We recently spoke to our CEO, Bjørn Christian Nørbech, to discuss all things myOnvent – its vision, origins, values, and future. This article is the first part of this interview, where we gave him free reign to answer the question: What was the inspiration behind creating myOnvent and what is its current mission?
Prior to myOnvent, Bjørn Christian’s career had taken him to the International Olympic Committee, where he worked as an intercultural communications adviser. His experience there was shaped by the Olympic spirit of peace and bringing people from all over the world together with three guiding values – excellence, friendship and respect. “What was even more fascinating about the Olympic Games was its universal appeal, its ability to bring all the people of the world together in one place with the underlying message of peace, creating friendship, and respect, to understand each other better,” said Bjørn Christian.
The concept of ‘events’ itself was something fascinating for Bjørn Christian. The ‘event’ is a powerful phenomenon – a group gathering that happens on a designated date with the astonishing potential of bringing people together in an inspiring, collaborative, and motivational way. “It was this combined interest in events and peacebuilding that forced me to ask myself some important questions. Would I be able to create such events on my own? Could I recreate a little bit of that spirit of bringing the world and its people together?” In 2011, Bjørn Christian organized his first physical event – the Global Mobility Forum. The event was centered around the challenges, opportunities, and solutions for international workforce mobility and employment.
The Global Mobility Forum eventually grew into something greater – Global Talent Week. The first edition of the event took place in Oslo in 2013. Over 2,000 talents and employers from all around the world met in person to explore potential collaboration opportunities. Despite the remarkable success of the event, Bjørn Christian immediately realized that the format of in-person events had several limitations. The in-person format meant that anybody who wasn’t in Oslo on those specific dates couldn’t take part in the event. “It just felt very backward to organize an event – especially something called the Global Talent Week – in such a limiting format.” This critical and constructive reflection brought Bjørn Christian to think about more inclusive, accessible, and environmentally-friendly alternatives to physical gatherings, where he began exploring the realm of online events.
The second edition of the Global Talent Week, which took place in March 2015, was also both the first online and the first hybrid event in the Nordics. After a year and a half of preparation, the event proved to be a real success, with over 5,000 talents joining online from 81 countries. Bjørn Christian highlights this success: “as a comparison, the 2016 Official Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer had around 1100 talents from 71 countries attending.” This was enough to demonstrate the immense power and potential of online events.
“The reason behind our success was the online format of our event. People could join regardless of their location, with close to 0 CO2 emissions. The online format proved to be a very effective way of opening up events to attendees all across the world. This way we could unite people around shared interests and initiatives.” However, while the existing online event platforms proved valuable for hosting events and sharing content, they lacked a relationship-building and networking aspect, and were not sufficiently scalable. “The aspect of building communities through online events was essential to me. This is where I saw that we could add something substantial to the idea of hosting online events. Something that no one else and no other platform had.” When Bjørn Christian started organizing his own online event in 2017, it was with the ambition to create the world’s leading online event and community platform.
myOnvent’s present-day mission is the same it was years ago. Our platform strives to make events more inclusive, more relevant, more attractive, and more sustainable. To Bjørn Christian, inclusivity means that anyone can attend our events from anywhere in the world at any time. “Whether the person is in a wheelchair, has an impairment, or is thousands of miles away from Norway (or any other physical location).”
In line with Bjørn Christian’s early vision, myOnvent attendees can continue networking both during and after the event. Our interactive networking and chat features enable attendees to exchange contacts and engage in effective communication anytime. And if a future event takes place in another format, they can always tune in, regardless of where they are. This idea was also key for the United Nations AI for Good project to choose myOnvent as their supplier. AI for Good is now building the world´s largest community for AI experts to accelerate the sustainable development goals: https://neuralnetwork.aiforgood.itu.int/event/ai-for-good
“We are happy to see relationships build on myOnvent and grow above and beyond the scope of our platform.” – Bjørn Christian Nørbech
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