Behind the scenes: Sarah Schwaab, By:larm and in-app ordering

Meet the Greencopper team and find out more about this year's in-app ordering and payments at By:larm festival.

Over the next few months, we’ll be working on a series introducing you to the great, passionate and creative minds behind all things Greencopper and golive.fm. First up, meet Sarah Schwaab. After getting a Masters specialized in culture and festivals, Sarah kicked off her career by interning with the Rock en Seine team before heading to Germany and collaborating with Greencopper on the creation of Berlin Music Week’s very first app. Since then, she’s been working out of a co-working space in Berlin as the company’s part-time Regional Manager, helping the whole team better understand and serve a German-speaking music market she’s become deeply entrenched in.

Surrounded by a roster of other music industry startups and companies, she spends her day-to-day relaying with our clients, getting feedback from existing projects, scoping out new opportunities, networking and identifying festival needs to see if Greencopper or golive.fm’s technologies could help them grow and innovate.

Just a few weeks ago, she was on the ground at By:larm festival as we unveiled exciting new features and functionalities, including Order X’s mobile drink ordering and payment platform. Our content creator Sarah Anna had a quick chat with her as well as with By:larm’s head of marketing and sponsors Peter Eikeland to get their impressions on the event, the technology and what lies ahead.

So Sarah, tell me a bit about the event – what does it focus on, who’s there, what stood out the most?

By:larm is a really interesting festival that tends to attract a lot of creative and interesting players from within Norway and Europe’s music industry. It’s fairly small, but it’s packed with content, especially interesting conferences – this year, for example, they had Jarvis Cocker from Pulp giving a really great talk about songwriting and inspiration and Jessica Hopper from MTV talking about how women are shaping the way we record and remember rock history. The music is also amazing, their team seems to have a knack for finding and showcasing truly unique and experimental bands that haven’t quite made it into the mainstream yet; it makes for a pretty amazing few days.

And why did we decide to have someone on the ground this time? We were kicking off some new features, right?

Exactly. Either way, I think it’s really important to have face-to-face contact with our clients and with festival-goers whenever possible – especially when we’re trying out new features. There’s genuinely no better way to get a real sense of how well an app works than to just be there in person to see it in action. This year, we’d also introduced a feature that allowed attendees to order drinks and pay for them directly from the app. Once that was done, all they had to do was drop by the bar and pick up their drinks. We were pretty excited about seeing it live but definitely wanted to have someone there to smooth out any possible kinks. I think people were a little skeptical at first, and as with any other payment feature, there’s a bit of set-up required to enter your payment information and everything, but once it was all up and running, people loved it!

What were your impressions of the new app and feature, Peter?

It was a big success on our end. The platform and technology behind that feature in the app is called Order X, and this was actually the very first event at which it was tested live. If anything, we would have loved to test it on a larger event as it’s definitely been built to scale and work with huge crowds. We’ve known for a while that queues and logistics are the one area in which we could really improve the festival experience. At first, we identified the actual pouring speed as the issue – but once we solved that, we decided to take a jab at order and payment time.

In Norway, about 90-95% of festival payments are now happening on cards. Traditionally, that takes an average of about 25 seconds if you consider the time it takes to order, put through the transaction, get the person’s pin number or signature and validate the purchase. By shifting ordering and payment in-app through our already robust Greencopper app, we were able to shave that to an average of 1.3 seconds per order, and all it took was our software and a few iPods in the hands of bartenders and wait staff. On a bigger scale, that could mean massive economies in time and staffing budgets; it’s really exciting. Alongside the app’s easy navigation, clear schedules, music discovery features and intuitive layout, I think the ordering component turned the app into a really engaging part of this year’s By:larm experience.

So what’s next for you Sarah?

Next is a trip to Switzerland for the m4music festival, which focuses mainly on the Swiss music industry. It’ll be interesting to see what comes up, as the conversation around festivals and technology is constantly evolving, but I definitely think mobile payments is going to play a big role in event apps over the next few years. It’s already quite common practice in Japan and is starting to make its way to Europe and North America. I also think the industry will be talking about the role technology and apps can play in security and crowd management.

Want to find out more about what lies ahead in the world of tech and festival apps? Check out our interview with our CEO Gwenaël!