10 Years of Braindate: Uniting Live-Virtual Audiences for One Memorable Hybrid Event

Braindate Hybrid Event

To mark 10 years of Braindate, we hosted an intimate community-centered hybrid event. Here are our top takeaways on what made the experience a success.

The event, at a glance

Infographic: Braindate Hybrid Event
10 Years of Braindate: An intimate, community-centered hybrid experience for Braindate clients and partners.

Our founders Christine Renaud and Alexandre Spaeth invented Braindate in 2011. The idea behind the product was simple yet revolutionary: to reclaim knowledge-sharing conversation as the most powerful tool for learning. 

What followed was nothing short of incredible. People booked hundreds of braindates at cafes all over Montreal, making time in their busy schedules to meet up with total strangers, just so they could support each other in their learning journeys. 

Since 2011, our product has evolved. We now focus on partnering with events, communities, and organizations to empower their people to learn better and form deeper relationships via intentional conversations.

But what hasn’t changed is this: throughout its evolution, Braindate has always shone a light on the human desire to learn from and with our peers. It continues to wow us by showing us how often a simple conversation can sometimes be the start of something great. 

In 2021, we are celebrating 10 years of Braindate, an awesome decade of facilitating transformative peer learning conversations. To mark this milestone, we hosted 10 Years of Braindate, a hybrid event to celebrate all the people who have accompanied us on this journey to transform learning around the world. 

Braindate has always shone a light on the human desire to learn from and with our peers. It continues to wow us by showing us how often a simple conversation can sometimes be the start of something great. 

A one-of-a-kind hybrid gathering centered on reconnecting, learning, and joyful conversations.

We brought together our beloved clients, partners, and users for a Braindate-style celebration: a full day of energizing conversations and connection, where we could take a moment to reflect and share the biggest learnings from the past decade. We put our guests in the driver’s seat, giving them the ability to start their conversations, be it virtually or onsite, on topics they were most excited to talk about. 

Our people are spread out all over the world. We used the Braindate hybrid platform to bridge the gap and come together virtually and in-person at cafes in Montreal and Paris for one memorable celebration. 

What the hybrid attendee experience looked like:

When attendees logged into the Braindate Hybrid platform, they could indicate whether they were available to meet onsite in Montreal or Paris or participate virtually. This information was visible on their profiles and the participant list, making it easy for all attendees to know where others were tuning in from.

Hybrid Event Platform: Multi-location login feature
Braindate hybrid user journey: pick the location you’re participating from

Once on the platform, attendees could see all the discussions they could join and get inspired to start their own. Further, they could filter to see what braindates were happening virtually or onsite in Paris and Montreal. 

Through our event management dashboard, Braindate Organizer Space, organizers can easily personalize the schedule of onsite, virtual, and hybrid braindates to meet their needs.

Hybrid Event Platform: Multi-location calendar feature
Set the schedule for braindates at multiple locations with ease.

Taking advantage of this functionality, we set the schedule so that onsite attendees could not schedule their virtual and group braindates at the same time. This encouraged onsite participants to meet in person. Meanwhile, virtual-only attendees could schedule 1:1 and group braindates anytime during the event hours.

How we enabled three different kinds of connection experiences at our hybrid event:

1. Live one-on-one and group meetings

For the onsite experience, we transformed Cafe Pista in Montreal and Cafe Rollin in Paris into Braindate Lounges, providing the full hospitality experience Braindate is known for. Attendees who had marked their location as “onsite” could connect with others in-person one-on-one and group braindates.

Hybrid event example
Left: Onsite guest being greeted by a Braindate Learning Concierge at Cafe Pista, Montreal. Right: Our Head of Europe, Alina Maizel on a 1:1 braindate at Cafe Rollin, Paris.

When attendees arrived on site, they were greeted by our learning concierges, who checked them in for their braindate, introduced them to the people they were meeting, and helped them find other conversations to join.

2. Hybrid one-on-one and group meetings

To make sure there were no missed opportunities to connect, we ensured that our virtual and onsite guests could connect virtually on the Braindate platform. We created private spaces onsite in the cafes, where our attendees could use their laptops to go on virtual one-on-one and group braindates with those who were tuning in virtually.

Hybrid event examples
Hybrid braindates in action: Onsite participants connecting with virtual attendees at Cafe Pista, Montreal, and Cafe Rollin, Paris.

Additionally, all attendees had real-time access to our online learning concierges, who proactively reached out to them to provide technical support (if needed) and help them find the right people to connect with.

3. Virtual large group meetings

In 2021, we invented a brand new virtual large group (up to 20 people) meeting format, called fishbowl braindate. These are unique collaborative learning discussions where every user can participate in a way that suits them best—by actively participating as an on-screen speaker, jumping into the hot seat for two minutes, or watching off-screen and participating via chat.

2 Participants view
What going on a fishbowl braindate looks like.

Inspired by how our clients have used this feature, we used fishbowls to host highly interactive and informative group discussions where we could share upcoming product developments and our roadmap.

Ingredients for a successful hybrid experience

At the 10 Years of Braindate event, we created an intimate community-centered experience. Here are our top takeaways on what made the experience a success:

  • Flexible participation is empowering for attendees: Participants felt empowered by the flexibility that is offered in a hybrid solution. Knowing that they weren’t isolated as a virtual or onsite attendee made our guests feel like they were all a part of the same global celebration.
  • Good conversation, even if it takes place virtually, boosts overall engagement onsite: There was a positive attitude that spread when onsite participants would come out of a virtual meeting, inspired by having connected with people across the globe. This feeling of inspiration made everyone even more motivated to engage onsite.
  • Inclusivity of hybrid events is a win for the organizer and the attendees: Our clients, family, and friends are located all over the world, and knowing that we could allow everyone to join us was a great win for us. With our multi-location option, we were able to set up onsite hours both in Montreal and Paris, while still benefiting from the reach of having braindates be available virtually. What made the event truly inclusive was being able to connect virtual participants with the ones onsite, something that our guests really appreciated.

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