Having grown up in an entrepreneurial family, Falon Veit Scott is well-versed in what it takes to run a company and motivate her team. But it takes an ambitious spirit and some serious moxie to move an events company forward and ensure that it thrives during a pandemic. With the goals of carrying as many clients and vendors with her as possible and creating memorable experiences for Nashville and beyond, she’s forging an innovative path in the world of strategic event planning — from trade shows to the esteemed Iroquois Steeplechase. Please welcome the founder and CEO of Evolution Event Solutions, Falon Veit Scott.
What prompted you to begin Evolution Event Solutions?
I started my event planning company almost nine years ago, and the main reason is to work with nonprofits in a greater way. I’ve been in events since 1999, if you count what I did in college, and I always worked for corporate meeting planning houses — larger groups of people that traveled around the world and produced corporate meetings. We also did nonprofit here and there. However, when I started Evolution Event Solutions, I said, “Why can’t nonprofits get what corporations get?” It usually comes down to money, but that doesn’t make sense to me. We should be able to provide the same services to nonprofits that we do for corporations and figure out a way to cover that cost for them. So, the business model for us today is about 80% corporate business and 20% nonprofit, and we’re able to provide our brains and expertise level to help them elevate events. The team that I’ve brought up over the years comes from various backgrounds — government, tech, nonprofit, and corporate. We provide nonprofits the information and skill set that corporations get, and we don’t turn business down because of costs. I want to make sure that everybody across the board can have a fantastic event.
What have you done to move your company forward during the challenges of the past year?
I love telling this story, because it’s positive! COVID really hurt our industry (and still is) in a big way. I sent the team home on March 4, 2020, when the first case hit Williamson County (and the day after the tornado), and by the morning of March 5, we were talking about moving into virtual. We’ve always done virtual events because I have a production background, but we went full force into it. We went to work, and within about 30 days, we had a framework on how to start selling and pushing it out. We don’t own equipment such as screens or cameras, so the role that we provide for virtual events is as the producer and/or director. We fill the gap. Once that was up and going, and we got into the groove of things, I said, “Alright, everybody, learn something new!” I wasn’t super picky about what it was. I asked, “What can you do in the event space to make you better once we come out of COVID?” We now have 37 certifications across a team of 10. I was already in school, so I finished that degree. We also used the time to revamp processes, procedures, and documentation to keep ourselves busy until we started producing virtual events full-time. We’ve had a couple of live events so far this year, and of course, now, everything is hybrid or live moving forward.
Tell us what’s it’s like to be working on the beloved event that is Iroquois Steeplechase!
It’s my favorite event. I started volunteering for Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital in 2006, and I literally volunteered my way into a job. I helped run Iroquois when I was a wee little Falon in her early 20s! This will be my 11th year, though not consecutively. I took a few years off to start my business. It’s fantastic — we do three of them around the country. The whole team loves it because we’re usually in convention centers and hotels around the world, which is fun, but it’s way better to be out in this beautiful grass, hang out as a team, wear workout clothes, and build something from scratch. There’s really nothing out here — essentially, we have to build the building and then tear it back down. It’s a three-week process.
How has the event changed this year?
When we were going through COVID, the first order of business after realizing we weren’t going to run last year was to find a way to run in 2021, so we pushed the day back as far as we could to June 26. Then, because of the restrictions in place, we started putting together a plan for 50% capacity across the board — we were going to change everything. It wasn’t going to look like your normal Steeplechase whatsoever, from boxed lunches instead of big buffets to separating the box holders to checker-boarding the tailgating areas instead of having them side by side. We had that plan done, and then we got word that they were opening up the city, and they said we could be at 100% capacity. So, we’re going back to what we did before, but there will be measures in place to make sure that safety is being followed. Some people are still worried. We’re not going to get over this pandemic right away; it’s going to be in our minds forever. We’re making sure buffets are protected, that staff and bartenders and servers wear masks and gloves, that we have masks and hand sanitizer available. We’re making sure that people are comfortable moving around in the space and that there are plenty of areas for them to go if it becomes overcrowded for some reason. We want people to be here and know that we’re not just throwing a party as we have in the past; it’s not just a big day where safety goes to the wind. We want to ensure that everyone’s comfortable being here, because we’re ready to be back in full force. The good thing is that most of our demographic will be vaccinated by the time we have the event, as will most of Nashville!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
I grew up in an entrepreneurial family. My dad moved all over the country and had many businesses throughout his life. He finally sold them and retired young, only to go back to work a few years later. When I was really young, I didn’t understand why he did what he did — he had four different companies at one time and lived in another country for about six months when I was little. When I got old enough to verbalize the question, I asked, “Why did you do all that when you can just work for somebody like mom did and be home?” He said something like, “If you don’t take risks, it’s boring.”
Outside of faith, family, and friends, what are the three things you can’t live without?
Travel is first for me — personal and professional. It’s been really hard through COVID; I lost a little bit of my soul not being able to see the world, and experiencing cultures is part of that. Success is also a big thing — accomplishment. Even though we’ve accomplished a lot in the past 15 months, it has been hard to reconcile that with how we’ve normally been. And living a life to remember or be remembered for.
Thank you for sharing your story with us, Falon, and thank you to Leila Grossman for the beautiful photos, shot at Iroquois Steeplechase. For information on event tailgating, visit iroquoissteeplechase.org/tailgating.
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