker profiles and a corporate speaker page) for one year (a $749 value). Please specify in the body of the email whether you’re requesting the individual speaker profile or the corporate account. Good fortune — we’ll see you on the speaker circuit!
Special thanks to Speakerfile co-founders Peter Evans and Robert Carter for taking time out of their very hectic schedules to be interviewed and to provide the promotional accounts for this article.