[Exclusive] KonfHub Says Virtual Is The New Normal For Events Industry; Conferences Will Go Online In A Big Way
From a seed capital of Rs 50,000 in 2019 to revenues of Rs 1 crore within a year: This has been the rollercoaster ride for KonfHub, a platform for discovering and hosting high-quality technical events (mainly conferences), leveraging the power of cloud-based technologies.
Now, with the coronavirus impact, and the lockdown, the conference industry has been a sudden slump in business.
What next for the conferences and events industry?
We spoke with KonfHub’s founders, and asked these questions along with their journey, their plans and their next steps.
Here is an excerpt from the interview.
Question: Briefly explain the journey of KonfHub- its founding year, founding members, the problem area it aims to address through the platform
Unprecedented advancements in technology and the growing complexity of challenges demand novel approaches to innovation. High-quality tech conferences and events in the new world order are the best avenues for developers, entrepreneurs, product leaders, investors, and creators to “learn, network, grow”. Organizing technical conferences is a highly-complex task. The absence of a single platform that connects organizers, speakers, sponsors, and attendees laid the foundation of KonfHub. Co-founded by Hari Kiran Kumar G and Ganesh Samarthyam in the year 2019, KonfHub bridges the gap by providing a platform that ensures seamless and end-to-end execution of organizing a technology conference. KonfHub is part of virtual incubation from the NASSCOM 10k Startups program.
Question: Please mention the key differentiators of KonfHub vis-à-vis other competitors
Modern architecture and effective adoption of cutting-edge cloud technologies are the key distinctive factors of KonfHub. These traits have paved the way for a robust and value for money infrastructure providing a major competitive advantage. Riding on this infrastructure, KonfHub successfully offers world class services to its customers and users, and reduced cost for the end-users who are using the KonfHub platform.
While a majority of players in this space are addressing various challenges and issues partly, what sets KonfHub apart is its ability to offer holistic services that are a win-win to organizers and sponsors alike. With a click of the button or a phone call, one can foresee his technology event being a grand success with KonfHub. It also offers services pertaining to organizing community events. KonfHub offers a wide range of products and services including end-to-end conferences for corporates, robust platform for ticketing, outreach services for registrations, different mobile apps for the registration desk, sponsors to capture booth visitor details, participant feedback for the event and gamifying the conference.
Question: How is the industry poised to grow, keeping the current situation in mind? Mention growth aspect of the industry and the company in the next 2-3 years?
A recent survey by EEMA (Events and Entertainment Management Association) suggests that the Indian events and exhibition sector is expected to take an INR 1 Tn hit as almost all big scale events across categories have been postponed or cancelled because of the outbreak.
But the never dying spirit of startup innovation in India is helping the industry to survive with cloud-based technologies making Virtual Events the next big success. Virtual events, trade shows and conferences are surpassing industry expectations and are growing leaps and bounds.
Various studies have revealed that by the end of this year, 80% of internet traffic would be from virtual conferencing. Cisco has projected that more than 80% of all Internet traffic will be video by 2021. As per Synergy Research, the video conferencing and collaboration market is set to grow to well over $6 billion in 2019.
Enterprises in India have now realized the significance of modern cloud and are transforming their IT infrastructure on cloud. A recent report by IDC has stated that as a result of the spread of the pandemic, 64 per cent of the organisations in India are expected to increase demand for cloud computing while 56 per cent for cloud software to support the new normal.
Technology events and conferences worldwide require novel approaches as they are highly-complex tasks. The recent transition from offline to online has made it even more challenging. Cloud has given stability and flexibility to this ‘everything virtual or online’. With social distancing “Virtual” has become the ‘next normal’ and businesses are heavily shifting towards virtual conferences and online events.
For instance, tech giant Microsoft has completely digitized its events and now they are empowering virtual platforms like KonfHub for IT and software professionals to get future ready in the ‘Cloud Powered Virtual World’ by connecting them with future technologies such as Azure, Cloud, AI, ML etc. Virtual initiatives such as Azure Developer Stories are now taking skills of India’s professional developers on the global stage by inspiring Developer Stories on technical solutions for dealing with COVID-19 and other scenarios.
We are witnessing a great demand and traction for virtual technical events and conferences as they are great platforms to learn from experts. In the COVID-19 world, networking has got a different meaning as social distancing has become a global mandate and the need of the hour. With virtual meetings, webinars and conferences, connecting to people remotely has become more efficient, impactful and easier. Collaboration, team spirit and up-skilling have gone online to redefine how we grow in near future.
Question: What are the critical factors for success in your business?
KonfHub has built communities organically from scratch. Word-of-mouth and high value recommendations due to our highly successful events and seamless services in past have so far defined our success. We are a platform for techies, by techies. Our unique positioning has given us an edge over all the existing offerings in the market. Most of the event organizers are non-techies and couldn’t understand or handle tech events well as it’s a very challenging and technical task. Also, the existing players in the category are focusing on organizing their own events and are not technology-neutral in the events. KonfHub offers technology-neutral events where developers gain insights from all the competitors’ offerings under a single umbrella. Raising funds through outreach to sell tickets and get sponsorships is one of the main pain-point faced by event organizers. A lot of ticketing platforms fails to address this critical issue.
Question: Please mention the key opportunities and challenges for KonfHub and the industry it operates in?
The online events industry is experiencing a huge paradigm shift in the COVID-19 world and is expected to grow strongly in the post COVID-19 era. With the focus shifting from offline to online, KonfHub is riding on cloud-based technologies for this instant transformation. From offering flexibility to attend conferences at the comfort of one’s home to extending one’s digital network exponentially, we firmly believe that these two factors are going to be the primary game changers.
The need for upskilling, switching to better roles, and exploring and adapting newer technologies has been the precursor for the rapid growth of technology and developer communities. In the current economic downturn and job crisis scenario, developer networking even become more significant than ever. A good online network means better possibilities of gaining referrals and being a part of the organization one always aimed for. KonfHub addresses these problems of learning new technologies, career growth, and expanding one’s professional network through a single solution – organizing online events, which is set to grow exponentially in the next 2–3 years.
Question: What was the seed investment in the company? Are you planning to raise funds in the future?
The company started with a boot strapped investment of INR 50,000. In less than a year, we crossed revenue of INR 1 Crore and growing fast. We are open for funds from potential investors to grow and expand in near future.
Question: Please share the expected revenue in the next 2 years? You can also mention about the expected growth rate of the company in the next 2 years.
As we expand our existing capacity and capability in marketing, sales, and engineering, we are anticipating a manifold growth in the next 2 years.
Question: Kindly mention about your revenue generation model
Revenues are generated through ticket sales, sponsorships, and event organization services.
Question: Please explain about the various technologies being deployed by your platform
KonfHub is powered by world class technologies to create a superior and seamless platform. The front-end is developed with ReactJS and the backend is entirely based on the modern serverless (cloud) platform.