Mentorship community for engineers
Simultaneous conference tracks
Head of Community & Events
Plato, the largest mentorship platform for engineering managers, is filling an important need for cultivating leadership talent. “Oftentimes, a talented engineer gets promoted to managing a team of other engineers and they're not necessarily equipped with the training or resources to grow their leadership skills,” says Mustafa Khan, Head of Community & Events at Plato. “Our job is to match them with a senior leader who’s part of our mentor network.” 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 a great way for seasoned engineering leaders to share their knowledge,” says Mustafa. Plato’s events programming had consisted of an annual conference—Elevate—in San Francisco, meetups for engineering managers across the US and Europe, and intimate dinners for executives. Or at least, it did—until COVID-19.
While they hosted some virtual events in 2019, most of Plato’s energy and budget went toward in-person events. “Before COVID, we were hosting webinars every once in a while,” says Mustafa. “We invested heavily in the real-life meetups, our annual conference, and community dinners at our office.” When COVID made these gatherings impossible, Plato had to quickly revise their strategy.
They started using a popular webinar platform as a band-aid solution while they investigated their options. While they could make it work initially, they wanted a platform with a wow factor for their online conference. “The first solution was ‘good enough’ for webinars, but it’s the little things that make the difference between a good event and a great one,” says Mustafa. “We were asking ourselves: How do we make it great—especially when it's a bigger event, like a conference? We wanted to make sure that we were offering an amazing virtual experience so that attendees would come back.”
“We wanted to make sure that we were offering an amazing experience so that attendees would come back”
The stakes were high to turn the Elevate Conference virtual: They were expecting 1000 attendees and planning on four simultaneous conference tracks. The success of this event would set the tone for their events for the rest of 2020 and beyond. That’s where Welcome came in.
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. For us, we wanted the experience to feel polished and on-brand.”
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 continue to offer best-in-class support and our events are better because of that.”
“Knowing we’d get lots of support from the Welcome team was a big value-add. They continue to offer best-in-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, an amazing product, and then being able to easily execute a high-quality broadcast feel with our events,” says Mustafa. “Those are the main reasons we went with Welcome.”
Mustafa’s instincts were right—the Plato Elevate conference went off without a hitch. In fact, many more people attended than they had anticipated—instead of an audience of 1000, they welcomed nearly 3000 conference attendees
And it was a hit. The community loved the virtual experience so much that they demanded more. “We were really satisfied with how that first conference went, and we got lots of positive feedback from our community—the people who attended, as well as the speakers and our MC,” says Mustafa. “We were only envisioning hosting one conference a year but there was a lot of buzz from our community to host them on a more regular basis—it just seemed like the best thing to do.”
“There was a lot of buzz from our community to host them on a more regular basis—it just seemed like the best thing to do.”
Now, they plan to host a virtual conference each quarter—a frequency that wouldn’t be possible if they had to deal with the logistics of in-person. And they couldn’t be more thrilled to continue to be partnering with Welcome. “There wasn't a doubt once we decided to host more summits. We figured yes, Welcome is definitely the answer.”