“Pivot” has been a word that managers and marketers have been seeing all over the internet since the start of the pandemic. At this time, companies were deciding if they needed to take a hiatus, but those poised to move to a digital space had big growth opportunities and market demand. The most successful companies of the pandemic shifted their strategy to meet new market demands, and ibentos is a perfect example of a company made that magical pivot.
The founders of ibentos come with 13 years of experience in event technology & marketing and offer ground-breaking solutions to event organizers. Originally focussing on event marketing and technology for in person events, they took the opportunity of the pandemic to launch a virtual, hybrid, and in-person events platform for the metaverse.
What Is the Metaverse?
The Metaverse refers to a virtual-reality 3D space where users can interact with other people and the digital environment. The goal of using the Metaverse is to elevate customer experiences. One misconception about the Metaverse is that it exists only for immersive gaming purposes, but it’s so much more than that.
The closest representation of the metaverse is the 2011 science fiction novel Ready Player One. If you’re wondering how far off we are from this universe, Facebook is already on its way to creating its version of OASIS through Facebook Horizon. Consumers can access this virtual world using the Oculus Rift or the Oculus Quest 2 headgear.
Imagine the possibilities for the events industry, from online learning platforms to virtual conferences to digital trade shows.
The ibentos Journey
A successful young business will need to remain agile enough to take advantage of the opportunities presented to them. When ibentos was founded, it was 4 people who worked round the clock to launch their MVP. Just a month after holding an educational fair to connect all the universities in India to potential clients, they were presented with their first international project. To this day they’ve executed over 3000 virtual and hybrid events for 80+ customers.
During the beginning of COVID – the event industry was in pain. In-person events were canceled. Organizers were out of business and were laying off their employees. To address this need of keeping the industry alive, a lot of virtual event platforms, like ibentos came to rescue. ibentos was a new venture and this was a turning point for Bhatia, his team and business. Their biggest achievement during this period was that they were able to support and retain all of their employees (a team of 50+) during the tough times, due to this quick adaptation of their event technology solutions.
Co-founder & CEO, Harpreet Bhatia says, ‘When you are working for an organization, you bring a change in your life. But entrepreneurship gives you the power & opportunity to bring change in the lives of others – of your employees, your society, your industry, country & the world. Every country depends on its entrepreneurs for development. They are like economic soldiers of a country who generate employment, lead the way by finding innovative solutions to various issues of the country and creating a self-sufficient society. The change that I can bring in my capacity is what drives me to keep innovating & keep moving forward.”
While companies were shutting down or filing bankruptcies, ibentos was giving bonuses and hikes to their team. By building a virtual platform, they gave the industry a ray of hope. They could continue their businesses now, stay in touch with their clients, generate revenue (in fact, more than before) and could retain their employees as well.
An Entrepreneurial Journey is Rarely a Straight Line
Harpreet talked to us a little bit more about his entrepreneurial journey, and some of the challenges he has faced along the way –
To be an entrepreneur, one must be willing to take on challenges. Entrepreneurs face numerous hurdles in today’s hyper-competitive business climate. And my well-wishers and loved ones always made me aware of it. I’ve always believed that entrepreneurship is my true calling, it’s what I was born to do. But I would be lying if I said it was a smooth sailing journey.
When when I started my entrepreneurial journey in 2009, the first and most difficult challenge for me was quitting my stable high-paying position and announcing my venture/idea to the world and family, as well as committing the funds and credit I had. It was, without a doubt, the biggest risk I’ve ever taken. And trust me when I say I was handed with my fair share of curve balls.
I began my business venture from my own house. While it appeared unrealistic and foolish to others, I was confident that this was only the beginning of what I envision as a great business. It was not easy to find the suitable talent for the startup. But the universe was on my side, and after many trials and tribulations, I was able to find staff who were and continue to be true gems in my endeavor.
The next step was to earn the trust of customers and clients. I recall spending several nights developing pitches and sending out mailers in the hopes of receiving a chance to showcase and prove the excellence of our goods and services to potential clients. I still recall how thrilled I was when we cracked our first sale. Even though we bent our backs backwards to adjust their needs and specifications, It was the most significant achievement of my life.
Even though Harpreet’s ideas were rejected many times along the way, he never doubted himself. He shares, “I had responsibilities not only to myself and my family but also to my employees as well…. there is no going back.”
The most important lessons He’s learned as an entrepreneur include;
- To never give up on yourself; if you don’t believe in yourself, who will? Everything will ultimately fall into place if you are passionate about something and work hard at it.
- Be patient with yourself and remember that good results take time.
- Finally, but certainly not least. Make a move! Great ideas are abundant in the world, but only action leads to success. Walt Disney once said that the easiest way to get started is to quit talking and start doing. I took the leap of faith and the rest is history.
The Virtual Events Industry: An Overview
In 2021, the virtual events market size reached $114.12B, and is expected to grow with a compound annual growth rate of 21.4% by 2030. The clamour for virtual events doubled in 2020 when the pandemic forced governments to impose restrictions on physical gatherings. Because of a growth in demand, brands discovered the benefits of hosting virtual events, including their cost-efficiency and time efficacy.
Many were learning the intricacies of this technology while relying on it for day to day operations. In virtual events, weak internet strength, malfunctioning equipment, and lack of two-way communication can ruin the experience for all participants. Despite these challenges, virtual events organizers continue addressing trends such as micro-events, personalized content, and socializing components.
How Will the Metaverse Impact the Digital Events Industry?
Do you remember when experts thought virtual events were a temporary solution to communication gaps during the pandemic? Well, Metaverse and other industry leaders made sure they’re here to stay.
With mega-brands like Meta supporting the industry, and innovative technology solutions like ibentos, there’s no doubt it will experience rapid growth in the next few years.
What’s Next for ibentos?
In the next six months, the company will be ready to launch their community platform for brands, associations and organizations can use it for their digital content repository along with networking, marketplace and live conferences.
In the next 1-2 years, the company plans to raise funds for launching a DIY Metaverse events platform and launch a large-scale partner program globally. In the next 5 years, the company plans to launch the first around the clock event support centre to ensure all events are hand held to keep our stakeholders one step ahead, and take ibentos through its IPO.
Grow Your Business Through Digital Events
Virtual events are some of the fastest, most cost-effective ways to penetrate the North American market. They’re an ideal tool for launching, growing, and scaling small and medium international enterprises.
Are you ready to take your business to new heights? We can help.
TBDC is Toronto’s first startup incubator. Located in the heart of the downtown core, our team and ecosystem partners help set you up for success in the North American market. We offer access to business advisory support, a diverse pool of entrepreneurial-minded communities in a professional environment, and a highly curated calendar of events that are designed to move your business forward. Book a Call now to begin your growth journey.