Jay Tokosch, vice president of business development for Core-apps Community Brands, got his start in the trade show industry as the director of sales for NEC in 1999. After attending the Consumer Electronics Show one year, he discovered a technological need the industry was missing and began working on an app to transform the industry. Thus, Core-apps was born in March 2009. Ten years later, Tokosch reflects on the growth of Core-apps and introduces us to his new company, NoteAffect.
“There’s gotta be an app,” says Tokosch.
These five words sparked the grand idea to create an application for trade shows and events. Little did he know this simple thought would generate into Core-apps being the No. 1 mobile software company for the events and trade show industry and service more than 50% of the top 250 trade shows (as ranked by TSNN).
In the mid-2000s, Tokosch and his business partner Jesse Snipper, senior director of product for Community Brands, attended CES. As they wandered around the massive trade show floor, they had difficulty locating the different vendors using the paper map, and they wondered if the event had an app. Then the light bulb went off for them as they discovered a new need the events industry was missing and began designing an app using their knowledge of trade shows and events.
“The big thing for me was that I wanted a map I could look at,” said Tokosch. “I wanted something that could route me around from booth to booth.”
With that in mind, they created Follow Me, the flagship app and the building block that propelled the company into the success it is today. When Follow Me was introduced to the market, it was a replacement for programs guides and exhibitor directory—almost like a concierge service but in app form. Attendees could keep track of schedules and find vendors at the touch of their fingers—it was groundbreaking.
Ten years later, Core-apps has expanded its list of products beyond Follow Me—though the app now has more than 300 features. The company has two other award-winning events apps—EventLink+ and EventLink— that are 100% configurable like Follow Me as well as GoExpo event management, beacons, kiosks, Showcase XD and special features like audio tours and gamification.
“If someone comes to us with an idea, we always want to accept it and formulate it to fit more than one group, which has worked well for us and our customers,” he said.
Take, for example, a digitize project the company recently worked on for a client. Everything is digital now, so when a client wanted to digitize and streamline their press bins in their pressroom, Core-apps began working with the client using its GoExpo system, a unique dashboard personalized to attendee and exhibitor.
What started as a request to help one client manage content, flourished into a feature many of its clients can implement into their events. This new process allows Core-apps to collect materials directly from exhibitors; the press has access to all materials and can search for the material they need to download; and clients can make meetings with exhibitors directly through GoExpo—making everyone’s job easier.
Core-apps showcased the new feature at the National Shooting Sports Foundation show to rave reviews.
Tokosch credits his team for why Core-apps has built a base of 800 clients that include Microsoft, PCMA, Informa and the Special Olympics. But while most software companies are focused on the features and functions, Core-apps attention to detail and client interaction is why it has a high retention rate, he said.
“I think the real key has been the people that work with you at Core-apps,” he says. “They are knowledgeable about the industry; they come from the industry; they’re a part of the industry, and I think that’s what sets us apart from our competitors.”
Also being able to work from home doesn’t hurt the company morale. Since it’s inception, Core-apps has been 100% virtual, and this unconventional set up has helped the company rather than hinder it. They stay connected using Skype, Slack, Redmine and Bonusly.