Hubilo, a platform that helps businesses of all sizes host virtual and hybrid events and gain access to real-time data and analytics, has raised $23.5 million in a series A round led by Lightspeed Venture Partners. The round saw participation from the U.K.’s Balderton Capital and Microsoft chair John W. Thompson, among other angel investors.
The investment comes as people around the world prepare for some semblance of normality after a year of pandemic-induced social distancing. But while physical events will likely return in some form in the next year, online events are widely expected to stay — either exclusively or as part of a hybrid format. Digital conferences, meetups, and events can be scaled far more easily and with fewer resources than their brick-and-mortar counterparts, and they also generate a lot of data that can prove valuable for tracking and correlating business objectives.
A slew of virtual events platforms raised substantial sums of cash from big-name investors last year. One of those was Hubilo — an Indian startup that was founded back in 2015 as an offline event management software company that offered tools to set up event websites and manage tickets and registration, along with dedicated mobile apps for navigating, networking, and scheduling meetings. Hit by the pandemic’s impact on the physical events industry, in March Hubilo embarked on a dizzying 20-day pivot to online events that saved it from oblivion. Over the rest of the year, Hubilo grew from 30 employees to more than 100, hit its two-year revenue target in months, and secured $4.5 million in a seed round of funding led by the Indian investment arm of Lightspeed Venture Partners.
Today Hubilo says 40% of its clients are U.S.-based enterprises, including Amazon Web Services (AWS), with big-name clients from elsewhere including Siemens, Roche, and the United Nations.
Above: Hubilo: Breakout room
The main event
Hubilo offers many of the tools you would expect from an online events platform, including video livestreaming and breakout rooms. But the platform’s core promise to companies considering virtual or hybrid events is enhanced data and measurability.
For example, organizers can access engagement data around visitors, including the number of logins and new users versus active users. And sponsors can determine whether a visitor is likely to purchase from them based on engagement with their virtual booth. Data includes the number of business cards received, profile views, file downloads, and more.
Hubilo can also track visitors’ activities, such as attending a booth or participating in a video demonstration, and then recommend similar activities that may be relevant. This tracking is where things get interesting from a business perspective, as sponsors or sales personnel can access potential prospects through a feature Hubilo calls “potential leads.”
“The potential leads feature in Hubilo provides the sponsors and exhibitors with hot leads based on the activities performed by attendees,” Hubilo cofounder and CEO Vaibhav Jain told VentureBeat. “This enables the key stakeholders to generate maximum return on investment from the event, and also match with the right people. They can then connect with these attendees via one-to-one video meetings and exchange their contact information.”
Elsewhere, speakers can glean insights into the quality of their sessions in terms of views, interactions, and ratings and dig down into the popularity of each breakout room, including average session lengths, number of participants, raised hands, and more.
Above: Hubilo: Data on speakers
Above: Hubilo: Data on breakout rooms
Online events also allow businesses and conference organizers to encourage engagement through gamification, something Hubilo enables by giving out points to attendees based on sessions watched or visits to a virtual booth, with the most highly engaged participants able to win prizes.
Above: Hubilo: Gamification can help engagement
Hubilo can integrate with an array of enterprise tools spanning CRM, marketing, video, and event tech. These include Salesforce, Zapier, Hubspot, Mailchimp, Marketo, Zoom, Cisco’s Webex, and YouTube. And the company has bigger plans on the analytics and data integration front, including building out native integrations with CRMs and other tools, introducing multi-event analytics, and bringing sponsored ads to the mix.
“Native integrations with CRMs and other applications will enable seamless transfer of data between Hubilo and other enterprise systems, [while] multi-event analytics will help enterprises efficiently leverage event data from multiple events and retrieve holistic insights from them,” Jain said. “Sponsored ads will provide new avenues for event organizers to monetize their event and will help sponsors and exhibitors get more visibility and generate additional leads.”
Hubilo was founded six years ago out of Ahmedabad, the largest city in the Indian state of Gujarat, but in the wake of the global pandemic the company ditched its HQ, embracing a remote workforce distributed across India and the U.S. However, the company said it’s gearing up to launch a new HQ in San Francisco this spring to support its burgeoning U.S. growth.
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