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THE NEXT WAVE: Wavework app founder feels she has a better way for event organizers and attendees to network

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Jessica Gaffney, founder and CEO, Wavework: 'It's not who you know, it's who you don't know.'
Jessica Gaffney, founder and CEO, Wavework: 'It's not who you know, it's who you don't know.' - ()

As she worked her job managing the wants and desires of the luxury suite holders of the New York Jets, Jessica Gaffney slowly began to realize she was unable to fulfill their greatest need: Knowing what other top business executives — and potential business opportunities — also were watching the game at MetLife Stadium.

How can business professionals network with purpose, she thought, if they don’t have a roster of the other players at the event?

Gaffney made an extensive search of event apps and said she found none fully fit all of the needs she had.

So she created her own app: Wavework.

“This app was designed to connect people at live events and leverage the collaborative power of community at live events,” Gaffney said. “I like to describe this app as a hybrid of LinkedIn, Foursquare and Tinder for business. And later this year, we’ll be adding functionality similar to Meetup and Eventbrite.”

The way it works, Gaffney said, is simple.

She said it takes fewer than two minutes to download the app and create a simple profile that details your name, title, company and industry. After that, through the use of geofencing, you simply check in at your event on the app and you are instantly connected to all other attendees who are checked into the event — getting valuable information you can use in real time.

Gaffney said Wavework not only allows someone to have better networking opportunities at the event, but also in the future. 

“How many business cards can you possibly collect, how many conversations can you possibly have?” she said. “And if you do get lucky enough to have five really good conversations, are you going to remember what you said and what they looked like? And what are you going to do about it? Wavework eliminates the need for business cards and enables you to network with all 500 attendees at an event instead of just the five or 10 you may have actually met.

“And how frustrating is it when you find out after an event has taken place that someone from a company you have been trying to meet was at the event and you didn’t get to meet them. Wavework expands your strategic opportunities in real time and allows you to continue to network long after an event has ended.”

And with more than just other attendees.

“It’s a way to engage speakers, exhibitors and sponsors that you may not want to wait on line (for) when the session has ended,” she said. “It’s a way to connect with them on your time.”

And when an event is over, all information is archived forever, enabling attendees to call up contacts from previous events by the event.

The app, which soft-launched at Super Bowl 50 earlier this year, is free for all to use. Gaffney emphasizes that the app is most beneficial when most of the attendees of the event are checked in on it — and it’s being promoted by event organizers.

Gaffney is confident once event organizers will promote Wavework when they realize all the benefits.

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Her time in the sports and entertainment events space made Gaffney understand how much event organizers value data about others in the room.

“For many teams and leagues, venues, and sponsors, to be able to identify who their fans are and to be able to engage them in real time is a tremendous value,” she said. “The robust analytical output that we can provide is truly unique.”

The same principle applies at a smaller sponsored business events.

“From a business development perspective, it’s important for getting the most ROI when making a big investment,” she said. “Businesses need to make connections with other businesses to collaborate and grow.

“Wavework provides an inside track to potential clients, customers and partners and it helps identify other key executives, candidates perhaps for talent acquisition and employment opportunities.”

More so, Gaffney said, it serves as a scorecard.

“You can identify if your competitors are at the event so you really have a leg up of whether you are the only player in that market in that space or if you are being out-represented by your competitors,” she said.

Gaffney feels some of the app’s increased functionality, to be released later this year, will make it a value-added tool for organizers.

Biz in brief
Company: Wavework App
Founded: 2015
Founder and CEO: Jessica Gaffney
Headquarters: Totowa
One more thing: Gaffney has been making the rounds on the tech circuit. At the Super Bowl in San Francisco, she sat on a panel of ‘Women in Tech.’ Next month, she has been invited to attend WORLDZ, from the creators of PTTOW (Plan To Take On the World); it’s a cultural marketing summit that brings in top leaders across all industries in the new global culture.

Prior to an event, Wavework will have the ability to sell tickets and provide event registration capability — and give buyers a sneak peak at who else will be there when they do so. At the event currently, event organizers can use the app to talk to the attendees in real time, also providing agendas and speaker bios.

It will also provide the ability to hold silent auctions and make donations or take real-time surveys, whether it’s asking a question pertinent to a presentation or getting feedback on how a presentation is going.

“Most organizers can only get feedback long after the event, we can do it in real time,” she said.

And if there’s a problem, Wavework is a way to talk directly to attendees to explain a situation, Gaffney said.

These are the features Gaffney feels separates her app from its most obvious comparison: LinkedIn.

“LinkedIn is great, but it’s a static database of contacts,” she said. “Unless you are proactively going through your contacts at an event, it’s not providing value at events.”

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Apps are great. Free apps are even better.

Gaffney said funding is not currently an issue.

“I have an angel investor and I am not seeking additional funding at this time,” she said. “I’ve had more interest than I could have ever imaged. When people find out about what the app can do, they want to invest in it. That tells me we are on to something.”

There are plenty of projected revenue streams, she said.

For starters, the most obvious: advertising. The app will be able to push out paid messages, too. And to a selected audience.

“If you’d like to select a male audience of C-level executives in the insurance industry based in New Jersey, you could hone in specifically for advertising to just that audience,” she said. “Sponsors could choose to target only the people attending their event in real time or they you can choose a targeted audience that they define, by location, gender, title, industry, age — whatever their need is.”

Gaffney also said she has received inquiries about white labeling the product, allowing organizers to just use it for their own personal events — or a series of events that they want to hold.

It’s another example of how the app can be as beneficial to the event organizer as the attendee.

“There is vast opportunities for usage,” she said. “If you’re seeking talent acquisition, funding, business partners, general collaboration, there is no other live event-specific service like this.”

For now, Gaffney is most concerned about getting Wavework in the public consciousness.

Wavework has brand ambassadors throughout the country pushing the app. It also has created a digital influence partnership program, and now has organizations New York, Boston, Washington, D.C., Chicago and San Francisco encouraging its use.

Gaffney feels the app can scale nationally — even globally — and the Wayne resident and New Jersey native said the New Jersey and New York markets are certainly getting more attention at the start.

And while sports and entertainment organizations and venues are potential partners — Gaffney recently pushed her product at the national convention for the Association of Luxury Suite Directors — she feels smaller events could be an even bigger push.

“Our immediate growth will be in the association, trade shows and conferences — the 100- to 500-person events,” she said. “As we continue to grow, I think we’ll have greater adaption to the larger sports and entertainment events.”

Regardless of the size or type of the event, Gaffney is confident Wavework has a fit because it helps facilitate the one need any business has: networking.

“In the world we live in today, there really is no separation of business and pleasure,” she said. “It’s all about engagement and making connections.

“At Wavework, our tagline is, ‘It’s not who you know; it’s who you don’t know.’”

E-mail to: tomb@njbiz.com
On Twitter: @tombergeron5

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Tom Bergeron

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