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Breakout Technologies’ founders were already industry veterans when they established the company in North Carolina, USA in 2020. Brian Leone had been making software solutions for association meetings since 2009. He is the creator of the LaunchPad presentation management system and has handled hundreds of thousands of presentations at conferences of all kinds. Robert Woods had worked in the event industry for 18 years before starting his own AV company in 2014. April Dela Vega used to work in different membership associations and had her fair share of experience working at events as well. So when clients started asking all three partners for digital solutions for associations’ events during the Covid-19 Pandemic, they decided to work together and create a company that would solve these problems.
Eventually, Breakout Technologies got in touch with App Masters to develop these softwares solutions through a mutual friend. There were some initial concerns about how a software development company was going to grasp the complexity of their industry however, these concerns were quickly dissolved after the first few deliveries, said Robert Woods Breakout Technologies COO. “It's hard enough for us to explain live events and what we do to our friends and family. So there was definitely a concern of how are we gonna convey this industry and what we're actually trying to do within it to somebody in another country. However, those fears were resolved very quickly because not only did App Masters understand our industry and what we're trying to achieve, but they would present solutions to problems that we hadn't even thought of yet. They were getting ahead and anticipating future needs based on their understanding of our industry. And that was really impressive”, told Robert.
The Breakout platform is the company’s main product and in simple lines it is an application built to attend to the needs of scientific conferences and events, especially when it comes to allowing attendees to participate to events remotely through digital means. This software offers live streaming and recording solutions as well as an on-demand video repository where presentations can be watched from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. These solutions are seamlessly integrated into one intuitive and user-friendly interface that allows members to navigate through recorded sessions, watch live presentations, host Q&As, connect with participants, browse uploaded content, and much more.
To have access to the content provided by a convention, participants first need to log in to the platform which uses Auth0 authentication services. Associations that have their own authentication services can have it integrated with Breakout without needing to create all new users for an event. Auth0 also allows for a quick sign-up for new users using Google accounts. Overall, this service integration allows for more efficient user management for organizers.
Another excellent integration Breakout has for organizers is connecting meetings’ schedules with the application. Many organizations have their own system for organizing programs for events and Breakout can be integrated with those reflecting changes in schedule in real-time. That way, organizers have the flexibility to use scheduling systems they are already accustomed to with instant syncing of data, making it much easier to manage presentations’ schedules.
Once logged into the platform, users can browse meeting info, watch live streams and interact with fellow participants. While watching a live stream, members can engage in Q&As with speakers and exchange comments with other users in real-time. This helps bring participants together by allowing interactions and conversations.
After presentations are finished, recordings are processed and become available for members to watch on their own time. Transcriptions are automatically generated allowing users to turn on closed captions while watching presentations. Transcriptions are also available at the bottom of the page for a quick browse. Data gathered from the transcriptions is indexed in Breakout’s smart search.
Moreover, when uploading recordings Breakout signalizes to technicians which audios captured interferences or other sound problems. It’s not unusual that recordings experience one or another audio problem during large events. However, this is not a problem for Breakout, technicians run problematic audios through the Dolby Enhance API which is capable of automatically cleaning background noises or interferences, fixing loudness levels and voice equalizing. Recordings are left with better sound, crisp audio and comprehensible speech.
On top of each conference’s page is a search bar that was built using the OpenSearch engine. This is a powerful tool that displays search results by relevance first, similar to other great search engines such as Google’s. It ensures more accurate results and a better user experience overall.
Another one of Breakout’s great features is the possibility of attendees connecting to exhibitors via video chat on the platform. Participants schedule meetings with exhibitors and when the time comes they can join in on video chats without ever having to leave Breakout, creating more efficient communication between the two interested groups.
Some of Breakout’s most important features however are hidden away from the attendees of conferences. Located in the admin panel are features like a dashboard with conventions’ insights and metrics, live streaming monitors (video and audio) and an online video editor. This last tool enables Breakout to deliver the presentations correctly clipped within days of the event. Once recordings are uploaded to the cloud, Breakout automatically separates talks according to schedule. They can also be manually clipped for adjustments, however with two or more people working on them simultaneously.
App Masters came up with a Proof of Concept for this project in less than 100 hours of development. This version was much more primitive than the application today, although it still contained many of the app’s important features like chat, Q&A, video streaming, and event schedule. Breakout Technologies was thrilled about what App Masters had accomplished in such little time.
Robert Woods remembers these initial periods vividly: “We would have these long blue sky meetings with them and we’d lay things out that we thought would take 6 months’ worth of work. And within two months, it's ninety percent complete. The iterations of their updates and fixes and the speed of them. I think it all relates back to the depth of their team and their ability to recruit and retain these high-quality developers. And that really shows in the output.”
After only 6 months of intense work, the Breakout platform was ready to be tested with a real client and was first launched in November of 2021 for the AIChE Annual Meeting. This event had 4.278 speakers divided into 64 rooms simultaneously over the course of 5 days. This launch was a special moment for both companies and marked their business partnership. Whenever there are big live events such as this one, the routine of App Masters and Breakout changes to fit a more intense workload. Robert explains: “App Masters is always very keenly aware when we're in our time crunch. When we're on really intense turnaround times or we have a live event going on. Their communication is always so astounding during those events, helping us above and beyond.”
Ever since the launch in November, the application hasn’t stopped growing, with constant updates and added new features. With every new client, the platform is adapted to the event’s needs, meaning that each time the application gets more and more robust. So far we have handled 10 events successfully up until July of 2022, with many more to come.
Breakout was developed using React and Next.JS for the frontend. For the backend, it was used Reach and Node.JS. However, there were many other third-party services integrated into the project, such as 18 Amazon Web Services, and many others.
The Breakout Platform was developed using GitHub Actions, making it much easier and faster to create deployments and make them available for client testing. Our team always uses tools for continuous integration and continuous delivery, allowing clients to always have the latest versions of our softwares for testing. This largely accounts for App Masters’ speedy deliveries and fast feedback returns from our clients.
To anyone I meet with an idea for a website, a platform, or an app, I always say the hardest part about doing that is finding a development team and I’ve got the team for you! It's one of those things that whenever you find a really good professional partner, they almost become part of your professionalism, part of your credibility. I love telling people about App Masters, it's one of the safest bets anyone can make about a software development company.
COO at Breakout Technologies
Breakout is a company that offers digital solutions to membership associations’ events. These include software, project management, and A/V support - such as Digital Posters, Hybrid Meeting Platform, and Recording & Streaming Services. Based in North Carolina and founded in 2020, Breakout is one of the leading companies in its niche.
Learn more about them at meetbreakout.com
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