Hubilo raises $ 125 million to double build a more engaging platform for virtual and live events – TechCrunch

Virtual became the norm for physical meetings at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, and now, with many returning to in-person meetings, some believe that the online version, at least in some form, is here to stay. , sometimes for the better, but sometimes for the worse. Today, a startup called Hubilo that’s building what it thinks is a more attractive version of the medium, announcing a big round of funding to double down on its ambitions. The startup has raised $ 125 million that it will use to continue expanding its platform and company.

Alkeon Capital led the round, with participation from Lightspeed Venture Partners and Balderton Capital. This Series B is a great financial leap for Hubilo. Prior to this, the San Francisco-based but India-born company had raised just $ 28 million in six years (of which $ 23.5 million was raised in a Series A alone). seven months ago, that is, during the pandemic). Does not reveal valuation.

Virtual events, whether they are large conferences, company meetings, one-on-one or small group conversations, dinner parties and quiz nights, have been a success. big business in this Covid-19 period, where they became a key way for people to connect when in-person meetings were impossible. In the world of work, they became an important cornerstone for communication, and companies sank some One billion dollars of direct spending on events, according to Guru Chahal, the Lightspeed Venture Partners partner who invests in Hubilo. “These changes are permanent,” he added.

Video conferencing brands like Zoom; those focused on virtual events such as Hopin, TouchCast and Bizzabo; and those building technology to improve the way video conferencing can be used, like Engageli and mmhmm, saw their stars rise. Even those you can’t associate with virtual events but are looking to do more in the space like LinkedIn are now springing into action.

Hubilo has been among them. The company now has more than 800 clients, big names like Walmart, Blackboard, United Nations, Roche Pharma, AB inBev, Verizon, Facebook, and TikTok. Yes, that is correct. A communications giant, ‘the’ social network, and hugely popular video app sensation are all customers of this particular video product that has built and adapted another type of engaging video experience.

The startup’s particular sweet spot has been to help these organizations plan and run internal and external meetings and events, whether they be private meetings for a few colleagues or external conferences for thousands, giving them the tools to create a custom design and architecture for the startup. event (important when you have multiple tracks) and to tailor a rich set of interactive features to connect with those who “visit” events, and for those visitors to connect with each other. And do it easily and regularly.

It’s a bit like Wix or WordPress for virtual events. Which is interesting because WordPress is also one of their clients.

It’s an epic pivot for a startup that, in early 2020, was staring at a deadpool. Originally founded to create participation apps for in-person events, Hubilo really went to town on that concept as an enhanced startup, with a dashboard that gave exhibition organizers more than 50 different participation features such as leaderboards. , quizzes, collaboration tools, messaging “matchmaking” for networking and more. It was being used by events that had up to 10,000 attendees, where the organizers relied on them to keep people from getting bored.

That business, however, completely ended when people stopped attending such meetings.

So in February 2020, Vaibhav Jain, the CEO and founder, opted for the Hail Mary option. He gave his team only a small amount of time, 26 days, to try to find a new direction for the company, ideally one that did not require a massive capital investment, as that was exactly what he did not have.

The solution was the first version of Hubilo that you see today. Ironically, having so little cash on hand and a very short period of time to work made the team very resourceful: the engagement tools it had already created for physical experiences became the centerpiece of how Hubilo would build his own vision of video conferencing.

Jain told me in an interview that these are some of the characteristics that he believes help differentiate Hubilo’s contribution to the world of video conferencing from the rest of the group.

“We have strong engagement features built into the cloud, with a gamification and analytics model to provide users with information about how sessions look, we can give visitors certifications to view a particular session [but not another]”He said.” We’ve delved into it. Exhibitors also basically get a mini CRM to generate leads, their own set of leads, from an event. ” Organizers can also integrate with many other non-mini CRMs like Marketo, Salesforce, and Hubspot to empower the way they and their interact with people, and how people interact with each other, within their virtual events.

However, all of Hubilo’s initial focus on in-person events was not in vain. Now, with a lot of people going back to the office, going back to lunches, going back to conferences in faraway cities and the rest, the company is building a bigger company. “hybrid“Feature set, bringing a lot of your previous learnings into the mix.

These now sit alongside virtual tools for creating more dynamic in-person experiences, as well as a complementary virtual component for those not physically there. These include not just video footage of stages, but separate communication tools for those in both “places” to converge; side-by-side onstage and virtual conference tracks, and more.

The opportunities to serve the market in a firmly hybrid environment with a platform that gives organizers a new kind of dynamic control over the experience is reminiscent of the technology that helped propel the web into the busy and widely used platform that it is today: they are tools put in the hands of publishers (in this case, event organizers) that help drive the next stages of what is created and used. That, along with the strong client roster, helped drive this funding round, which Jain told me was oversubscribed.

“We strongly believe that the globally distributed workforce is a megatrend that will impact us all in the future. It is clear that research into how we collaborate and connect will be necessary for any global player to be successful, “said Abhi Arun, Managing Partner of Alkeon Capital, in a statement. “At Hubilo, we saw powerful technology capable of connecting the online and offline worlds, a strong CEO, and an incredible market opportunity that gave us the confidence to invest.”

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