Sarah Shewey is a pioneer woman of the experience economy. She is the Founder & CEO of Happily, a platform that rapidly assembles experiences for the fastest growing brands in the world with the largest network of freelance event producers. She is also the co-founder of TEDActive, the founder of EXP, a co-founder of The Margin, and the board president of dublab. An environmentalist, Sarah has spoken about the importance of sustainable event practices on NPR and publications around the world. She also co-invented the world’s first underwater projector.
Stay connected with Sarah Shewey on Linkedin.
Tell us about you.
I got into events because I was the super fan of Weezer. They dropped off the face of the earth and there was rumors Weezer was coming back. I organized online in the Weezer fan forum, a Weezer after party for their first concert. I’m an over achiever so I got yahoo to sponsor and we brought in fans and randomly Sofia Coppola showed up. I rented a venue, it was a legit thing. They got word and apologized they couldn’t make it. After I graduated college I went across the country and I moved to Boston. I fell into a job as a freelance event coordinator. That became Boston’s best party of the year. I knew I was an entrepreneur but I didn’t know what industry or product I would build. After those two experiences I started to take the events industry seriously.
Your main thing is Happily, what is it?
It is a lot of things, it is really a place where anyone can find freelance event experts. We specialize in producers, coordinators, assistants. There are over 50,000 in our network. It’s like air b n b for events. It’s my full time job.
How does your process work?
You create an event and then you create multiple gigs or jobs. Then we calculate the cost. Then we surface all of the people that are local in the area. You can see all the profiles and you can request an interview and hire them through there. You can pay them through there and invoice them.
Who is on this?
Right now our focus is planners, we are starting first with production managers and people that are organizing. We get a lot of requests for example of do you know people that know VR? Technical teams and freelancers is on our roadmap to bring to the platform.
What was the fact that you dropped before we started recording?
Sustainability, it’s really important, if not the most important area of innovation in the events space. It’s important because events are the 2nd most wasteful industry on the planet, after construction. When you add sporting events and concerts, you’re building all this stuff and throwing it out. We know how much plastic and crap is out there. I think that for me, once I found that out, it was really important for me to take a look at the entire supply chain and process, and how can we reduce waste and get ourselves off this horrible list of offenders?
How do we do it?
It’s crazy how small things can make a huge impact. For instance, take meat off your menu or reducing it by half, it can save millions of gallons of water on a 100 person event. Beef in particular. Create opportunities for people to jump in on a live stream instead of jumping on a plane to get to an event. Obviously an in person interaction has it’s own special brand of magic, but live stream allows people to hear information and create accessibility around the world. It also reduces carbon foot print.
You are co – founder of the margin, tell us about that.
It makes space for people of color at gatherings. I started it with a friend of mine and we met at a women’s conference in the Bay Area and we were the only people of color there. We started to talk about behind the gender conversation there still are not safe spaces for people of color when you are feeling like the other. It’s hard to say hello and make friends.
What are other things you want people to know?
Just know about happily and the platform. I really am an event nerd and rat. The last few years I’ve been on a technology kick and it’s been a wild journey that keeps improving and getting better. We’d like people to beta test and give us feedback. We are so offline so it’s been cool to share those things with people in our space.
Superpower: Communicating to people nonverbally
Twitter:The Meeting Minds