Inc. 5000 Marketplace

  • 2021

  • Digital

Designed By:


Commissioned By:


Designed In:

United States of America

The Inc. 5000 Marketplace is a virtual world created for the Inc. 5000 Vision Conference in the US where attendees could meet other attendees and be social. The Marketplace was designed with simplicity, serendipity and playfulness in mind — to make room for meaningful conversations and social fun.

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  • During the COVID-19 pandemic many of us are attending conferences online but platforms like Zoom don't create enough space for meaningful connections to be made. Likewise a video presentation without the opportunity to discuss with other attendees is a poor substitute for in-person events. So we put our heads together and conceptualized a platform centered around the social experience with the goal of bringing some of the pleasure and serendipity of in-person events to virtual ones - where chance meetings and side conversations make the experience worthwhile.

  • First, we designed for ease of use - building an experience that worked in all major web browsers irrespective of computer power, with easy point and click navigation so everyone felt like a pro. Second, we designed for immersion - with rich 3D visuals, layered ambient sound and oriented people using first-person perspective. Together these elements created a sense of familiarity and encouraged exploration. Third, we designed for serendipity - designing 17 unique spaces to explore, including multiplayer games, photo booths, and creativity tools to encourage chance meetings and networking amongst honorees and sponsor representatives.

  • The Inc. 5000 Marketplace was a special offering for honorees attending the virtual 2020 Inc. 5000 Vision conference. The world was built to sustain thousands of concurrent users. The average attendee entered 22 virtual spaces in the Marketplace, engaged with at least two virtual activations (golf, photo-booths, trivia etc) and collected at least three items of digital swag. Brand ambassadors told us it was the first time in six months they'd talked to their customers and Inc. journalists entered the world to chat with entrepreneurs for their next story.

  • Honorees of the Inc. 5000 take pride in gaining entry to the conference over multiple years, so we knew it was important to translate some of the long-established real world experiences into the virtual one. For example each attendee received a sponsor passport, where attendees get a stamp each time they visit a sponsor booth. Just as at the physical event, attendees that collected a stamp from every sponsor were automatically shipped an Inc. 5000 trophy. Working closely with the conference's key sponsors we also designed a series of activations that allowed attendees and sponsors to connect with each other in real time, to share stories about their pressing challenges and discuss ways to overcome those challenges. Like the in-person event, attendees were equipped with a swag bag to collect their momentos, alongside useful digital materials produced by the sponsors and virtual collectables that resulted in send out of real physical product. Capital One sponsored an art gallery with virtual photo booths powered by GAN servers. For Insperity we created a sports center with a multiplayer trivia game and multiplayer golf. Each day the highest scores on the leaderboard were awarded prizes.