Notified Executive Allie Magyar: ‘You’re Not Confined by Your Title’
From street racing to startups, serial entrepreneur Allie Magyar shares the highs and lows that come with forging your own path.
Jennifer N. Dienst
“I get the awesome opportunity to think without limits and then figure out how that may be applied as our world continues to change,” said Allie Magyar, on her role as chief product officer at Notified.
Allie Magyar’s career journey has been anything but conventional. After getting her start producing car shows and taking over an event agency (all by the age of 25), Magyar went on to produce major events like Microsoft Ignite and launch an event tech startup, Hubb. In 2021, Hubb was acquired by Intrado (now Notified), where Magyar is currently chief product officer.
“Looking back on my career, one of the things that I’ve always been so passionate about is understanding my audience and what matters to them,” Magyar said. “What’s going to bring them value, what brings them joy? I couldn’t have found a better job. … I’m so excited just being able to affect other people’s lives in a positive way through events.”
On changing course in college and finding her passion for events through street racing:
I went to college to be an English and music major — I was a concert flautist. I got a full scholarship and I discovered within one quarter [of a semester] that I absolutely hated it. So I came back from college and I really felt like I didn’t have a purpose. I started organizing street races … and I was one of the only women in the street racing scene that was racing as well.
Bringing people together … was so exciting to me. I took my life savings of $1,000 from [working at] Old Navy and I rented the local fairgrounds and I said, “I’m going to throw a car show.”
I printed all these flyers, went to every mall, every college, called every radio station. And the day of asked my friends to help. We ended up with like, 300 cars and we had 3,000 people come to the fairgrounds, paying 15 bucks a piece. I’m 19, with $45,000 in my pocket … and I remember at the end of the show feeling like that was such a failure. And I had a pep talk from someone that I’ll never forget, because it was so instrumental in my career. He came to me and [said], “Allie, I don’t know what you’re talking about. You are gifted at this, and you should keep producing events.”
I took that $45,000 and I reinvested it. I turned one car show into two the next year, into four the next year, into 10 the following year. And so I became a trade-show producer.
On finding a new direction through failure:
What I didn’t realize as being a trade-show producer is everything is about your gate — the people that you end up getting in the door. I ended up going [to] Detroit, Chicago, and Miami — all these union towns where I didn’t know what “union” meant. So I got hit with $10,000, $20,000, $30,000 bills that I wasn’t expecting.
I really learned the hard way. I ended up $100,000 in debt at the age of 24 and feeling like my entire life was over. Even though my shows were popular — I had a great brand name, I had tons of sponsors — I just wasn’t able to make it work. [Listen to Magyar recap this experience, how she recovered, and what she learned in the video below of her VANtalk.]
Essentially, I thought I was going be a used vacuum salesperson — I literally had that interview. Because I was like, what am I going do with my life? I’ve got one quarter of music education and I’ve been producing car shows, there’s no hope for me.
I was so lucky. A family member had a coffee cart at the Microsoft Conference Center and … he said, “Well, you should talk to this meeting planning agency because they do events for Microsoft.” So I interviewed there, it was a company called Dynamic Events [in Redmond, Washington], and they offered me an entry-level position.
It was my dream job. Day one, they had me working on a road show that was going across 15 different cities. I just loved every second of it.
On taking over an events agency at 25 (as CEO of Dynamic Events) and why it pays to advocate for yourself:
I was 25 at the time where I had to sit in a big room with Microsoft and tell them why they should trust me to take over this company … and manage a very significant amount of money, in terms of their marketing budget, across all of their events. It [was] terrifying. I think sometimes as meeting planners we’re used to making everyone else look good and we have a really hard time putting ourselves on a pedestal and patting ourselves on the back, because our job is to make other people look good.
It was a lesson for me in learning on how to be my own advocate and how to showcase the value that I was bringing — and I proved it. Eventually, I ended up running Microsoft Ignite, their largest customer and partner conference, and they trusted me to manage that whole migration of one product, one story across Microsoft.
On why she started an event tech company (In 2012, Magyar launched event management platform Hubb.):
I was working with one of the most innovative tech companies in the world … and all of these user conferences that I was doing were all about how technology was making an impact on people’s lives and business. I said, “Wait a second, why couldn’t I do that for my own team?”
I was literally taking apart printers at 3 a.m., ink all over my face, to have agendas ready by 7 a.m., freaking out because if attendees didn’t have the most up-to-date agenda they wouldn’t know what to do. That, for me, was a pivotal moment where I said, “Technology can fix this.” So, I took all of the profits from my meeting planning company and I dumped it into building software to solve my own problem. And that’s how Hubb was founded.
I took all of the profits from my meeting planning company and I dumped it into building software to solve my own problem. And that’s how Hubb was founded.”
On her new role at Notified:
At times it all feels brand new and at other times feels like it’s what I’ve been doing my entire career. I get excited every day at being able to bring the voice of our industry to life through innovation and technology. My background from the ground up in meetings and events has given me unique perspective on what technology could be used for and I get the awesome opportunity to think without limits and then figure out how that may be applied as our world continues to change.
On advice for young people entering the events industry:
One of the first things that I tell people is, you can create your own role. You are not confined by your title, you’re confined by your ability to be able to ask questions and to show value in the work that you’re outputting. Take this as an opportunity to treat it like it’s your own company, without the risk, and learn as much as you can, because even if it’s not that company you end up running, you’re going to gain so much valuable experience and learn so much by mistakes.