Starting Your Startup: Entrepreneurial Insights

Experiences are greater than things. This is the statement that has been the driving force behind everything that I do. My name is Kreg Peeler and I am the Founder and CEO of SpinGo and Aktify, two innovative companies that are changing the attendee experience. SpinGo is an event engine that provides tailored solutions for events including ticketing, onsite badging, scheduling, and much more while Aktify is a customer acquisition engine that qualifies and reactivates prospects through goodwill experience marketing.

Before I was an entrepreneur, I was just a college student with a simple mission: I didn’t want to hear people constantly complaining that there was nothing to do in our college town. At the time I worked on sounds and lighting for many different events, so I knew there was a lot to do but somehow getting the word out about these events was proving to be a challenge. I decided I wanted to create a way for people to hear about these events so they wouldn’t have to complain about it anymore. The idea started there and has since transformed into what SpinGo is today, but it didn’t happen overnight.

In the early stages, I had a company called Spin Student Life, a directory of local events, entertainment, restaurants, date ideas, deals, etc. targeted at college students. It was the failure of this company that eventually led me to SpinGo. A particular experience that has always stuck with me was when Spin Student Life decided to officially launch with a big block party. We had thoughtfully pieced together the venue, entertainment, food, music, etc. All we needed was marketing to get the word out about our event, so I enlisted the help of my good friend and we got to work. Unfortunately, our marketing efforts wound up being ineffective. So much so that the day of the event we had an event set up for an expectation of 5,000 people and we had maybe 10 show up. Definite failure. However, it is failure that has taught me the most as an entrepreneur.

I’ve come to accept that failure is a constant state of entrepreneurship. If you aren’t failing, you’re not trying anything new. That feeling of your gut sinking, of embarrassment, of failure, is awful, but it can be resolved by trying again and trying differently. When Spin Student Life failed I knew I could quit and simply stay a failure, or I could try again and maybe succeed because of everything I had learned the first time around.

Today I am a passionate entrepreneur and CEO of 2 companies. I pride myself on taking care of my people, which enables my team to be as focused, creative, and driven as they can be. I don’t want them to have to worry about the money or the politics of it all, I want them to thrive in their roles and not be afraid to try new things. My experience as an entrepreneur has taught me that I don’t have all the answers. Because of this I have made it a point to hire smarter people than myself so that I am surrounded by the best and the brightest. I encourage my team to embrace “honeybadgerness”, meaning to never be afraid to break down walls and take on projects head on. Because of our go-getter mentality, we make decisions together because I think it’s important for every one of us to have a voice.

If you are getting ready to launch your own startup my advice to you is to:

1) Have a clear vision of what you want to accomplish.

2) Have a solid team of people you know you can count on to take initiative and break down walls.

3) Have a good financial partner who has your back for the ups and downs of it all.

Great companies aren’t built in a day. When I started SpinGo we were responsible for our own finances. Today we are backed by tech influencers like Todd Pedersen, CEO of Vivint, and Rick Alden, Founder of Skullcandy. Remember that it takes time to achieve the success you want. It will take lots of time and lots of mistakes. We’ve made tons of mistakes, done plenty of things wrong, but if I remove those from the story, then my companies wouldn’t be where they are today.

Sensible Marketing Ideas to Drive Event Attendance

As an event marketer, one of the most frequent questions event makers ask me is how much digital advertising is required to drive X number of attendees. In response, I usually encourage them to take a step back and consider the position digital advertising has within a larger, well-rounded marketing strategy.

At SpinGo, we work with an “Awareness-Discovery-Decision” marketing approach. This method maps the strengths of different marketing channels to an audience’s attendance decision behavior pattern. It is a helpful exercise for every event maker to consider how different marketing channels (including, but not limited to, digital advertising) work in this Awareness-Discovery-Decision approach.

The three main components of this marketing framework are:

Awareness – The attendee is in her daily routine when an ad grabs her attention and makes her aware of an upcoming event. She is interested in attending, but she does not need to make an immediate decision to go.

Discovery (layered onto continued Awareness efforts) – While exploring upcoming things to do, the attendee discovers an interesting event. There is some urgency to finalize plans, and she shares the event information with her social circle to see if anyone else has interest.

Decision (layered onto continued Awareness and Discovery efforts) – The attendee finalizes her event plans. She searches online for the best ticket prices, artist info, venue info, and other important details related to the event. She makes sure everyone who’s going is on the same page.

Here is an exercise that demonstrates the value of a full range of marketing options in this Awareness-Discover-Decision reality:

Digital advertising is crucial to an event marketing campaign; it lays the foundation of awareness that you need to create an audience and validate your message to that audience. However, you are more likely to actually “believe what happened next!” than to see a digital ad, click on it, and purchase its offering in one sitting. An insightful, methodical event marketing campaign will include digital advertising as part of a complete mix of appropriate and creative channels.

Event Safety: How to Ensure Your Attendees Feel Safe At Your Event

Recently, SpinGo conducted a new survey revealing how U.S. event attendees feel about their personal safety at live events and how their safety perceptions have changed after the recent terrorist attacks in Paris. The data poignantly revealed that recent attacks at live events impact attendees feelings of safety, with nearly 33 percent feeling worried that a violent attack may happen to them at a live event. Additionally, 33 percent feel they cannot rely on facility staffers to resolve a safety concern if one were to come up. Despite their concerns, the large majority (76 percent) still feel that live events are safe.

As event planners, you know that creating the right environment for your audience is essential to putting on a successful event. Part of creating that perfect setting comes for ensuring that your attendees feel safe, especially if they have never attended an event you’ve put on before. While it’s great that 76 percent of people feel safe as they go to events, what the data really says is that one in four people don’t feel safe. This means that people will potentially opt out from attending your event because they don’t feel comfortable for whatever reason. While the law of statistics says that you will never be able to make everybody feel safe, you can still make great strides towards improving the sense of security surrounding your event. Based on the data from our survey, we have a few suggestions to improve the feeling of safety at your event.

To harbor safety – security, location matter.

More than half of those surveyed (54 percent) feel there is a need to increase security measures at live events following the terrorist attacks in Paris. To alleviate those concerns, roughly one third surveyed said that seeing security personnel provides them with the greatest sense of security. At your event, see if it is possible to have a form of security at the entrance of your event. This doesn’t mean you have to have a police officer in uniform staring everybody down as they enter, but depending on what type of event you are running, that might not be a bad option. Larger events should have security personnel at the entrance, while smaller events can simply get away with a bouncer. If your event is small enough, a simple ticket check, or check in at the front should suffice.

Attending an event in a good area provides the second highest sense of security to your event attendees. When you are choosing a venue for your event, see what you can do to find a venue in a neighborhood with a good reputation. The survey also revealed that one of the factors that make attendees feel the most unsafe at an event is if they are unfamiliar with area where the event is taking place. Research is going to be of critical importance to you as you select where to host your event. Even if your attendees have never been to the venue you select before, if the venue is located in an area with a good reputation, they will feel better about attending your event.

Take me out to the…play.

When it comes to hosting your event, the type of venue you select matters greatly. The study revealed over 33 percent of people feel the safest when attending an event at a performing arts theater, followed closely by events held at small concert venues (26.83 percent). However, nearly 25 percent of event attendees have safety concerns when attending events at sports arenas/stadiums. So how do you solve this? Obviously, some types of events require certain venues such as major sporting events. However, some types of events are flexible for their location, such as concerts, conferences, lectures, etc. If your event is flexible, see if you can choose a type of venue where people will feel safest. If you have an outdoor event, your venue choice will be limited, but try and be creative to see how you can improve the location of your event if you feel safety is a concern for some of your potential attendees.

These are a couple of tips we have come up with based on the research we conducted, but we know there are other ways to improve the sense of security around your event. Below is an infographic with other data from the survey. See how the information can help you shape your event for the better and make your event a safe haven for all, so that your attendees minds can be focused on the reasons why they went to your event in the first place; to have fun, make memories, and have a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Say Yes

BYU student Parker Williams recently attended a lecture by Kreg Peeler, SpinGo’s founder and CEO. Following a subsequent conversation with Kreg, Parker collected and shared an article with insights on entrepreneurship, learning, vision, and SpinGo’s future. Here are some of the highlights:

Experiential Learning

Kreg explained the value of internships, both paid and unpaid:

“Don’t be afraid of a job that doesn’t pay anything,” he said. “At SpinGo, we have hired a lot of interns that come in and start working for free or for very little per hour. If they work hard, and are dependable, and bring some new skills to the table, they usually end up with a pretty good job. There are about 6 people who work for us now who are really on a path to being leaders in the company because they jump in and say yes to challenges.”

He quoted Bill Gates and Richard Branson about how becoming an entrepreneur is directly linked to experiential learning:

“If you want to learn how to be an entrepreneur, say yes to something that scares you to death, then figure out how to do it.”

Kreg mentioned that he loved events and film production, but didn’t initially know a lot about either:

“There was a lot that I didn’t know about each of those fields. I just started saying yes and started shadowing people who knew what they were doing, and pretty soon figured out how to do it myself and was able to use that as a skill to help me get more work.”


During his lecture, Kreg posed a question:

“How true are you to your vision? What is the essence of your vision? Understand what it is that motivates you and stay true to that. Don’t just sell out to the next opportunity even if it sometimes might pay more. In the end, you are going to be unhappy because you’re not doing what you love. Really find things that are exciting to you, things that you’re passionate about. Feel free to adapt the implementation of your vision, but I don’t think the vision changes all that much.”

Kreg gave the example of climbing a mountain. When you start off, you can see the peak at the top and your vision is to get there. There are multiple ways to get to the top, but the end goal is the same:  you want to stand at the top of the mountain knowing you accomplished everything you set out to do.

Founding SpinGo

“The founding vision I want to stay true to is to make a platform that solves problems for multiple people on different sides of the table. That would be the ultimate success for me—that people found a great event and, on the other side, people were able to market a good event to those people.”

SpinGo’s Future

Kreg was very excited to talk about the future of SpinGo and where he sees his company going. In regards to coming up with new ideas for the future, he said, “We look at what the market is doing and anticipate the needs before the people encounter the problems. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

Regarding the immediate future of SpinGo:

“We will be more centralized in a lot more companies. You’ll see some new things coming out from those companies that are more event-centric. Providing a more intelligent user experience, where you can ask a vague question and get an intelligent answer—that’s one part of it. The other is we will be able to help event makers more. We want them to say, ‘I can go to SpinGo and get more immediate results.’ We also want to provide more analytics and visibility into where the dollars are going and what kind of return they (event makers) are getting.”

The Big Three

1.  What single piece of advice would you give to college students who want to become entrepreneurs?

“Think of a university like a zoo. It’s valuable to see the animals, but don’t get caught in the cage. There’s a ton you can learn by watching the animals, there are a lot of things you can analyze about your life and about the world in general, but if you stay too long, you get caught in the cage.”

2.  What are you currently reading?

Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull, Founder and President of Pixar

3.  What skills do you feel are essential to be successful in entrepreneurship or business?

Tenacity. Stay stubborn about your vision. Stay secure in your convictions, but take criticisms and feedback on a better way to accomplish your vision.