From a booming business to a harsh new reality
overnight. It was adapt or die.– Beth Ingram
ION Business Strategies was founded in 2013 by Beth Ingham and Daniel Navorro, who had previously worked together on nationwide health education campaigns.
By joining forces, they were able to combine their vital skill sets: Beth’s experience of management gained from years of running large scale company projects and Daniel’s knowledge and experience gained from working in the public health sector, which included 27 years as the deputy director for Colorado Health Education Centre.
Naturally, given their talents and expertise, the agency was highly successful. ION focused on the area of medical education and other education training conferences. Here are some of the events they organized prior to the pandemic.
National AHEC Organization biennial conference in Denver-2008, Las Vegas 2010, San Antonio, 2012
Engaging Communities in Education and Research Statewide Conference in Vail, Colorado; 2007-2012;
Denver City Open, 2014-2016;
Colorado Department of Human Resources, Office of Economic Security, Professional Development Academy (Statewide) Vail, Colorado; 2017, 2019
However, in 2020 as we all know Covid struck, and like many thousands of businesses, ION found itself in a dire position. Beth described the devastation as follows:
Conferences shifted to virtual platforms or were canceled entirely. The loss of in-person meetings with prospective and current clients changed almost overnight. It’s difficult to grow your business in a totally virtual environment.
From a booming business to a harsh new reality overnight. It was adapt or die.-Beth Ingram
They had to adapt and do so quickly. Initially, like other hundreds of event agencies and businesses, they moved to Zoom. And while it worked for a while, soon enough they started noticing high cancellations and drop-off rates.
They also noted more and more people opting to switch off their videos, either so that they could multitask or just take a step back from the intensity of being on camera for so long. The infamous ‘Zoom fatigue’ had started to set in. However, their clients still needed the long conference format, and ways to keep the audience engaged were a must.
It was based on this feedback and at their clients’ suggestions to look at platforms with 2D or 3D avatars that ION started an extensive search to find solutions to solve their clients’ needs.
This turned out not to be a simple task, especially since the majority of ION’s customers are not-for-profits and have strict requirements. Beth had to find a platform that:
Provided features to keep audiences engaged over long periods
The conferences in person were highly interactive. It was essential to her clients that they be accommodated virtually too, as far as possible
Security, the integrity of the hardware and software used to be maintained
After assessing and speaking with numerous platform providers, Beth and her team decided to go with MootUp. She explained her choice, again in her own words:
MootUp used a dynamic avatar vs a static avatar
In MootUp, you actually move your avatar just as in simulation software
MootUp also had an exhibit hall that allows you to move from booth to booth and get 360-degree views
We liked other platforms and thought another one actually may be slightly easier to use for participants, however, we ultimately decided that participants would enjoy MootUp’s interactive features more
Not needing to download was also a positive feature
The opportunity to submit a proposal for two large health conferences for the Colorado Department of Health came up at this time.
After their first discussion withMootUp’s customer service team, they decided that the platform was perfect and would be part of their bid.
MootUp was their go-to choice not only because of the platform’s unique features and considerable technical capabilities which matched their clients’ high standards. But also because it was clear that MootUp was committed and would provide ION with any assistance they needed. This was especially reassuring because the ION team was in Beth’s own words ‘non-techie’.
MootUp went above and beyond to help educate our team about the 3D platform and provide exceptional features and creative support beyond our expectations.
Customer support by MootUp staff was phenomenal. It was probably the best tech support ION has received.
All questions and requests for help in building the worlds and scenes were answered promptly.-Beth Ingram
The user-friendliness of the platform and MootUps assistance meant within a relatively short space of time ION created ‘virtual worlds’ for both events on the platform that matched their clients’ complex needs.
There were also some delight factors added such as a wellness hub where guests could come to unwind with guided meditation and live yoga sessions periodically streamed into the space.
The wellness hub was a big hit with many attendees mentioning how much they enjoyed it as part of the event feedback.
The Colorado Department of Health was very pleased with both events.
This was a direct reflection of the overwhelmingly positive nature of attendee feedback. Many remarked on how it felt like a ‘live experience’ and how much they enjoyed the opportunity to network organically with other participants.
There were notes on how much fun it was to explore the ‘world’ and the user-friendliness of the platform. There were also comments on how unexpected but delightful the wellness hub was.
Here are just a few remarks from the event organizer ION
Speakers enjoyed seeing the avatars and using the chat feature.
We are able to set up 1:1 and 1:5 trainings where both the speaker and participant(s) used media boards to share the faces/screens.
Pre-Registered Participants received training kits in the mail prior to the event. This unique training experience received positive feedback from both the speaker and participant. This virtual event was fun! -Beth Ingram
MootUp and ION had exceeded all expectations. ION’s tenacity and determination meant that they were able to innovate and by doing so overcome an adverse situation and thrive.