When the world went increasingly digital due to the Covid-19 induced pandemic, events, gatherings and get-togethers went virtual as well. Despite the world coming back to a make-shift normal, the events industry has adopted the virtual mode, with the global market size poised to touch $400 Bn by 2027, and startups such as Hubilo, Hopin, Swapcard. TouchCast and Bizzabo, pushing the boundaries for greater growth amid the new normal.
Founded in 2015, by Vaibhav Jain and Mayank Agarwal, Bengaluru- and US-based Hubilo started its journey as a virtual networking platform for attendees way before it became a norm. Accelerated by the “new normal”, Hubilo has raised $125 Mn in a Series B round led by Alkeon Capital, with participation from existing investors Lightspeed Venture Partners and Balderton Capital.
The investment is one of the largest in the event-tech industry, a testament to the revolution in ways in which people connect, engage, share experiences, and create opportunities, the startup claims.
Hubilo plans to use the funds raised to enhance the markets within India and outside — the US, the UK, EMEA and APAC. It also plans to develop new business functions and advance innovation of its platform.
The startup also plans to strengthen its product, engineering, and design teams, increasing the overall employees’ count by 150% to support its rapid growth plans and to respond to the increased customer demand for virtual and hybrid events.
“We have grown 10.5x in the last 12 months, and we plan to launch new features soon,” Jain told Inc42.
“The hybrid events industry has a huge potential, and we are going to be hybrid and physical-ready. We have been in the offline industry for a long time, and that context is going to help us build a better hybrid platform. We crossed the ARR we expected in 2021, but most of our resources have gone into R&D for the hybrid-events industry,” he added.
The startup currently claims to have 10K+ events with over 2 Mn attendees across 100+ countries and 900+ clients. Its major consumers include Publicis Sapient, Nivea, Reliance Jio, Schneider Electric, Walmart, Roche Pharma, Tech In Asia, United Nations and GITEX (one of the world’s largest tech events) among others.
From Offline To Online To A Hybrid World
Last year, amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Hubilo saw its business suffer due to the cancellation and postponement of physical events by its clients across corporate, leisure, media and entertainment, sports and retail segments across the globe.
With its revenue plummeting, the startup was forced to pivot. According to markets research firm Tofler, Hubilo reported a revenue of INR 4 Cr ($500K) in FY20, where it also was also EBITDA positive at INR 24 Lakhs ($300K).
Thus, it utilised its original solution, a networking platform for event attendees, and transitioned into a virtual events solutions company. The startup’s Minimum Viable Product (MVP) was ready within 20-25 days, with creative event production company Tessarakt Experiential becoming its first client. Since then, it has gone from having 30 to over 100 employees by the close of 2020.
It also raised a seed round of funding worth $4.5 Mn from the India arm of Lightspeed Venture Partners and claimed to have reached a $10 Mn ARR (annual recurring revenue) for FY21.
The event-tech startup, which was incubated at iCreate, has also raised a Series Around of $23.5 Mn, bring the total funds raised to date at $153 Mn, and growth from Seed round to Series B of 7X.
Update | 03:15 PM: Added comment from founder Vinayak Jain.