This might seem like the worst time to be building an event software business, but it seems to be working for Bevy.com, which just announced that it has raised $15 million in Series B funding.
Co-founder and CEO Derek Andersen explained that the company had already started moving into virtual events when the conference business ground to a halt thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. And it's seen demand explode in the last few months.
For example, he pointed to how Duolingo has used the platform to host 1,000 events in the past six weeks, while Startup Grind went from a single virtual event in February (in Wuhan, China) to planning 600 for June. Salesforce is also using the platform, and community manager Sofía Rodríguez Mata said in a statement:
We've been blown away and inspired by our community's resilience amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Our customers are finding new and creative ways to learn, connect, have fun, and give back together. Although we feel the physical distance between us, it's beautiful to witness how someone in Morocco can be in the same event as someone in Brazil or New Zealand. With Bevy's help our user groups have organized 650 events with 20,000 RSVPs in the past few months.
Bevy actually emerged from Startup Grind —which Andersen also founded — to further develop and monetize the products that were initially built to help the entrepreneurial community organize hundreds of events around the world.
They're separate companies, although Andersen still leads both of them. He described Bevy as providing a "fully end-to-end virtual experience" for event organizers, offering tools for event creation and user registration while also integrating to other platforms like Zoom, Salesforce, Marketo and Meetup.
He also argued that these kinds of community events are key for companies pursuing a "customer-to-customer marketing model" — instead of flying field marketing teams into new locations (which again, isn't exactly feasible right now), you "empower customers to do this for you," both at events and on a more ongoing basis.
"Whether it’s virtual, or offline, in forums, chats, or events, C2C realizes the importance of taking the corporation out of the conversation and giving the torch to the customers at massive global scale," Andersen told me in a follow-up email.
Bevy previously raised a $6.4 million Series A. The new funding was led by Accel, with participation from existing investors Ryan Smith (the Qualtrics CEO is also joining Bevy's board of directors) and Upfront Ventures.
"No one understands how to build community and drive virtual marketing events at scale better than the team behind Bevy,” said Accel General Partner Ryan Sweeney in a statement. “Bevy has unmatched domain expertise and an award winning product that is already trending.”