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As the virtual events industry takes off, one company is poised to lead

When the pandemic took hold, event management companies — facing lockdowns around the globe — were hit hard. Hubilo, a company that was then focused on producing and increasing attendee engagement at in-person events, was no exception. Their revenue had gone to zero. Change was the only option. The company’s founders observed a growing reliance on video calling for meetings and events yet found existing platforms to be lacking all that is needed for event production. So, they pivoted. In just 26 days, Hubilo would upend its model and shift its focus from in-person events to virtual and hybrid events.

Hubilo’s risky pivot paid off — big time. Eighteen months later, the start-up has grown from just 30 employees to more than 300 globally. Hubilo has a brand new platform and business model, two innovations that have secured them $125 million in Series B funding and thousands of new clients. Their story is one of remarkable ingenuity, growth, and transformation — and they’re only getting started.

Engagement sets Hubilo apart

Hubilo’s founder and CEO, Vaibhav Jain, saw the shortcomings of the existing paradigm for virtual events: video platforms that typically highlighted one speaker, with other attendees on the sidelines. He and his co-founder saw the opportunity to create more engagement and energy, to reach all event-goers. “We decided, let’s go ahead and build out something that is very different from video meetings with more engagement and analytical capabilities,” Jain said. 

As a result, the company has focused on engagement and collaboration, inspired by the set-up of physical events. “It’s not just breakout rooms,” Jain emphasized. “We have the largest suite of engagement and gamification features in this space that allows an organizer to create a wholesome experience for their attendees and prospects.” From one-on-one match-made meetings to polls and contests, Hubilo is integrating features that give event-goers an unprecedented amount of interaction.

The company is working to bring their improvements to a more intimate level through personalized attendee journeys. “We’ll actually understand what type of sessions you want to do and what type of people you want to meet at a particular conference, and we’ll be able to showcase those items to you beforehand,” Jain said. Using this data, the company is working on a feature that will guide attendees through conferences, akin to an usher handling a VIP guest at an in-person event.

Leading with empathy

Despite the platform’s sophisticated features, Hubilo is more than just an innovative tech stack. The company is staffed with event professionals that possess a deep comprehension of their customers. “We are a company who really understands and empathizes with what you need,” said Cathy Song Novelli, SVP of Marketing + Communications at Hubilo. “The fact that we have got many event organizers and planners with varying event experiences spread throughout the company, understanding, and empathy is core to our DNA.”

The feedback from both Hubilo’s customers and its own employees has given the company an edge when it comes to organizing successful events. Experts are available to work through technical issues in real-time – as they are there, live with clients – saving event organizers from “spending minutes trying to troubleshoot something as attendee numbers drop and drop,” Novelli explained. The company has established a Rolodex of vendors around the world to support their hybrid events, from champagne caterers to production studios that can create immersive green screen experiences that allow attendees to feel like they’re at an event in person.

Recently, the company has added marketing with support to reach audiences around the world. “We removed the barrier of language on the platform,” said CTO and Co-founder, Mayank Agarwal. Since writing Hubilo’s very first line of code, he and the Hubilo team has worked tirelessly to implement customer feedback into the company’s products. “Hubilo was built to help people connect virtually and bring a lot of human connections,” Agarwal said.

Demonstrated success across all sectors

In the months since Hubilo’s transformative pivot to virtual and hybrid events, the company has organized nearly 13,000 events for more than 900 clients. They range from cryptocurrency summits to plumbing conferences — and are equally diverse geographically. GITEX, a consumer show organized by Hubilo in Dubai, boasted 80,000 attendees. On the other side of the world, a cyber fitness program saw 2,500 attendees in Miami. 

“Every month I see something different,” CEO Jain said. Some events have lasted weeks. In one case, a doctor performed a surgery live, observed by physicians in numerous countries.

Gunning for the big leagues

Hubilo’s rapid growth has infused the company and its employees alike with a sense of vigor and optimism. The virtual and hybrid events sector is expected to expand significantly, becoming a trillion-dollar industry by 2028 —  and Hubilo is poised for continued growth and recognition within it. The company ran a survey among a thousand organizations around the world and found that 70% of events in the future will have a virtual component.

Agarwal envisions himself, alongside Jain, ringing the NASDAQ bell down the line. Their investors share the founders’ confidence. “This is the first time in my career. I’ve seen a five-to-ten billion-dollar market emerge at the pace at which it has emerged in the last 18 months or so,” said Guru Chahal, a partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners who invests in Hubilo. “I’m willing to bet there’ll be several public companies created in the space over the next few years — and Hubilo has a clear shot at leading that.”