‘Had to say no to investors now,’ says the founder of Airmeet, India's alternative to Zoom, after raising $12 million from Sequoia

Airmeet
  • Just a year old, Airmeet has since seen its business grow rapidly, thanks to the COVID lockdown.
  • The startup’s co-founder Lalit Mangal shares with us how the company has registered a 2000% growth over the last quarter.
  • The startup has raised $12 million in Series A funding from new investor Sequoia India and existing investors Accel India, Venture Highway and Global Founders Capital (GFC), and others.
At the beginning of the coronavirus lockdown, the new buzz word in the corporate world was ‘webinar’; everyone was hosting one, and the likes of Zoom saw their stock price and revenue numbers skyrocket.

Closer home, Airmeet, just a one-year-old startup, was handling more business than it had imagined, that too just a few months into its official launch. Essentially an alternative to Zoom, Airmeet wants to be the virtual replacement of a physical venue for events.

Today, the startup has raised $12 million in Series A funding from new investor Sequoia India and existing investors Accel India, Venture Highway, Global Founders Capital (GFC), and Gokul Rajaram (Caviar Lead at Doordash).

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The startup’s co-founder, Lalit Mangal, shares with Business Insider how the company has registered a 2000% growth over the last quarter and his vision on the growth of the online events industry.

Had to say no to the investors who once rejected him

A year ago, when Mangal was looking for funding, he met with investors who had told him, “interesting idea, but come back later”. Now, without taking names, Mangal says he had to say no to those same investors.

The all-in-one platform for event organizers to host interactive and immersive virtual events, Airmeet saw value in the space even before the COVID pandemic struck. But it was this pandemic that truly unlocked its potential. “With COVID, people have embraced virtual events. People weren’t compelled before, but now they are – some are even on their 50th virtual event or more this year,” said Mangal.
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Airmeet, which organised its first virtual event on November 16, 2019 was doing barely 20 events a month, but after the lockdown its conducting 1000 events per month, and has already seen over 10,000 events being held on the platform.

‘Online’ allows people to hold high-value events for cheap

Mangal shares that at Airmeet, they offer full customizations and even virtual seating arrangements. “We have created a product which ensures that an event manager doesn’t need to reimagine the event online,” he said.
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And while webinars are just a standalone event, Mangal shares that now even multi-day, complex agenda events are also going online. “Location based events made the event not feasible, as you don’t have the budgets and you can’t fly in so many people and those are now online,” he said.

Mangal shared the example of a recently held ‘World Librarian Summit’ on Airmeet. “That’s something people won’t have the budget to do offline, but online we saw over 200 people participating,” he said.

And there are also many who, according to Mangal, have now sworn off offline events. Headstart recently held its internship fair, which saw participants from all across India, and over 200 offers were rolled out from startups even from South East Asia. “If it happened offline, the participation would be so restrictive and virtually it was a hit. They have now decided they will not have an offline fair next time,” he said.
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With the latest investment, the company, which has always been a remote-work startup, now plans to accelerate technology development and grow the team of 60 (across six countries) to 100.

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