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August 14, 2014

How Bizzabo Attracted $4 Million in Funding, and the Future of Event Apps

Alon Alroy

Bizzabo, a networking platform and event app company, announced a funding round of $2.5 million from existing and new investors today. Participants include Kaedan Capital, AfterDox, Gigi Levy and new investors OurCrowd and Massa Group. Bizzabo has reportedly raised $4 million to date.
The new funding will let the event-tech company build build new functionalities for organizers of professional events and its participants – sponsors, attendees, speakers and exhibitors. The company plans to roll out a comprehensive event management platform later this year.

The Technology of Socialization

Before the announcement, International Meetings Review spoke with Bizzabo’s Co-Founder Alon Alroy about the company and its growth, and how the tourism industry is adapting to new mobile technology needs. “Unlike branded, one-off event apps, Bizzabo is a platform that helps you create and add your event to the platform in less than an hour,” he explained. As of this summer, Bizzabo had been used for more than 4,000 events globally, and Alroy said that users in locations as diverse as Latvia, Canada, San Francisco, Israel, New York and Germany are joining its networking communities. “We help event organizers socialize and mobilize their events in a very short time,” he added.

Earlier this summer, real-time polling and surveys were added to the platform to boost attendee engagement and increase the direct line of feedback to organizers. 

As ubiquitous as traditional event apps have become, Alroy said, they are still more complicated to create than a traditional website. “You need to find a vendor, work for a month, customize it, decide on features, submit it to the app store—the process is not that reachable for events,” he said. By using a multi-event platform, he said, Bizzabo aimed to make app development more accessible to the planners, so that attendees of repeated events don’t need to download multiple apps. 

“Almost all other players offer customization,” Alroy acknowledged, “but with that comes more development time. The process becomes more pricey. We offer customization, but ours is limited in order to help us help the organizer and make [the process] faster. It’s a balance,” he added. “We’ve worked with 4,000 conferences, so we know the features people want.” Those features are generally limited to maximize speed and usability. 

The key component to Bizzabo’s platform is the networking community that works with LinkedIn, which Alroy calls “the standard platform for professionals these days.” Users can log in to the app using LinkedIn, see who else is attending and connect professionally before they meet in person. “So much information is available on social media,” Alroy said. “People don’t want to start building a new profile for every event.” 

Another benefit of integrating social media into event apps is that organizers can turn event attendees into event promoters on social media. Twitter is also integrated “into every part of the app,” Alroy said, so attendees can sit in on a session and tweet in real time with the official event hashtag automatically embedded. “Forty percent of users share event-related content before and during an event,” he added. “When you join an event community for the first time, you can share the fact that you're attending…[and] people really like to go to events where their colleagues [already] are.” 

Connection, Security and the Future of Event Apps

While social media integration is a vital component of event apps, Alroy acknowledges that larger corporations are frequently concerned about protecting attendees privacy and security, and limiting what information is shared. To that end, Bizzabo encrypts data and makes sure the social elements are opt-in, so attendees don’t have to share anything they don’t want to. 

And, Alroy noted, as more large-scale businesses use apps for their conferences and events, more users will grow to trust the technology. Bizzabo has been used at events by Qualcomm, Deloitte, IBM and VentureBeat as well as independent companies...but still, 42 percent of event planners have never included an app in their event budgets, he noted.

Looking ahead, Alroy expects that demand for more “sophisticated and advanced” apps with increased integration will rise. “We will see apps connected directly to the registration platform,” he predicted. “This will be a big year in terms of taking things to the next level...Soon, it will be very hard to attend an event that is 'appless'”

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About the Author: Jena Tesse Fox

Jena Tesse Fox





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