Tobi Lyon became an entrepreneur at an age when many people are landing an entry-level job after college.
At just 23, Lyon started her first association management company in South Dakota. By the time she was 29, she sold the company — by then the largest of its kind in the state. After moving to Michigan, Lyon maintained a full-time career, but never walked away from life as an entrepreneur.
In her off hours, she worked hard to establish a strong client base, and in 2013 she launched Ngage Management, her next association management company.
“For the first four years, Ngage was a one-woman show and what some would have seen to a be quiet player in the Michigan association market,” said Lyon. “It was not until 2017, when I had a consistent influx of new clients knocking on my door, that I realized I needed some expertise on my team in specific areas. In 2017, I hired the first full-time employee at Ngage. Since then, Ngage has grown rapidly, which required three office expansions and helped us become the recipient of 50 Companies to Watch in 2020.”
Helping Organizations Thrive
Association management companies provide services that range in scale from organizing an event to managing the day-to-day tasks of the organizations they serve. As a full-service association management company, Ngage offers clients the opportunity to leverage shared resources, allowing them to keep costs down while benefiting from capabilities like marketing, finance, event management and growing their membership base.
By definition, Lyon’s entrepreneurship has given Ngage clients an opportunity to thrive in all new ways. And grow they have. In 2019 alone, Ngage clients saw 42% growth in membership compared to a national average of 10%, and their event and conference profits increased by 39%.
Filling in the Gaps
In 2016, Lyon realized that no other association management company in Michigan created its own products, opting instead to use third parties to serve their clients. As a lifelong entrepreneur, Lyon got to work to change that.
Over the next few years, Ngage created its own nursing certification software and an event-based mobile app. Both have helped save clients money and increase revenue.
Ngage holds a monthly “Innovation Hub” with new ideas brought to the table each month. Most recently, those ideas have included facilitating a 24-hour nurse-to-nurse warm line for frontline workers and creating virtual networks of support groups for four state-specific health care clients. Ngage also created a virtual platform for its clients to use to save them money when hosting virtual conferences, just to name a few in a long list of launches for the company.
Knowing virtual events and meetings aren’t going away anytime soon, Lyon is excited about how Ngage has adapted.
“We hope to create a more engaging virtual experience by making our platform more user-friendly, welcoming, and invoking excitement through promotional emails and posts that make the event something that attendees and vendors feel they can’t miss out on,” she said.