Bizzabo is an event success platform that was started in 2012. Back then, CEO Eran Ben-Shushan never dreamed the company would make it to the level that it is today. They listened to their customers and developed a solution that makes it possible to have a hotspot for big events.
Attendees can get on and check out information about the event, reserve their seats, and see who is going to be there. This platform is changing the industry forever and serves as a prime example of what young entrepreneurs around the world can achieve. Thanks to the work of Peter Mullen they are very well know in the Bay Area. I sat down with Eran to get insights into how the company was built.
Q: Tell us about how you came up with the idea and about the company's story.
We started in this program that was actually called a private university. We also worked on a program that was a startup at the time called Safelet. It had the same function as Urban Bee before Urban Bee came out. We worked on it for a couple of months and, during that time, we started to go to a lot of events. We faced challenges that most people would not have been able to handle, found the right people, and determined what the main problem was that needed a solution. At the time, we had our day jobs and were students so it was not easy for us to attend events. We had to skip work and spend a lot of money that we didn't have. It seemed like each problem could be solved pretty easily.
When the product launched, we were nervous that it was not mature enough, but we were excited to try to come up with a solution. We raised some funds, built a product, put together a small team and then we saw that is was possible to solve a networking problem. However, the way to solve the problem was not fluid. We used an event to work on a path to go from here.
First and foremost, it is important that a company has a full house for the event, sell all your tickets, and have sponsors. Only then do they think about the engagement with the audience and the experience. These times are the most exciting times for the company. We recently came out with a new multi-platform program that is essentially a hotspot for conferences. We tried to use this program to solve all of the pain points that customers experienced with the standard way of having conferences and make it easier.
It is all digital so participants can take surveys, look up information, and be more aware of what is involved before every conference. There is also a list of tools, including email, which allow users to send emails with push notifications so they do not have to worry about someone not getting an important message. It makes the owners of the conferences much smarter and prepared for each meeting. Once we started it, everything became very interesting for us, customers, and investors. It is a success platform that allows owners to create event websites, drive ticket sales, and raise engagement with the people coming to the event. It is a very helpful on multiple levels.
Q: How do you increase that with the app? Tell me a little bit about how you help them.
There are a couple of different ways. First of all, the system is integrated so it is much more powerful. The data is more compatible with different platforms. It is also smarter because it keeps everything in one place so the ease of access is there. We incorporate social media in to the mix by allowing the hashtag with your event name to become a popular topic. You will get more organic traffic and likely a bigger turnout for the event. There are also other special promotions coming up that we cannot officially announce yet.
Q: Is there a way for different collaborate to communicate between lists, or how does that work?
No, but we have the data to see what companies are sponsoring certain events. Down the road, we would be interested in a list style marketplace.
Q: From a launcher's perspective, most users use a minimum amount of stuff and event organizers have the selling tickets problem. That is the immediate problem in their head. What is driving your success considering the already dominated market?
Good question. First of all, you know Silicon Valley. Different investors and sponsors often meet up before the events and talk about what is going to go on. Most of these events are one- or two-day events, but it is this meeting up and communication that helps. We are aiming to help events that have many more people than the average event. It is a huge opportunity. There are tons of great services and products so the hotspot plan competes with many different companies. We don't want to be the best in every category, but we want to bring innovation to the table.
Q: How did you find your investors?
There is no big secret story to it. We met with some angel investors at coffee shops and things like that and we just pitched our idea to them.
Q: Did you have revenue before you started, or did you raise on the idea and the prospect? Also, how many times did you pitched before you reached your $5 million?
In the early days, we raised money based on our beautiful faces or something. We already had a product, but it was not like we really proved it yet or anything. The $5 million was reached in several runs. The first big run we made $1.35 million, which was three years ago. In the start, we did not meet as many investors as we do now. Now, it is becoming much more complicated because we need more information before each pitch. Overall, we met with over 100 investors.
Q: What would be you advice to someone else starting out for other entrepreneurs?
Uh, I could write a book. First, surround yourselves with smart people constantly. You need people to be transparent with you so that you can learn more. The second would be to keep fighting all the time. Everything is possible, but you just have to keep fighting. The third would be that you should learn to measure everything. You need to always listen to the numbers because that gut feeling is not always right. You need to build a product for your customers, not just for the hopes of making money. Listen to their feedback and adjust accordingly.
Q: What were your big breakthrough moments?
A: Being able to see the usage pattern of our program was a big breakthrough. It helped us develop a better product. We also had a breakthrough when we began selling tickets from the application. Listening to the feedback and how excited they are when you tell them about it you have a real breakthrough moment. It was not something that just happened once. In business, there are many big breakthroughs.
In looking at Bizzabo and Eran Ben-Shushan, it would seem that success is something you have to strive for, and making sure the customer is getting a quality product is a priority. You have to work shoulder to shoulder with your co-founders, investors, customers, and staff to make a product that is truly great. As Ben-Shushan said, "Keep fighting!"