3 min read
We can’t talk about Superhosts without talking about Andrew Bennett.
A little while ago, Andrew found himself wondering why he couldn’t find a community of people who just wanted to practice their language skills, regardless of what languages they spoke. There were plenty of groups centered around one specific language, but none that he knew of invited people who spoke a vast array of them at the same event. What if there was a group of people that got together around a certain topic of interest and then wandered into respective groups to discuss that topic in whatever language they’d like?
He considered the idea for a while but encountered a roadblock. All the traditional video conferencing tools were terrible for this kind of group. Without the ability to move yourself around however you’d like, people would feel stuck, and an unreasonable amount of pressure would fall on the host to coordinate everything. But then he found Toucan.
When Andrew came across Toucan, he finally understood how he could make his dream online community a reality. Because Toucan lets people move around freely and lets you see everything that’s going on around you, event attendees can go to any group they want. They can practice any languages they speak or are actively learning without having to rely on the host to move them around. He calls these events “Multilingual Monday Meetup” (MMM). MMM events, with presenters, happen about once a month. On weeks without a curated event, MMM’s language lounge is open for casual chatting. This is a perpetual Toucan space, with Meeting Spots already prepared for languages requested by MMM members.
Additionally, Toucan makes it easy to have the topic-driven events that Andrew was imagining. With Presenter Mode, he can invite a speaker or several speakers that are experts in a certain field to talk to everyone. And since Toucan has a nifty little sound mixer when someone is presenting, guests at the event can even chat with each other and practice their languages while the presenter is talking. This is perfect for sidebar conversations and in-the-moment comments. Simply put, it makes the event feel more human.
Something that Andrew has noticed about MMM is that it isn’t just an educational experience. Yes, people come for the speakers, and, yes, they may come for the language practice, but they also come to meet people and make new friends. He told me that he has witnessed several groups chatting until the moment the event automatically closes, the very end, about an hour after the presentations finish. When people come on Toucan, they want to stay. And they want to stay connected with the people that they meet.
That’s where the “About Me” feature - or as Andrew calls it, “my Toucan business card” - comes in handy. Not only can you write a little bio about yourself to give everyone at the event a sense of who you are and what you are interested in, you can also add your website and your social media accounts, so anybody you meet knows where to reach you.
I can’t finish a blog about Andrew without mentioning something he’s done that I think is really cool. I have attended several events with him in the past, where he has advertised MMM in a creative way. He has a separate Toucan account, and he set the profile picture for that account to be a QR code that takes you to the MMM meetup.com page when you scan it. That way, anybody who’s interested can learn more about his events just like that! All he has to do is log into an event that he’s attending using that separate account from a different device. So he can enjoy the event himself, while his second account does the advertising for him. Creativity is encouraged on Toucan!
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Antonia Hellman is co-founder and CEO of Toucan.
She is a recent graduate of Stanford University, having studied political science and economics.
She enjoys long walks to explore new cities, listening to audiobooks on 1.2x speed, a cup of hot water, and re-watching mediocre movies.
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