Validate your idea — Take a poll, speak to 100 people about your idea before you start your venture. It is not about assuming that you have a solution, it is knowing that you have what is required to develop the solution.
The COVID19 pandemic has disrupted all of our lives. But sometimes disruptions can be times of opportunity. Many people’s livelihoods have been hurt by the pandemic. But some saw this as an opportune time to take their lives in a new direction.
As a part of this series called “How I Was Able To Pivot To A New Exciting Opportunity Because Of The Pandemic”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Vaibhav Jain.
Vaibhav is the CEO and Founder of the leading global event technology company Hubilo. Under Jain’s leadership and expertise, the company today has a very strong footprint in India and US markets with clients like United Nations, Roche, Informa Markets, Tech in Asia, Fortune, GITEX and many others. A computer graduate from Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology (DA- IICT), Vaibhav has ten years of marketing, operations, finance and sales experience in the Information Technology sector.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
Growing up in a very small town in Gujarat, India, I wasn’t particularly interested in nor dedicated to my studies. Like most pre-teen boys, my interests were limited to art and watching movies, which resulted in failing grades. In the seventh grade, I refocused my efforts, by the tenth grade, I was top in the entire state. This sequence of events made me realize I was capable of achieving anything if I were willing to work on it and truly shaped me into the person that I am today.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“For the want of a nail the shoe was lost, For the want of a shoe the horse was lost, For the want of a horse the rider was lost, For the want of a rider the battle was lost, For the want of a battle the kingdom was lost, And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.” — Benjamin Franklin
As an entrepreneur, you can easily get caught up in the big picture. Where are we going, how can we grow swiftly and quickly, etc. This quote from Benjamin Franklin reminds us of the importance that lies in the minutiae and that the neglect of small details can lead to great losses. His quote has inspired me to stay focused and become more detail-oriented.
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
I was truly inspired to start my entrepreneurial venture after reading Start-up Nation by Dan Senor and Saul Singer, a story about Israel’s Economic Miracle. The book takes you through the journey of entrepreneurs in military camps where the focus is on the niche segments of the industry which results in major ideas, inventions and evolutions. This is where I derived inspiration to start my own venture.
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before the Pandemic began?
I co-founded Hubilo and have served as the CEO since its inception close to 5 years ago. Prior to founding Hubilo, I had ten years of marketing, operations, finance and sales experience in the Information Technology sector. At Hubilo we were predominantly working on physical events; but due to the pandemic, we decided to develop a hybrid model in order to fill the required gap in the market.
What did you do to pivot as a result of the Pandemic?
During the virus outbreak at the beginning of the year, I began to receive several technical queries from clients regarding their day-to-day operations, especially in the context of video conferences and important internal events. It was very difficult to give sound suggestions that would technically help in all of these areas. In order to resolve this, we decided to develop a virtual platform that would assist and give solutions to all of these concerns.
The virtual event management platform is majorly integrated with technology tools such as real-time networking, a networking lounge where attendees can connect and video chat with others who have similar interests and queries. We have included virtual booths that provide sponsors a separate online space to market their products, speaker lounges where attendees can see a list of all event speakers and their sessions and register and add sessions to their event itinerary. With live and on-demand sessions, automated registrations and ticket processes, 24/7 customer care service and access to the Hubilo app, the entire event can be synchronized.
Can you tell us about the specific “Aha moment” that gave you the idea to start this new path?
Knowing that we were at a pivotal point in the events marketing space, our team worked diligently to produce an explanatory brief on how a virtual events model could be successfully adopted and the changes it could produce. The file was accessed and downloaded in large numbers, and we knew that our innovation would give excellent results.
How are things going with this new initiative?
We have been very fortunate and seen tremendous growth during the pandemic and we were able to achieve our two-year revenue target in six months. In this period, we have served more than 300 clients who have hosted more than 450 events on our platform with some events having as many as 50k attendees.
Though the revenue ramp-up has been exciting, what drives us the most is this opportunity to redefine and architect the marketing landscape that will emerge around virtual events and unlock massive value for key stakeholders, such as CMOs, event organizers, and sponsors.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I am incredibly proud of our entire team who worked strategically and tirelessly to adapt to the changing times. The marketing and sales teams played a large part, but during the pandemic, it was the technology team led by Mayank Agarwal, Co-Founder and CTO at Hubilo, that has brought in the success we have achieved today. The entire technology team developed the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) virtual event platform in a short window of just 20 days, working day in and day out without a single holiday.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?
Raising funds is an interesting experience by itself. Pitching creatively is an art one needs to develop and perfect in order to receive the required investments. Our recent round of funding, which was announced in October, was the very first time I had the opportunity to nurture this skill. I worked for months understanding the ins and out of how funding is raised, planning and strategizing and finally choosing the right investors for Hubilo. This process and the learnings along the way will always stay with me.
What are your “4 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Focus on a large market– In the industry, people will change, the product will change but your market won’t.
- Validate your idea — Take a poll, speak to 100 people about your idea before you start your venture. It is not about assuming that you have a solution, it is knowing that you have what is required to develop the solution.
- Choose investors wisely — Nobody is doing you a favour by investing in your company, on the contrary, you are letting someone become an integral part of your company. So, make this choice after proper due diligence.
- Share equity carefully — Equity in a start-up matters a lot, so be judicious about whom you share it with.
So many of us have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. Can you share the strategies that you have used to optimize your mental wellness during this stressful period?
I work on manifestations through visualizations on a daily basis. Picturing a positive image or an outcome keeps you motivated through a difficult phase. And, I watch animated movies; they are complete stress busters.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I would like to invest in children learning and playing games like monopoly and chess at an early age. Entrepreneurs today are highly competitive and so is the market. These games can develop intuition and strategic minds during adolescence that can shape decision making.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!
Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft
It is easy to work on innovations or bring in a change when you are working with a team of 30 members. Mr. Nadella brought in a culture of innovation amongst employees, in a large organization, from the top to the bottom. I would like to understand and learn how he navigated and implemented this and has continued to lead the company in the right direction.
How can our readers follow you online?
They can reach out to me and connect on LinkedIn — https://www.linkedin.com/in/va1bhav/
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!