Balloon Makes Audience Participation at Events Better for Organizers and Attendees -- Finally

WHAT: Get the audience at live events more involved with moderated questions and comments, polls and surveys. Attendees can use Twitter, text messages and email to interact with those on stage. Event organizers can track engagement on the back end.

Balloon’s iPhone app -- which includes gaming elements like points for questions asked, leaderboards, etc. -- will debut in mid-July.

LAUNCHERS:  Andrei Vestemeanu (CEO), Romain David (marketing) and Guillaume Potier (CTO). Guillaume previously started a company that developed iPhone apps, first company for Andrei and Romain.

WHY: Passing around a mic during Q&A is inefficient (especially when someone hogs it). Old-fashioned keypad systems are expensive to rent and don’t work well. Plus event organizers don’t have tools to measure which audience members are most engaged and on which topics or with which speakers.

BACKSTORY: “My last year of studying I was taking part in more and more conferences, but I was hearing the same thing over and over again,” Andrei says. “The only part we enjoyed was the Q&A session, where the speaker was interacting with the audience.”

WHEN/WHERE: Sept. 2010/ Paris.

BUSINESS MODEL: By event. Basic package, which includes only moderated Q&A, is 190 euros ($270). The mid-level plan is 690 euros ($840). The high-end plan gives you all the tools and customization for 1490 euros ($2,115). Clients can also have a custom package (with a Balloon project manager on site), which costs between 3K and 7K euros ($4,260 and $9,940) per day according to Andrei.

FOCUS: Large events (100 to 3K people) in France and the U.S.

COMPETITION: For audience questions, Andrei says Twitter is their biggest competitor, and for polling the audience, SurveyMonkey.

STATS: 350 events to date: 250 in France, 70 in the U.S., 10 in Spain, 5 in Belgium, 4 in Switzerland, and 1 each in Australia, China, Germany and the United Kingdom.

CUSTOMERS: Tech companies like Microsoft, Google and Groupon as well as French corporations like L’Oreal and Total.

Many clients find Balloon when searching online for polling solutions. “We convince most of them to take the whole thing, not only do the polls,” says Andrei.

ON SOLUTIONS FOR THE EVENT INDUSTRY: “A lot of people think you have to make the most money,” Andrei says. “In a funny way, they don’t really understand the scalability problems and the fact that selling to the long tail is smarter than selling on a one-to-one basis.”

WHO BACKED IT:  Boot-strapped. With plenty of paying clients, Andrei says they are not in a hurry to raise money but are talking to VCs this summer.

TOTAL RAISED: Not applicable. Money they eventually raise will be used to open an office in the U.S.

NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 7 (including 2 interns)


Your control panel allows you to manage your basic set up, graphics and speakers’ access to Balloon.

From the main page you use during an event, you can view comments and questions from the audience. Use the red delete button to get rid of anything inappropriate or off-topic, use the blue pop-up button to display that comment or question on the big screen your audience is watching.

You can favorite a comment or question (for yourself) by clicking on the star to the right of the pop-up button; see all your favorites by clicking over to the “favorites” tab. The popular tab shows you which comments or questions have gotten the most audience votes.

When you “pop-up” a comment or question, this is what your audience will see on the big screen.

Create a poll by clicking on “poll” [above the tabs] and typing your question in the box. You have space for up to five answers and can choose how much time people have to respond. Hit the “send” button to display it to the audience.

After the event, you can review your data on everything from number of participants to how people asked questions and export it to Excel.

View engagement in chart form, choosing the time period (say from 2pm to 3pm) and the interval (every 10 minutes). Hover over a point to see the tweets that used the event’s hashtag during that time period.


1. Balloon’s pitch on “This Week in Startups” Paris Meetup episode (#131)

2. “Speaker Tips When Using A Live Stream, Backchannel And Face To Face Experience” [Velvet Chainsaw’s Midcourse Corrections blog, June 30, 2011 ]


Andrei Vestemeanu
Email: andrei at  balloonup dot com
Twitter: @avestemeanu

Romain David
Email: romain at  balloonup dot com
Twitter: @Romaind 

Guillaume Potier
Email: guillaume at  balloonup dot com
Twitter: @guillaumepotier