Investing in Post-Pandemic Corporate Events


Planned is an all-in-one event planning platform for corporations founded in Montreal back in 2017 when it was known as Entr.  Co-founders Marc-Antoine Bonin and Emeric Noel have had to reinvent the business a little since then, and apparently they’ve done it right. Today the company has announced that it has raised a series A VC investment worth $4.7 million, with participation from Inovia Capital, Telegraph Hill Capital and N49P. This brings their total raised so far to $7 million.

The money will be used to position the business to be a leader in corporate event planning in a post-pandemic world. What does that look like? Bonin tells MTLinTechnology that since the beginning of the pandemic, they adopted a new business strategy focussed around three main pillars; 1- Additional focus on their product / 2- Extending their runway / 3- Building & maintaining client relationships.

“Before COVID-19 hit, we were starting to scale our operations in the US. We launched an office in New York in November 2019, and were starting to see traction. With all the new requests, we were forecasting February to be by far the best month of sales in the history of the company. However, at the end of the month, as the fear of COVID was slowly ramping up, very few clients wanted to sign event contracts – most of them put everything on hold. We knew at this point that something was coming up and that we needed to adapt quickly.”

Bonin added that by the second week of March, a great many clients contacted his team to cancel their bookings for all their events scheduled in 2020. Since then, the market for corporate in-person events has been in freefall.

Recent news of promising Covid-19 vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna and potentially even AstraZeneca are the first true light at the end of the tunnel for this business. It had worked with clients such as working with clients like Google, Michelin, Amazon, BMO, Airbnb and E&Y pre-pandemic. The Planned team expects that when corporate events do eventually return, they will be smaller and local at first. There may even be a good number of hybrid events, where some participants attend an event in person, while others will participate online only.

“However, once it is safe again, we believe that we will see a surge of internal events. With remote work becoming more the norm, we believe that companies will try to create more opportunities to bring teams together to create relationships and affiliation with the company” said Bonin.

Until then, the company is sticking with its strategy and trying to make at as easy as possible for its clients to navigate their way through Covid restrictions. One example it the new Covid-19 map is makes available to customers in the US and Canada, which outlines restrictions in all 63 jurisdictions. Other new features include an online marketplace of venues and vendors for in-person, hybrid, or virtual events as well as exclusive pricing and centralized, online planning tools for event planners.

“I am proud to continue to support Planned. Enterprises traditionally host and spend significant dollars on many events for multiple reasons. Unlike travel, most enterprises have limited visibility on the spend and have no easy way to organize events. Planned is working to change that and has traction with many enterprises. As the event space changed, Planned reacted quickly and continues to impress me and the other investors.”, said Alex Norman, partner at N49P Ventures.

In a statement, Planned points to a recent survey from APCO Insight, showing that American adults are excited to return to in-person events once it’s safe. 83% responding they miss attending in-person meetings and conventions, and 78% say they plan to attend as many or more events post-pandemic.

“We’ve also spent this time connecting with our customers through our Discovery program, which is made up of hundreds of top planners, helping us create the most useful solution possible. Through our conversations, we know that when it is safe, people will quickly switch back to in-person events, searching for a human connection. With the long-lasting uncertainties that will hover  ver our industry post-pandemic, we see Planned as being a key tool to help companies plan in-person and hybrid events, safely” added Bonin.

He went on to explain that it’s still difficult to gauge the impact of Covid on the company’s valuation, but he believes that as painful as Covid has been, Planned will end up being a far better business than it was prior. “If in 2021 we continue to bring talented people to the team and showcase adoption in the platform, I’m confident that we will be in a great position for our next round of funding.”

 

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