We’ve been Gather fans (and heavy users) since we opened The Garage in 2016. Being in the heart of Tech Square, we have a rare glimpse into the innovation ecosystem and the development of new technologies. Watching Gather evolve has been a real treat.

We sat down with Nicholas Miller, Gather co-founder and CEO, to delve a little deeper into how Gather was created, and what’s in store for the future of event planning technology.

What’s your elevator pitch?

“Gather is a cloud-based software platform that provides restaurants and event venues, and their customers, with user-friendly tools to make planning life’s special events a seamless, fun experience. From managing inquiries and event bookings to collecting signed contracts and payments, Gather’s software platform is everything a venue needs to run a successful events program.”

Was there a magical moment that led to the idea for Gather or was it something that evolved naturally over time?

“While it took a while for us to get to that “lightbulb” moment, ultimately Gather evolved out of a desire to help local businesses thrive. My co-founders and I wanted to create a company that could help this segment and that led us down a few different paths. But along the way, we developed relationships with folks at some of the top restaurants and restaurant groups in Atlanta and soon discovered they were still using pen and paper to manage a very lucrative line of business — private events. And that’s when the pieces started to come together.

There had to be a more efficient a process for managing private dining and events. So with help from our early clients, we developed a software platform to streamline and automate those administrative tasks, making planning and execution of events easy for both the venue and their customers. After seeing strong growth in the restaurant space, we saw the need for this type of solution in different types of venues, and have since expanded to breweries, bowling alleys, wineries, movie theaters and more. Today, Gather is a solution that our clients — over 3,000 locations across the US — depend on.”

What was it about the event industry that compelled you to look to technology for a solution?

“Alex, Tom and I knew that planning events as a customer could be a frustrating experience, and when we discovered that many of our favorite restaurants in Atlanta were using pen-and-paper and post-it notes to manage events on their end – we recognized problems in need of a solution for folks on both sides of event planning.

Technology, specifically software, is an extremely effective way to simplify process-driven businesses that require communication across a large set of stakeholders – which is a perfect description of the businesses we serve. Ultimately our goal is to use technology to simplify this process, while still accommodating and enabling the human element of hospitality that makes these types of events special.”

Who was your ideal customer during prototyping?

“When we first developed the platform, our ideal customers were restaurants or venues looking to expand or develop their private dining and events arms, including some of our early clients Ford Fry Restaurants, Murphy’s, Concentrics Hospitality, and Castellucci Hospitality Group.”

Has that evolved over time?

“After finding success with local restaurants and restaurant groups, we recognized the same technology gap existed for other event venues. Whether they were hosting birthday parties or company dinners, these unique venue spaces were experiencing the same pain points associated with the “pen and paper” method of event coordination. So we expanded our customer base to include independent venues, hospitality groups and national brands.”

What emerging technologies do you see affecting the events industry most in the next 2-5 years?

“For a long time, event and even restaurant technology has been focused on improving and enhancing the customer/attendee experience. In the next couple years, we’re going to see a shift as more restaurants and venues are looking for technologies that can enhance and automate their back-end operations. We’ll see restaurants and venues seek out technologies that allow them to capture and mine data so that they can use it to potentially automate some of their sales and marketing and further improve the guest experience.”

Can you tell us anything about what you’re working on now?

“We’re constantly updating our platform to provide the most seamless user experience possible. When it comes to event management software, you don’t need a million features – you need the right features done well. We’re taking our clients’ core problems and solving them in the simplest ways possible, ultimately helping our clients secure more business faster.

Moving forward, we certainly have an eye on helping simplify the process for our clients’ customers – the folks who are booking events. How can we make the process of booking an event as seamless and fun as possible? We have a few ideas we’re pursuing here and are excited to hopefully share soon.”

Nicholas Miller is co-founder and CEO of Gather, the leading event management software for thousands of restaurants and venues. Serving as the anchor between management, event teams, and their customers, Gather enables restaurants, venues and hospitality companies of all sizes to manage and grow their events business.