When the COVID-19 pandemic hit last year, Bevy co-founder and CEO Derek Andersen knew it was going to be problematic for the in-person event conference startup.
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“I was just sitting here in March and we had no business,” he remembered. “I cleaned out my garage like three times.”
Fast-forward to today. After redesigning the platform to help with virtual events, Bevy is on pace to reach $30 million in ARR by the end of this year — a 15x increase from 2019 — and just closed a $40 million Series C round.
“Our customers just pivoted to taking everything virtual,” Andersen said. “We realized this just unlocked what we wanted to do in the sense we want to bring people together. So we pivoted hard.”
While Andersen is pleased with how the company adapted and grew, he also is excited about another initiative the company undertook last year after the killing of George Floyd; social change in the tech industry.
“A year ago, I’m incredibly embarrassed to say, we did not have a Black or brown employee,” Andersen said.
The company committed itself to lessening racial inequalities in the sector and now 14 percent of its employees are Black. That number is expected to be 20 percent by September. The 100-person company also expects to hire an additional 150 employees in the next year, Andersen said.
The new funding also represents that same commitment to diversity. While the round was led by Accel Partners and included participation from LinkedIn, Qualtrics co-founder Ryan Smith and Upfront Ventures, it also included money from 25 Black leaders and investors, Andersen said. In fact, 70 percent of the individuals participating in the round are Black investors — representing 25 percent of the money raised, he said.
Some of those individuals include James Lowry, the first African American consultant for global consulting firm McKinsey & Co. in 1968; current Facebook board member and EVP at PayPal Peggy Alford; and former Beats by Dre CMO Omar Johnson,
“This could be a model for Silicon Valley,” Lowry said. “This is a case where you have a founder who is going to put his money where his mouth is.”
Bevy’s platform allows companies to hold and scale their communities and host virtual conferences for between $20,000 and $1 million a year — enabling companies to quickly build their brand globally.
“Bevy really stood out as something quite unique in marketing tech — a software solution to help create a brand,” said Kobie Fuller, general partner at Upfront and founder/chairman of Valence.
Bevy has raised more than $60 million in funding to date. Andersen said the company will continue to build on its platform and is looking forward to the post-pandemic world where in-person events will join virtual.
He and the rest of the company also are looking forward to continuing their drive for social change in the tech industry.
“Companies never really had a playbook on how to do this,” Lowry said of becoming more diverse. “We are now giving them a playbook and they want to run with it.
“We are writing a case study,” he said.
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias.
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