Stephane Doutriaux is not only the father to five boys, all with high ambitions to become innovators themselves, he also is the CEO and founder of Poken, a cloud-based event management platform for creating an engaging event experience. Actively involved in events and conferences, Stephane recognized a key problem: People connect at events — they collect leaflets and catalogues, attend sessions, meet people and exchange business cards. As soon as they return to their hotel rooms, most of this paper material ends up in the trash. Stephane created a more sustainable solution for this problem with Poken.
NXP: How did you come up with your business idea?
”Touch to collect“ has been our focus since 2007, identifying the opportunity that exists in any large gathering where people may want to exchange information ”with a touch,” such as swap business cards, capture documents from an exhibitor, check into a conference session and obtain slide decks afterwards. Knowing this space inside-out, we knew that some people may use their mobile phone to ”tap to collect.“ But most people would not for many reasons: They don’t have the right app installed, there is no incentive to install yet another event app, the smartphone’s battery is low, they are not fully aware of the practical use of NFC in smartphones, etc.. Poken as a standalone ”interactive USB stick“ or a ”smart badge“ has become a tool that allows everyone to be included in the digital exchange experience during an event.
NXP: Tell us how Poken uses NFC.
Our application is a combination of hardware, which consists of an interactive, NFC-reading USB stick, or a smart badge with a simple NFC inlay, and an event mobile app, or a web-based configurable set of event tools. Our product suite has been used by over 28,000 exhibitors. Regardless of the technical prowess of the event organizer, Poken lets them quickly deploy an online registration and issue smart badges with NFC-enabled credentials or a Poken interactive USB stick to all participants. The experience can also include a full-featured event lead-generation app for exhibitors, access control, micro-payments for event-related purchases such as coffee, lunch and prizes) as well as gamification.
A key piece of our hardware products are our “Touchpoints”: 4cmx4cm NFC readers that we deploy throughout an event on exhibitors’ booths.
NXP: How do you see NFC and applications like yours evolving over the longer term?
Our application will continue evolving as the market becomes increasingly familiar with contactless services.
The hardware behind Poken is a USB stick device. As NFC becomes more ubiquitously enabled across all kinds of devices, we want everyone who has a smartphone to experience Poken. Ultimately, this will add even more convenience and will cut costs down for conference organizers as well.
NXP: If you weren’t in your current job, what would you do instead?
Probably spend a lot more time taking care of my five boys – teaching them to be great little creative engineers, hackers, and Inventors.
NXP: We look forward to the next generation of innovators. Thanks for taking time to talk to us.