Eventbase raises $6 million to appify conferences and trade shows

With a client list that already includes Sundance, Hewlett-Packard and SXSW, the Vancouver startup plans to double in size

Screenshot of Eventbase app

Eventbase’s apps provide organizers better user feedback than visitor surveys and are more useful for attendees. (Eventbase)

Imagine you’re at a conference. If you’re still making your way around with the help of a paper guide or website, your experience will be hit-and-miss. But new mobile apps can add value to your visit—not only by suggesting the best sessions to attend based on your past likes and dislikes, but with real-time schedule updates and hyperlocal networking.

“Attendees can find out who’s in the room with them and meet up,” says Jeff Sinclair, CEO of app developer Eventbase Technology Inc. “They can make better connections.”

With the announcement of US$6 million in new funding on December 8, Vancouver-based Eventbase has moved closer to its goal of becoming the app developer of choice for corporate events and conventions. It’s already the go-to guide for signature happenings including Comic-Con in San Diego and the Sundance Film Festival. At this year’s South By Southwest, Eventbase deployed more than 1,000 iBeacons around Austin, Texas, to help attendees navigate the various venues. On the enterprise side, it has repeat customers in SAP, Microsoft, Cisco Systems, and Hewlett-Packard.

In fact SXSW Tech LLC, a subsidiary of the music festival, was part of Eventbase’s earlier, $2-million round of funding in 2014. The new money comes from Madrona Venture Group and, Sinclair says, will help the company double its staff again next year. It currently has 72 employees in Vancouver and London, U.K.

If Eventbase can make gatherings more worthwhile for attendees, the payoff for organizers is even more tangible. “Getting a CTO of a large organization to fill out a survey of what they like and don’t like is next to impossible,” Sinclair says. “But those same people will spend hours going through the event app favoriting sessions they’re interested in, people they want to meet, exhibits they want to visit.”

Events remain the best way to introduce your customers to your products and build relationships between them and your staff, Sinclair says, noting how they now represent the largest component (12%) of business-to-business marketing budgets. “The growth in the event technology market is one to watch as more companies migrate their spending on event technology to mobile.”