In 2009, Todd Rogers and Rick Solner founded Seed Labs to turn their love of music festivals into an experience they could take with them on-the-go. The founders began creating mobile apps that would capture the excitement, community, and conversation at music festivals, which quickly expanded to include sporting events, culinary events, community get-togethers and everything in between. Adding an administrative portal and advanced analytics and reporting tools, Seed Labs grew into an attractive end-to-end solution for organizers and is now the mobile provider for big-name events like the ESPN X Games and Kentucky Derby.
Event organizers haven’t been the only ones to see the appeal. Today, Cvent, the world’s largest event management company you’ve never heard of, announced that it is acquiring the Austin-based startup for $4.2 million. For a 21-employee, self-funded company, it’s a great outcome. Especially as the Seed Labs team will get to stay in their hometown of Austin.
Cvent, which offers web-based software for meeting selection, online event registration, sourcing, management, email marketing and web surveys to corporate and government clients, has been looking to expand beyond B2B. The acquisition of Seed Labs will give it an entry point into the consumer events space by way of the startup’s apps, which have been downloaded by over two million users.
In 2012 alone, Seed Labs created 82 apps for 38 events, all of which include interactive schedules, maps, calendars, bios, image galleries, videos, and notifications — features that aim to enhance the consumer experience of events. Cvent wants to take these features and Seed Labs’ mobile infrastructure and carry it into new markets.
In the last year, Cvent has grown from 700 to over 950 employee and has added 2,500 clients to reach a collective 10,000 clients in 90 countries. The company is growing fast, thanks in large part to the $136 million in funding it raised last year from NEA, Insight Venture Partners and Greenspring Associates. With its boatload of capital, Cvent said at the time that it would begin focusing on strategic acquisitions to help it expand into new markets.
As part of this strategy, the company considered and analyzed over 20 different candidates, Cvent Founder and CEO Reggie Aggarwal said. But, after hearing Seed Labs’ name come up again and again when talking to clients and other prospects, it became clear that the startup was respected in the space and represented the best option to help Cvent move into the space. It seems like a lot of consideration for $4.2 million, but you have to respect that.
Especially considering the fact that things weren’t always so rosy for Cvent. As Aggarwal told The Washington Post, three years into building his company, he was facing bankruptcy, was in debt, broke, and living with his parents.
The tough times continued for two more years before things started to turn around. Today, the founder is proud to say that Cvent has had 37 profitable quarters in a row — a pretty damn good comeback story. There aren’t many who would have had the gumption to stick it out that long.
From the sound of it, Cvent has plenty of cash to burn, and though its Seed Labs infusion is pushing the company in the right direction, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Cvent continue to make strategic acquisitions. The momentum is in its favor.