The Guest – Samantha Mountford, CTO at Feast It
Samantha Mountford has decades of experience in the IT industry and has led software teams within various companies. She is currently the CTO at Feast It, the UK’s leading event booking platform, where you can book the perfect suppliers for your wedding, private party, festival, or work event.
The verdict is out. Most people have had enough of Zoom events and want to get back to in-person events where they can interact with their friends or colleagues in a meaningful way. The events industry, which suffered during Covid lockdowns, is predicted to make a huge comeback, unsurprisingly, large amounts of events and festivals have already been postponed to future dates to be held in person again.
What is the role of technology in making these events a reality? And what solutions does it offer to event planners when it comes to choosing providers and saving time?
Some of the topics covered include:
- Covid and the rise of online events.
- The trends in online events vs real-life events.
- The technologies behind big scale events.
- How software can speed up event planning.
I’d love to ask you about Feast It; what your company does, the mission you guys have and your part within that?
Feast It is an event planning platform, and the key focus is on building an operating system to power better events globally, which means events at any scale. So if you’re planning a wedding, a corporate event, or a birthday party, we want the process to be easy and enjoyable with the Feast It platform. Also, if you’re putting on your first festival, we want to be the place where you can come and learn how to do that. We want to connect you with amazing suppliers to make that event a success. On the supplier side, we want to make it really easy for them to run their business. […] We just want to make that process of connecting with the customers really easy and streamlined. So, I’m the CTO, and I’ve been with Feast It for over a year now and I head up the engineering team. I work really closely with the product director, and our product and engineering teams deliver the product roadmap. So if the product team decides what we’re going to deliver in the next year, it’s my job to work out how we deliver that. And together it’s our job to make sure that we build a product-focused department of developers who are passionate about building scalable stuff and delivering value to our customers.
Could I ask you about the technology challenges that you’re facing?
I think a lot of the complications come from the fact that we’re building two distinct sets of product features, one for customers who are event planning, and then the other for event suppliers. Alongside that, there are loads of shared services that connect them together, and it just has to be super scalable. It’s got to be scalable in many ways; we’ve got to scale into new verticals and territories as we grow the business, and also take more volume by matchmaking more events and more suppliers. I guess that’s an ongoing challenge for us, but the more we scale, the longer that complication continues. I think that in the future, we just need to make sure that we’re building a scalable code basis on a scalable and available tech stack. That’s going to be a really high priority for us.
Another thing that’s really important for us now as we grow – we were 30 people when I joined the team, and now we’re 60 – is to make sure that we continue to be a data-driven company. So, maintaining a solid data stack that everyone in the business can draw insights from is something that we’re always thinking about. […]
Speaking about customers and service providers, it’s been a pretty rocky few years for folks in the hospitality space, what’s your sense of how the environment is now?
It’s definitely true that a lot of suppliers that we were working with before the pandemic have now switched into different careers, or are doing something completely different. But there are a lot of suppliers who continued to work virtually throughout the lockdowns, and a lot of suppliers who have weathered the storm are ready to get back to it, really. And I think with the promise of the industry really returning with a bang, we’ll also be bringing the Feast It platform to a whole new wave of event suppliers.
We’ve got loads of events that were rescheduled a few times and are now scheduled to happen this year or next year. Our community team spent a lot of time in the past few months just connecting with our suppliers and making sure they’re ready to pick up where they left off. So yeah, I think that we are as ready as we will be to get back to it now. […]
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