Covid-19 completely transformed events industry: B2B Sales Arrow CEO
There is no work left for physical events whereas, virtual events space made 180 degree shift due to pandemic
Access to physical spaces has been replaced with virtual experience, owing to the change in preference of work and human connection. While some industry segments such as tourism and aviation suffered greatly because of restriction on access to physical spaces, marketing technology organisations have scored big in the virtual and digital space. Paras Lohani, Founder and CEO, B2B Sales Arrow, a Bengaluru-based company in an exclusive conversation with BIZZ BUZZ elaborates on how virtual events, live streaming and technology like Human Powered Marketing Intelligence (HPMI) have gained traction due to Covid pandemic
What is the revenue generation model of your company?
I started the business in 2012, and it was completely self-financed with mere savings of Rs 1.5 lakh. We followed a very simple strategy, identified smaller clients, served them and they gave us business. Gradually, we started targeting mid-level clients (companies), and then eventually big clients. At present, there are multi-billion-dollar organisations that we are already catering to.
Within these organisations we started with small projects and then one unit (company) recommend us to the other units. However, in Covid, our growth became from linear to little bit towards exponential. We did a lot of investments into technology and we started doing lots of small experiments. We received projects which were lucrative.
Any immediate plans to launch seed funding rounds?
Presently, the organisation has this firm belief that we are generating enough revenue with very healthy margins. We are reinvesting the same profit that we are earning into the organisation. For all our endeavours, technology building, we are funding from our profits. We see no reason or requirement of any funding at all. But we are thinking about developing some of our products. It (seed funding) maybe a future option but not as of now.
Companies have started spending heavily on virtual rather than physical. Transition from physical world to virtual world is something we could tap into and get some advantage. At the beginning of the pandemic, it was one or two events in a month. Now, we are handling five to six events in a month. So, there are multiple projects running parallel. As the months are progressing, we are seeing that the growth is exponential
We started doing small experiments within the organisation. We kept on iterating and evolving with new ideas and offerings. One that really clicked was virtual events. The organisations we were catering to have moved from physical to virtual. It was not a small change in terms of the delivery because you have to know the technology behind, you have to be very conversant
Your company grew 40 per cent since the beginning of the pandemic, what is your company value as of today?
So, we have grown more than 60 per cent in the past one and a half years. As of now, we haven't done any kind of assessment into the valuation of the organisation. Simple reason being, we never opted for any of our stakes to be put into the market or for funding. However, I have received lots of requirements for partners and venture funding. We have members from 20 different states and we are adding in new ones continuously. Team size has grown by almost 30 per cent to 40 per cent in past 18 months.
What was the business trend, for your company, before the pandemic versus now?
Earlier, we were focusing, primarily, on business development such as database search, lead generation and we used to do what of global events, build leads, getting more business for our clients. As you can imagine, because of Covid, there is no work left for the global physical events. That part of business has completely shut down. But the lead generation services continued. Initially, everyone was trying to make sense out of it (Covid-19 shut down), so there were drastic budget cuts. We were in tight situation in last year March and April. We were too much in debt in that period. We could not see any silver lining. We were getting less work and lesser money.
We started doing small experiments within the organisation. We kept on iterating and evolving with new ideas and offerings. One that really clicked was virtual events. The organisations we were catering to have moved from physical to virtual. It was not a small change in terms of the delivery because you have to know the technology behind, you have to be very conversant.
I did not even imagine such a thing one and a half years back, but now we have delivered 40-50 virtual events across the globe. And now we are in a very different territory. Now, with resurgence of Covid, organisations are keeping separate budget for their virtual and digital initiatives. Another thing we have started is Human Powered Marketing Intelligence (HPMI), which is all about deep market research. We are getting information from web analytics, Account Based Marketing (ABM) platforms, social media platforms and helping our clients make consolidated, account-based report that helps the company towards deeper targeting.
Another major experiment we did was with live streaming and media production. This was something suiting to virtual and digital connection. Companies have started spending heavily on virtual rather than physical. Transition from physical world to virtual world is something we could tap into and get some advantage.
With greater inflow of projects, how are you expanding your current workforce?
We are hiring people from Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities. I come from Tier-2 city of Kota, Rajasthan. I stayed in Manhattan, New York, and when the pandemic hit, I stayed in Bangalore alone. But as Covid advanced, I shifted to Kota to stay with my family. What we have seen is we are getting high-quality, world-class dream-team available at a much-reduced price. We are getting business from the US, Europe-based MNCs and adding those dollars and pounds into the Indian economy, thus creating employment in the Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities.
We are a team of 48 people and we are planning to add five more to our team. Our clients are from all over the world, but the team is indigenous.
Before Covid, how many virtual events were you conducting? And now how many virtual events has your company organised?
Honestly, before Covid, the answer is zero. Because none of our clients were investing in virtual events, so it was like a total waste. Face-to-face connection, physical meets were way more important. Which is why I was based out of New York back then because it was easier to take travel to Europe and parts of US. None of the organisation were giving a heed to this (virtual event) idea. It is a complete 180 degree shift now. That is the kind of transition we have observed. At the beginning of the pandemic, it was one or two events in a month. Now, we are handling five to six events in a month. So, there are multiple projects running parallel. As the months are progressing, we are seeing that the growth is exponential.
Which industry makes your major client base?
Our main client is coming from IT products and IT servicing. Globally, every sector, every company has started heavily spending on their digital infrastructure. In addition to this, we have to target other B2B segments as well. So, now we are also focusing on telecommunication, consulting, accounting and we are getting some traction from there as well.
As of now you are catering to big MNC, and multi-billion-dollar companies. Any scope of working for MSME segment, companies with turnover of less than Rs 5 crores?
As of now, our plan is to tie up with companies who have 500-600 employees. But below that, as of now, we are not targeting. Few believe that first we need to have our own infrastructure prepared in a robust manner and only then we will be able to create some new business models to MSME. So, as of now we are focusing on bigger companies.