Plato is the largest mentorship platform for engineering managers and is filling an important need for cultivating leadership talent. “Oftentimes a really talented engineer gets promoted to managing a team of other engineers and they're not necessarily equipped with the training or the resources to grow their leadership skills,” says Mustafa Khan, Head of Community & Events at Plato. “Basically, we're trying to connect them with other leaders who’ve been there.” One of the key ways Plato helps cultivate these connections is through events.
“Events are a big part of our community building efforts and they’re just a great way for thought leaders and veterans who have been managing teams for many years to share their knowledge,” says Mustafa. Their events programming typically includes an annual conference—Elevate—in San Francisco, featured speaker events across the US and Europe, and intimate dinners for executives. Or at least, it did—until the Covid-19 pandemic struck.
Before the pandemic, much of Plato’s community-building efforts took place through in-person events. While they had dabbled in virtual events, most of their energy and budget went toward in-person. “Before Covid, we were hosting webinars and live Q&A sessions in a light kind of way,” says Mustafa. “We invested much more in the real life meetups, the annual conference, and the dinners.” When Covid-19 made these kinds of gatherings impossible, Plato had to quickly revise their strategy.
They started using a popular web conferencing platform as a band aid solution while they investigated their options. While they could make it work for webinars, they really wanted a platform with a wow factor to take their annual conference online. “It was the ‘good enough’ solution, but it’s the little things, the nuances, that make the difference between a good event and a great event,” says Mustafa. “We were asking ourselves, how do we make it great—especially when it's a bigger experience, like a conference? We wanted to make sure that we were offering an amazing experience so that people would come back.”
The stakes were high: They were expecting 600 attendees and planning on four simultaneous conference tracks. The success of this event would set the tone for their events for the rest of the year. That’s where Welcome came in.
“We wanted to make sure that we were offering an amazing experience so that people would come back.”
After evaluating nine different platforms for their first ever virtual Elevate conference, Plato chose Welcome. It checked all of their boxes. “What I particularly liked was the fact that you could have a broadcast feel,” says Mustafa. “I also liked the white label aspect of it. With some other platforms, as the attendee, you feel like you're still on someone else's platform. You're not really at the Plato Elevate experience—which is fine for some marketers, but for us, being able to make it feel like our own was critical.”
Mustafa and his team also felt at ease knowing that Welcome’s white glove support team would be there to help every step of the way. “Knowing we'd get lots of support from the Welcome team was a big value add,” he says. “They always offer best-of-class support and our events are better because of that.”
Overall, they knew Welcome was the best platform to host an event that would dazzle and delight their conference attendees. “It was a combination of a good price, great service, a great product, and then being able to easily execute a high-quality kind of broadcast feel with our events,” says Mustafa. “Those are the main reasons we went with Welcome.”