Bizzabo, the Israeli-developed networking and event planning app, announced Thursday a new funding round of $2.5 million from existing investors, including Kaedan Capital, AfterDox, angel investor Gigi Levy, and new investors OurCrowd and Massa Group, reflecting its branching out from social affairs into the high-tech world.
Bizzabo provides information about events — shows, seminars, demonstrations, projects, marathons — taking place in a specific area. Although it can be used for any kind of event in any kind of industry, it is the tech community that has embraced Bizzabo. For example, if IBM is running a seminar for developers interested in building apps for the IBM cloud, the company can use Bizzabo to spread the word. Bizzabo users in the area get a message about when the event is scheduled and can register for it via the app.
Bizzabo has brought in $4 million since it started raising cash in 2011 for its free mobile app. Going beyond a simple calendar, it puts conference attendees in touch with each other and with organizers, enabling users to find out about events in their area and connect with each other, while making it easier for event sponsors to reach out to participants and follow up with them. The new funding will enable Bizzabo to upgrade its offering from an “app” to a “platform,” allowing event organizers to add new communication and organizational features for participants.
“Having now worked with thousands of conferences around the world, from leading corporate events to brand name tech conferences and small meetups, we have gained an even deeper understanding as to what the meetings industry needs to become more effective and impactful,” said Bizzabo CEO and co-founder Eran Ben-Shushan. “This funding will allow us to create a comprehensive and beautiful solution that addresses the key needs of the event industry. The ‘New Bizzabo,’ which will be launched later this year, is aiming to become the go-to technology for event organizers to manage, market, sell and maximize their events.”
“The solutions for event management available today are very ad hoc,” Ben-Shushan said in an interview with The Times of Israel. “There is definitely a business opportunity for a company like ours, which has a great deal of experience in helping organizers build a community around event participants.”
The monetization can go beyond the app itself, said Ben-Shushan. Event management is one of the few industries that has not undergone the process of tech streamlining that so many other businesses have. Event planning is still for the most part a local affair, with organizers tackling problems and issues as the come up, instead of planning for them in advance. And few, if any, are in a position to capitalize on the social side of their events, or would even know how to approach the matter, said Ben-Shushan.
“Our investors have played a critical role in helping us build Bizzabo into a recognized market leader,” said Ben-Shushan. “We look forward to continuing our relationship with existing investors and bringing in critical insights from our new partners.”
Event sponsors register their event on the Bizzabo site, detailing information about location, dates, speakers, costs, and more. They can message registrants via Bizzabo, providing them with up to the minute details about schedule changes, speaker profiles, and agendas, and get participant feedback and opinions via polls and quick questionnaires. Meanwhile, organizers can see how many participants have tweeted or shared information about the event on Facebook in order to gauge the event’s “social media” impact over time, track how many people are attending specific sessions, and judge the overall event success in the industry.
Bizzabo is in a good position to expand its services, said Ben-Shushan. Registered users can see their own and others’ profiles and connect with them before, during, or after the event. The result is a social network and community built around events, with users sharing their data via LinkedIn and Twitter. “We end up knowing a lot about our customers,” said Ben-Shushan. “We use that information to add features to Bizzabo and make it even more useful.”
Ben-Shushan can cite dozens of Bizzabo “success stories.” In a recent UK tech event, the NOAH Conference, for example, organizers were able within just a few days to sign up nearly 600 participants via the app, who used it to send over 3,000 networking messages to each other, and over 1,000 LinkedIn invitations using Bizzabo.
“Bizzabo helped increase attendee return on investment by providing a mobile experience that connected attendees with both important event information and the networking opportunities that they craved,” said Ben-Shushan. “By providing this value, Bizzabo helped NOAH establish themselves as an extremely worthwhile and beneficial conference for Internet professionals.”