Connecting Through PlanningPod: An Interview with Jeff Kear

Written by Leah Layzell

Jeff Kear of Planning Pod

We started our company in 2007. Before we built Planning Pod, our first product was an application for wedding planners. We had hundreds of great customers and learned so much from the experience. However, we kept getting requests for an online event management software app that was simple and straightforward like our previous product but could plan any kind of event. So we built an entirely new online app for event planners – Planning Pod – and released it earlier in 2013.


2. How did you come up with the ‘name’ and concept – what’s the story behind the name?

Ahhh, the name. We brainstormed this for weeks, and nothing quite fit. They were either too long, too abstract, or just kinda lame. We wanted the word “Planning” in it (because our software is for planning events and for event planners), and one day we thought of the word “Pod” because a pod contains lots of things, and our online app has 24+ tools at our last count. It’s short, catchy, and has alliteration. So Planning Pod fits what our app is and does perfectly.

3. What is your “big innovation?” What’s the coolest features of your tech?

We have two big innovations:

#1 – Convenience. Our tool is the final answer for people tired of juggling spreadsheets, documents, and dozens of single-task apps. Planning Pod pulls together the most important tools for planning an event and managing tasks, clients and co-workers into one convenient place.

#2 – Simplicity. You wouldn’t think simplicity is an innovation until you’ve looked at all the complicated, sometimes clunky enterprise event management software apps out there. We built Planning Pod so anyone – from computer novices to techie geeks – will be jamming on it within an hour. The tools are simple yet flexible. Everything is easy to navigate, which makes it quick to find your information.


4. How does your technology change the game for event professionals?

It finally gives event planners the tools that will simplify their work lives instead of adding another layer of complexity to them. But you shouldn’t take my word for it. We offer a free trial so you can see for yourself how much time it will save you.

5. Is it possible to measure ROI on your product?

Our product doesn’t have a built-in “ROI Meter” (interesting idea for later versions, though), but we have customers who will attest that after just a week or two using our software they saved so much time that it had already paid for itself for a year.

6. What do your best customers love about you?

Planning Pod saves them time. It keeps them organized. It integrates very well into the way they work. It lets them easily stay connected with their clients and team members. And it makes them look uber-professional.

7. What industry trends and shifts are you following that you think are important?

We are following two trends right now that we think will change the events industry. One is how it is becoming more automated and how event planners are adapting quickly to new tools to help them plan. Things are changing very fast from a technology aspect, which is why we are turning out new features for our event management software about every 6 weeks. The second is how versatile event planners have become during and since the recession. They have expanded their offerings and capabilities, and anyone who serves them needs to be aware of this and offer products that can expand and grow with them.


8. Any lessons learned from the trenches?

Hundreds, but one biggie sticks out. This big lesson was that we need to give customers a way to talk to us… literally. For a while we didn’t have a sales and support phone number – we are a small (but capable) shop and just had email support – but once we created a toll-free number, we got such great feedback and input from our customers that I can’t imagine not having it. Chatting with your customers is sooooo important, both from a customer service and from a feedback-loop perspective.

9. Have to ask: What’s your favorite app? [Not your own]

Great question. I love online apps. My current favorites are:

  • Mad Mimi (awesomely simple bulk email service)
  • SendGrid (transactional email service … perfect for companies like mine that send out thousands of transactional or app-related email alerts every day … and they are based in Denver, as are we)
  • HootSuite (best app for managing all major social media accounts)
  • ShortStack (great for customizing Facebook pages)
  • 1Password (unbelievably good at organizing all your passwords and logins so you can log into Web sites with a single click)

Featured image from Jisc infoNet on Flickr. 

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Leah Layzell

Project & Directory Manager at The Meeting Pool
Leah is a designer and digital specialist based in Essex, United Kingdom, She specializes in assisting small to medium-sized enterprises with their technical support, design, projects and digital implementation so that they can run their business with ease.