Meet the speaker: Joe Atkinson

Joe co-founded Lineup Ninja in 2017. Before that he was the education and events coordinator for an environmental charity where he delivered regional, national and international events and learning programs. Prior to that he worked in tech for 10 years after graduating in Computer Science.
  • How long have you worked in the events industry and what keeps you interested in it?

    I first worked as a trainee sound engineer about 30 years ago and have worked in and out of events ever since. A couple of things keep me interested: our clients organise events across such a wide range of communities that I’m always learning about some new industry, branch of science, medicine or the arts – it’s absolutely fascinating! And of course the people in the events industry are amazing.

  • Best (and worst?) moments working in the events industry?

    Both are to do with unsolicited attendee feedback. I once received a piece of flip-chart paper with about 40 attendees’ hand-written messages on it that was so positive, full of gratitude and so moving that it brought me to tears. Another time I received some feedback that was so negative (and comprehensive!) and that arrived in my inbox just as I hit that post-show low, that I wanted to walk away from events forever. Glad I didn’t!

  • What was the last event on which you worked?

    Event Tech Live US & Canada :)

  • From your experience, what’s the best way to utilise tech at an event?

    In my experience organising events is pretty stressful, so anything that helps organisers stay in control of the chaos is good!

  • We all learn from our mistakes! What was the biggest lesson you learned from a mistake since being in the industry?

    I once made a pretty bad mistake on an event agenda. About a week before an event I swapped two sessions over at the request of a speaker. But I forgot to tell the other speaker that their session’s time had changed. On the morning of the second day of the event, I got a message over the radio that somebody was shouting and screaming at the reception staff. It turned out that I’d moved the other speaker’s session to the first day – the day he had told me months before that he wouldn’t be at the show. So he’d got up at 5am and taken a train 200 miles to get to the event, only to discover that he’d missed his session. 

    He was not happy. My reception team were not happy. Lots of visitors who’d gone to his session that he didn’t turn up for were not happy. My CEO who had been trying to establish a strategic relationships with the speaker was not happy. And it was all because of my mistake.

    I reflected on that mistake and realised that it was actually a very easy mistake to make. A few days before the event I had a million and one other things crying out for my attention, and I’d been working on emails and spreadsheets that weren’t intelligent enough to flag up that there was a problem with what I’d done. That’s when I came up with the idea for Smart Agenda Planning – the technology at the heart of Lineup Ninja. I teamed up with an old friend and we started a company to build it and bring it to market. So, I learned that while mistakes can feel terrible in the moment, they can actually be the birthplace of innovation and amazing new adventures!

  • What are you most looking forward to at Event Tech Live?

    Meeting our existing clients, seeing new tech in the startup competition, hearing news and views from leading lights in the industry, and hopefully meeting some new clients.

  • What do events, such as ETL, mean to you?

    Ultimately it’s about community and belonging. Sure, we hope to do some business, but it’s really about connecting with people.

  • What can our delegates expect to take away from your session at ETL?

    An understanding of how ETL US & Canada used our software to manage the complexity of coordinating a lot of speakers, avoid making mistakes like mine, and save time in the process.

  • Which one piece of tech couldn’t you live without? 

    Hard question! I don’t know, but I do get pretty twitchy if I’m away form my laptop for too long! 

  • Most pointless tech you have purchased?

    Probably phone VR glasses – fun for about 30 minutes.

Join Joe for his session: An Insight Into the Tech Behind Event Tech Live’s Agenda
at ETL US & Canada on June 8th on the Omni Stage – Book your ticket here