Michael Jones talks with Vaibhav Jain, CEO and Founder of Hubilo, about his career, Hubilo, and the future of the events industry.
What do you think is the next major adaptation in the global event tech industry?
There are three aspects to events now and how virtual events are evolving. There is content, which the organisers bring in through speakers, etc. The second is the community, where all the people come in from different regions and attend a particular event with a common purpose. The third is engagement. So, content plus community plus engagement.
Organisers spend a lot of money on bringing in people, and then they forget about you. How do you engage the attendee before and post the event, the entire journey of the attendee knowing your brand, attending the post-event, and the next event as well, this will be crucial for the events industry of the future.
Hubilo was started in India. What would you say are the current key strengths of the country’s events industry?
Firstly, it is quite cost-efficient and where you’re able to run a lot of things at a lower cost. Second, you can work with multiple agencies over here instead of having an in-house team. Third, the entire industry is well connected. There are not many large-scale events that happen in specific categories; there are a few. Corporates have been taking a lot of help from associations, so there are a lot of partnerships that usually happen at events; at every event, we see that there are a lot of sponsors, associations, and partners that come together with the corporates to promote a particular event; this is also the same at the global level.
What’s your vision for Hubilo’s future development, and where’s the company at in terms of investment and capital?
Our vision is not just to be an event management software company. Our vision at the end of the day is to create a venue that can generate a lot of business opportunities for our clients. When I say that it could be either pipeline, it could be the member renewal rate, it could be engagement to your internal employees, but how do we create that venue where almost a thousand events can happen on our venue in parallel, now that is the power we would want to give to our organisers.
In terms of funds raised, we’ve raised our Series A round, which was US$23.5m from Lightspeed Venture Partners India, Lightspeed Venture Partners US, and Balderton Capital. Three months before that, we raised $4.5m in a seed round from Lightspeed India.
What do you expect the industry to look like in 10 years’ time?
One thing that I know is that whenever a new technology comes in, event managers are going to be the first ones to adopt it. We are seeing a lot of augmented reality, virtual reality, a lot of product launches, and tech showcases that are already taking place. In the next 10 years, what I’m seeing is a blurring of the lines of the physical and virtual, where people at home would be able to experience how the physical audiences will experience the event as if they are actually present. Technology needs to evolve to make us reach that level, where without leaving your home, you can experience what a physical attendee experiences.
Do you see large technology companies, such as LinkedIn and Cisco, moving into the traditional event organiser space, and if so, should traditional organisers be afraid of that competition?
I don’t think that they’ll move into the organiser’s space because they’re going to be looking at tech platforms. At the end of the day, all event organisers try to collaborate with people who provide platforms.
Now there’s a different scenario where players like YouTube, Vimeo, Cisco would want to move into the virtual event space because that in itself is an entire tech play. As it’s video, they would want to be a part of it, as the entire world is working from home, and it is going to be a difficult shift to go back to the office, the video here becomes a very important part of the collaboration. One of the collaboration forms is organising virtual events for your internal employees or your external prospects or audiences, and that is where I think they are going to play.