What does it take to organize great event? – talking to Ewa Jasińska – co-founder of Confidalia Events

Today I am talking with Ewa Jasińska, who owns Confidalia Events, which is an event management company, that helps to organize any type of event, Ewa and her business partner, Eliza organize events both, in the UK and abroad, mainly specialising in trips to Poland.

GRZEGORZ:  Hi Ewa!

EWA: Hello Grzegorz.

GRZEGORZ: Great to talk to you today. So, can you tell me in few sentences, few facts about Confidalia Events?

EWA: Confidalia Events, actually funny, you mentioned at the beginning, the description of our company. We are in the process of changing slightly, our target customers. Since we decided to we need to focus on a particular market and on particular customers. Both of our experience is within the professional associations and we would like to focus on organising the events for professional associations across Europe and we would like to use our multilingual skills and also know how, and cater knowledge from other countries, to be able to provide the best services for those professional associations. So, this is the aim.

GRZEGORZ: Ok. So, that’s your aim. You want to work with the associations and provide events to them. But I met you before, on one of these networking events in Leeds, and I remember, you and Eliza, told that you know five languages, which is your passion and also, you organise a lot of events already and you have organized mainly in Poland. Can you explain how does that work?

EWA: Yes, I probably would need to start from the very beginning, if you don’t mind?

GRZEGORZ: Sure

EWA: Ok, just to give you a little bit of background: Me and Eliza, and how we found each other here in the UK, and how we met etc. Basically, I studied languages, interpreting and translation, back in Poland at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan. And I first came over to England in 2004, and I got a contract to work for veterinary company in Leeds, to help them in their human resources department and mainly to assist them with their recruitment of  veterinarians from EU countries. So, this is how my story in England started and obviously since my specialization on languages, I started to work as freelance interpreter and translator alongside, mainly specializing for the legal and medical and business sectors. And when I came over here, I also met Eliza, it was through our common friend. Funny enough, we met in England, because in Poland, we live from each other, I think, thirty kilometers. So, we had to come to England to become friends. And then, we worked in the same veterinary company and within that veterinary company, we had an opportunity to work together and organize events for them, mainly conferences or corporate team building events and we discovered that first of all, it’s great fun. Secondly, we really enjoyed doing that. And thirdly, we both felt that we complemented each other greatly. That was extremely helpful when running the event on the day, where we actually read in our minds.

GRZEGORZ: Can I just stop here and ask you, how did you come with this idea. So, was the idea coming actually from the company, you worked for?

EWA: Yes. Yes, that’s true. I mean not to setup our own company, but to organize events. I first got involved, in organizing the first conference, I think back in 2004, for two hundred people, whole weekend event, and that’s how it started.

GRZEGORZ: So, what did you go about it? You had no experience in organizing events. So, how did you go about doing that?

EWA: Well, I did and I did back in Poland, when I was at the university I got involved in organizing hunting events for Spanish hunters. So, I already had some previous experience in regards to organization and event.

GRZEGORZ: What Spanish hunters?

EWA: Hunters?

GRZEGORZ: What is Spanish Hunters?

EWA: Spanish hunters. People who hunt animals like deers, “myśliwi”.

GRZEGORZ: Ok, I see. So, they are called Spanish hunters.

EWA: Spanish hunters in Poland and that’s how I actually got involved in the organization and you may wonder, you know, how to organize an event. You have to have some previous education and not really, you have to have the organization skills and you know, common sense on how to organize them.

GRZEGORZ: Yeah. So, the first event you organized in the UK. Your first event in UK, you organized for veterinary group?

EWA: That’s true.

GRZEGORZ: And you did that as a conference for two hundred people. So, what was your next step in your carrier?

EWA: Well, the next step, focusing  here on events, was since we had some experience with Eliza, organizing those conferences, we thought, Ok, there is a demand on the market for somebody to assist other companies to take the burden of their shoulders and actually to assist them to do all the dirty work for them. So, that they can appear at the event and enjoy it and not to be worried, to have somebody else to worry about the event and another problems, that may occur during the event, which they will do.

GRZEGORZ: So, what kind of burden we are talking about here?

EWA: For instance, anything to be the key point of contact. So, anybody going to a conference are contacting you, not the person that asked you to organize it. So, you are giving them, all the  information such as venue, travel information, also you find for them an appropriate venue, you assist them  with the speakers, because they may tell you, ok, we need speakers for this particular conference or for another and you just do that for them. You take this kind of burden from their shoulders and then you make sure that, everything is ready for them, for the event. And on the day of the event, you go and double, triple check everything and you, you are alongside the event, just making sure that everything runs smoothly, as it should be. So, basically it’s then the whole package. It may be also bespoke, because our first client that we had was University of Bristol and they were organizing scientific conference, back in 2007, and they just asked us to assist them with the administration of the event. So, with the booking, with being the point of contact, organizing the delegate parts, badges, with all of that, we actually didn’t even go to that event, but we organized a whole pre-coarse information.

GRZEGORZ: So, basically what you said already is that, your customers are people who want to organize a particular event but don’t want to be involved in the process of printing the badges, doing invitations and making sure that everybody is happy and this sorts of things.

EWA: Yes and responding to hundreds of e-mails, that normally you have from everybody, asking about anything.

GRZEGORZ: Vegetarian, options and… vegan options and whatever…

EWA: Oh, yes.

GRZEGORZ:  Interesting! So, you were doing this for, for your employer and then, how has it happened that  you went into your own business?

EWA: Well, Eliza and I said, we just called this is our passion, and we would like to start doing it. We were thinking about different ways to approach it. I remember we attended many different workshops on how to setup your own business. That was a lengthy process, when I now think about it. It wasn’t just, it didn’t happen overnight and I remember the number of times, we met and discussed, maybe we should do this, maybe that. I remember that different ideas were coming to our mind, for instance to organize weddings, or to organize these hunting events, that I use to in Poland. So, there were really, lots of ideas, lots of brainstorming and to be honest with you, we are just now at the position, where we already clear at what we are good at, and what we want to do, because before, the message was not clear, and we said that we can organize any type of events. Since we enjoy organizing events, we want to organize any type, but we were not very competitive. Of course on the market, there are hundreds of event management companies, which were bigger and they have many more years of expertise, so we were looking for our unique selling point, really. And I remember, we also organized some football trips, to Poland. And, I think, I mentioned this event that we made in November, that we felt, 2012 great opportunity, Poland is co-hosting Euro. So, we used that, to send some English footballers to Poland, which was great experience, we really enjoyed doing that. We are still doing it, but, it’s more as a hobby part of our event’s company, is not good, we are going to focus on. So, over the years, we organize various  things we will help friends to organize either stag do’s, hen do’s, but now we get to the point, that we are clear, what we want to do and that we are actually better, when it comes to our competition, because we have got some skills that they don’t have and some knowledge that they don’t have.

GRZEGORZ: So, what is your USP? If I may ask.

EWA: Ok, of course you may ask. Well our value is the fact that, we are more multilingual and between each other, we have got quite a good educational background. I mentioned about mine, but Eliza is actually tourism, hotel industry. So, she could be qualified better for our company and also we have got an expertise, we already organize study tours to countries such as Serbia, Macedonia, Ukraine, Spain, Croatia. So, we know how to organize events abroad, and that’s why we feel, we are better than another competitor on the English market, that doesn’t possess these skills. So, I think that’s how we are better than other event management companies.

GRZEGORZ: Yeah, I have couple of questions already. What I am interested is that, you said that you know how to do the, how to organize the events in EU countries and you mentioned a couple of them and I wonder, why your British customer would love to, I mean would choose to, go abroad for the event?

EWA: It’s all coming back to the professional associations, because if we talk about them, they are normally international associations or association based in the UK, that would like to bond with their colleagues, doing the same professions in the other country. So, when I mention all those countries, which is now coming back to the veterinary industry and there is a particular association, it is called Veterinary Public Health Association and it’s called to Veterinarians working in the UK. And basically, every year, they are planning a study tour to meet their colleague veterinarians in another country, so for them it is a great opportunity to exchange their ideas, their experience and so, that’s basically is working for any professions, that want to meet with their colleagues who are abroad.

GRZEGORZ: Yeah, that makes sense now. Yeah.

EWA: Good

GRZEGORZ: Yeah, and you also said that you, we know that you can speak different languages, can you just name these languages?

EWA: Well, I do interprete for Polish, English and Spanish. I also do speak some German and French at the moment, they are quite rusty, I haven’t practice them in years. And Eliza’s strong one obviously is Russian.

GRZEGORZ: So, it’s five between you two. Is that right?

EWA: Yes

Grzegorz: Including Polish and English.

EWA: Yes.

GRZEGORZ: Cool. And when you organize these events abroad, do you use these skills? Or is it mainly done in English?

EWA: Depends, which country for instance, the forthcoming  even with got in April is in Malaga in Spain. And I know, Eliza to organize hotel, she used English. I think most of their hotels in their southern coast of Spain, they do speak English, but to organize some further excursions and some other things, I use my Spanish skills to organize, like the transport, those football trips and I think, because you speak their language and you understand their culture, I think that’s how you can negotiate better, right with them as well. And they don’t treat just as a tourist coming over to their country, they almost treat you like, I won’t say one of them, but like somebody who is trying to express in their own language.

GRZEGORZ: So, they won’t rip you off, straightaway?

EWA: Yeah, I hope so.

GRZEGORZ: Sure. So, Ewa do you remember your first customer, when you were actually, when you setup the business together and do you remember the first one coming to your doors or knocking your doors or emailing you?

EWA: Yes, definitely. Definitely, I do. When you say, when you setup the business, do you mean, when we setup the company officially, because obviously we have been organizing events for years, but we just setup it officially, few years ago. So, which one do you mean?

GRZEGORZ: Because you said, you were working for your employer first, for veterinary group, and you were organizing events for them. So, I understand you were paid by your employer, was that correct?

EWA: Absolutely

GRZEGORZ: And then you setup your business, and you were completely relying just on yourself, on your own. So, and then you had the first customer, which was maybe the same sort of customer, you had previously, or maybe completely different, but then you were just responsible for making, for making sure that everything is done properly and then you get paid on time and you know, the customer is happy. So, how was that experience?

EWA: Well, to be honest with you, I mentioned that customer. Because the first customer, that came knocking on our door, was the University of Bristol and we were referred within that veterinary association that I referred to. There was a particular person, that I have been working a lot, and when University of Bristol was looking for somebody to assist them, my name came, came to their minds. So, they have recommended me to University of Bristol. So, our first customer, really like out of that, as you mentioned, not within that employer was University of Bristol and that was a really nice and pleasant experience, I must say. Perhaps, something that we would have done different now, is to request there, some kind of deposit or payment before, you know, we started. But obviously we were very young, we were learning. Luckily enough, they paid us on time. So, there was no problem with that, but this, this is something we wouldn’t particularly do at the moment. And yes, that was an easy event as well, because we didn’t really had to do that much that was very bespoke. They asked for a particular things, that we delivered, that was a very pleasant one and then the next one that we have done completely, completely on our own was this football trip to Poland, it was in April, 2012. And that was a very good experience, because we have never organized a football trip before. So, we had to organize some friendly football matches and also, you know, manage the group of, I think of thirty five people, half of them were junior footballers. So, managed that and create an agenda for them. Made sure that they also use their time and sight see something in Poznan. So, that was a full trip that we had to be in charge of.

GRZEGORZ: So, these were, I understand junior British supporters, who went to Poznan?

EWA: That was British junior footballers.

GRZEGORZ: Ok

EWA: Who went to Poznan.

GRZEGORZ: Ok

EWA: Actually close to Poznan, to Oplenica to hotel where Ronaldo was staying, during the Euro, 2012. And the aim for that particular football club is to again to meet with their colleagues in another country and to play some friendly matches with them.

GRZEGORZ: That must be cool

EWA: That was really nice

GRZEGORZ: Yeah. So, going back to your business, so, you have your first client, then you organized the event for the footballers. Now, how do you scale your business, in terms of clients, how did you go about that?

EWA: Well, maybe I will tell you, not the number of clients, because we scaled it in number of events per year.

GRZEGORZ: Yeah

EWA: Because, there is also at the moment a limit of what we can do, obviously as you know, I am involved still in interpreting, Eliza also has some other things on her agenda. She is actually, next week she will become a mum, so, we have to see what we are able to do and we prefer to do less events, but do them very well. That’s the objective. I would say, we organize twenty – twenty five events per year. That’s more or less the number.

GRZEGORZ: That’s a lot. That sounds like, every two weeks, you have an event going!

EWA: However, sometimes there are very tiny events. I mean, there would be a Saturday induction course, or there will be bigger events such as, such as big conference or corporate team do. As I mentioned, we wish to rebrand and just focus on the professional associations.

GRZEGORZ: So, that’s your plan for the future?

EWA: That’s one plan and the second plan is that, that’s something probably you would find interesting. Just doing a degree in conference interpreting and the idea for the future is to organize conferences on the international levels, where we also provide multilingual facilities. I mean, we also, apart from providing our services, we also provide the technical equipment and a team of trained interpreters, to provide conference interpreting, so that’s the future plan, probably we are talking here about within two years’ time.

GRZEGORZ: Very interesting that. That sounds more serious!

EWA: That’s indeed!

GRZEGORZ: You have guests from European Union. I don’t know! Main buildings in Brussel.

EWA: Yes, yes that’s the idea, to get it internationally. Yes

GRZEGORZ: That’s good. Can you look at your business from a different perspective now and just try to sort of separate and see, what is actually working for your business  now? What does work very well?

EWA: I think the recommendations, they do work very well. And since we have the message clear in our minds, as to what we want to do, that all started to become one nice puzzle but definitely, the recommendation, if your client is satisfied with your services, they will talk about it, they will recommend you or if they know somebody needs, someone to organize the day events, they will recommend you, they will do it from their own will. You don’t even have to ask them for that, and secondly we had a meeting with our coach, as we decided we need somebody actually give us some guidance, as to which direction to go to, and something that we discovered very important is, if you are in front of the right person. So, instead of sending hundred brochures or letters to various companies or association, just try to approach those companies directly or find a person, that could introduce you to them or find a possibility to talk to them basically. That’s I think is the main thing.

GRZEGORZ: So, you mentioned referrals, and basically, I would say networking.

EWA: Yes, networking, that’s our good one as well, and we still struggle with that, because you need time to do the networking, but we think, this is essential, when you have got your own business.

GRZEGORZ: That’s right. So, I am sure, you would be happy to being contacted by the people, who would be interested to talking to you and not just to use your services, but maybe there will be someone in the audience, who would like you as to put any question about your business, or how did you get started or maybe just get some advice from you, would you be interested?

EWA: Ofcourse, definitely. If I can assist anyone with their business, I would be more than happy, maybe they will not make the same mistakes, I made or make their journey shorter to achieve a success. That’s definitely.

GRZEGORZ: Sure, so where we can find your details, and can you tell us your website, and how do we find you?

EWA: Well, first of all, if you want to read a little bit more about myself, then I invite you to my Linkedin profile, where I included all my experience and all the details are there. Confidalia events, our website is just www.confidaliaevents.com, and so feel free to check our website. However, as I mentioned we are just rebranding, so it will look slightly different in few weeks time.

GRZEGORZ: Sure. But the address will stay the same

EWA: Yes, that’s correct.

GRZEGORZ: Ok, how was Eliza doing?

EWA: She is very well. As I mentioned, she is expecting to be mummy next week, and although she officially stopped working, she is still very involved in all the activities and well, she doesn’t look like she is going to give birth next week. She is full of energy.

GRZEGORZ: That’s good. That’s what usually happens before giving birth.

EWA: I will tell her that.

GRZEGORZ: So, yeah. So, pass, pass my regards to her, when you meet her, and I hope she will be doing fine. Is that her first baby, by the way?

EWA: Yes, it is

GRZEGORZ: Ok, and do you have any?

EWA: Not yet

GRZEGORZ: So you will be next in the queue

EWA: Hopefully

GRZEGORZ: Hopefully, good. Ewa, thank you very much for talking to us today and sharing so much valuable information about your business and how you do things. It was really, really good, and I hope you, our audience will get very interesting information, they will find it useful and they will actually not hesitate to contact with other people, like yourself if they need to. If they are struck or need some help. So, thank you very much, Ewa

EWA:  Thank you very much.