With offline events now firmly moved online for the foreseeable future, startups in the network space have had to pivot quickly in the face of the pandemic. One of them was Grip, previously best known as a networking app for physical conferences (including TechCrunch Disrupt, at one point). Since last year, Grip has moved to an âomnichannelâ experience, combining different types of virtual, hybrid and live events. This strategy appears to have paid off as it has now raised a $ 13 million Series A round of funding, bringing its total amount raised to $ 14.5 million.
The round was led by London-based growth equity fund Kennet Partners. The increase reflects the boom in online events, which saw London-based startup Hopin raise a $ 40 million Series A last year. Founded in 2016, Grip’s clients include major event planners, including Reed Exhibitions and Messe Frankfurt.
In a statement, Tim Groot, CEO and Founder of Grip, said: âOur mission is to empower organizers to bring together professionals to move industries forward. This funding round will allow us to take the experience to a new level, leveraging our broad, industry-leading platform, delivering unique value for virtual, hybrid and in-person events.
He said they would now invest heavily in the product and look to global expansion.
Grip’s other competitors have, in the past, included Brella, which has raised $ 1.5 million, and Swapcard, which has raised $ 6 million to date.
So why does Grip seem to have stepped away from the pack in this way?
Groot told me, âWe’ve taken a slightly different approach in that we’ve been able to work in a plug-and-play way alongside other platforms. Thus, grip is used as a stand-alone virtual event platform by many organizers. So they could use Hopin for the conference but Grip for the networking. So maybe we were able to get more traction that way, during 2020. â
In 2020, following the pivot to virtual events, Grip hosted more than 100 events per month and was used by 1.5 million people. As a result, the company says its revenue nearly quadrupled in 2020, and this year it expects to host more than 10,000 events on its platform, with more than 5 million attendees.
AI-powered Grips algorithms mean attendees receive more personalized match recommendations based on their interests, including scheduling pre-event meetings. For exhibitors, the software captures sales leads and provides post-event analysis.
People can be added to meetings to have group conversations, and the startup is also working on a topic-based âfast networkingâ feature to have three-minute instant conversations.
Grip integrates with various streaming platforms such as Vimeo, YouTube, Zoom, BlueJeans and others, unlike âfull-serviceâ platforms such as Hopin or Bizzabo.
Hillel Zidel, Partner at Kennet and Grip Board Member, added: âGrip’s ability to host virtual events with an emphasis on networking has allowed the company to experience tremendous growth over the course of from last year. Event planners and their clients were able to stay connected with their clients despite the constraints on in-person events. As live events pick up in the future, Grip is uniquely positioned to continue to support event planners by providing them with software solutions that support live, virtual and hybrid events.
Brent Hoberman, Founders Factory co-founder and former investor, said: âGrip arose out of a need we saw when hosting events at the Founders Forum: how do you use smart technology to catalyze events? most relevant and valuable connections between your guests? ? “