Accelerator alum, KiwiLive founder forms partnership with Fern to take app to the next level

Live-event interaction technology KiwiLive is expanding into the convention industry through a new relationship with Fern Exposition & Event Services.
“I’ve been interested in the tradeshow market for awhile,” said Jeff Mason, KiwiLive founder and CEO. “Fern has such an extensive network and experience, and it’s exciting to be working together.”
KiwiLive started two years ago as a quick and easy solution to exchanging contact information and presentations at meetings. The application allows users to connect with other attendees and access speaker information by entering a keyword on the KiwiLive website. There is no app to download or software to install.
“The name came from a simple idea: through a keyword we connect, key-we became Kiwi,” Mason said.
Recruited to Cincinnati after college by an engineering firm, Mason eventually left his job to work on KiwiLive full-time, quickly plugging into the entrepreneurial community here.
“I went to a Startup Weekend at UpTech, which was my first experience at what it’s like to really run a startup,” he said. “I started to meet people involved in the startup scene, joined Cintrifuse, and plugged into the UnPolished movement at Crossroads.”
KiwiLive debuted at UnPolished's first Demo Day. Mason continued to work with other events, particularly in the startup community, to refine and develop the KiwiLive platform. Based on responses from speakers and organizers, new features like live polling and feedback were added. Ready to grow KiwiLive further, Mason joined UpTech's fourth cohort last fall.
“Accelerator programs often focus on ideas or early stages of a product, so I was a little worried about being pushed to totally rebrand and create something new,” Mason said. “But UpTech adapted to the level of each participant. Their ability to provide support and infrastructure, to push me forward, was critical.”
UpTech’s Demo Day is where KiwiLive connected with Fern. It took several months of discussions before last week’s announcement that, in addition to their financial commitment to KiwiLive, Mason will take on the role of director of customer technology innovation for Fern.
“This partnership is a lot deeper than just an investment,” Mason said. “Fern wants to be an innovation and technology leader in the tradeshow industry. KiwiLive services fit really well with their existing platforms and will work alongside them as another offering for their clients.”
KiwiLive will continue to serve its existing clients and core audience of seminars, speakers and presenters while working with Fern on the tradeshow marketplace, including developing tools for multi-tracked events where participants change sessions and speakers. Mason also plans to refine the look and feel of the application, creating an ease of use to make KiwiLive accessible and easy for meeting and event planners to set up, even at the last minute.
“This is a great opportunity to leverage Fern’s expertise at large events and my startup experience,” Mason said. “We’ll offer a unique experience that maximizes the value for both event organizers and attendees.”

Read more articles by Julie Carpenter.

Julie Carpenter has a background in cultural heritage tourism, museums, and nonprofit organizations. She's the Executive Director of AIA Cincinnati.  
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