The global events and meetings industry is a powerhouse, driving billions of dollars in economic activity with countless business opportunities. The dynamic tech landscape is continually reshaping the way we approach business events. Founded by Younghak Ahn, EVENTUS is not just another startup; it’s a tech force rewriting the script for business events, and its impact is felt far beyond Korean shores.
In this exclusive interview, Younghak Ahn, the CEO and Founder of EVENTUS shares insights into his journey, the platform’s mission, and their ambitious plans for the future.
Founding Visions that Fuel Innovation
Younghak Ahn’s journey into entrepreneurship began with a passion for addressing real-world problems. As a software engineering student, he set on a mission to transform South Korea’s education environment. The country’s education system predominantly relied on one-way knowledge transfer, and Ahn believed that information technology could alter this landscape.
“We created an educational SaaS that enabled real-time two-way communication between teachers and students through IT. While there was demand from both teachers and students, it was difficult to charge them due to the nature of educational software,” Ahn explains.
This initial foray led him to identify a more pressing need in the lecture and seminar market. “Lectures and seminars share a similar process with education, and because there are even more people involved, it necessitated bidirectional communication between speakers and the audience,” he notes. This transition marked the beginning of EVENTUS, as they ventured into automating tasks within the event operations process and accumulating valuable data.
Driving Force Behind EVENTUS
While expanding services into the lecture and seminar market, Ahn recognized the glaring inefficiencies in business event preparation and operations. “During the preparation and operation of business events, I realized that numerous tasks were still being carried out manually, relying heavily on human resources, despite the era of IT. The digital transformation of the business events industry was remarkably slow. That’s why we created EVENTUS, automating most tasks of business events with IT and enabling data analysis,” Ahn shares.
The inefficiencies in the business events industry significantly impacted B2B sales.
“Events play a crucial role in B2B sales. To engage in B2B sales, you first need to secure a database of potential customers and then nurture the acquired leads to conduct the sales.”Ahn highlights.
EVENTUS helps acquire potential customers and provides data statistics on which channels have the most inflow, how registrations were made, and the effectiveness of promotions. EVENTUS automates tasks through event SaaS, reducing workforce and costs while recording and scoring attendees’ behaviors and actions during the event.
A Cohesive Founding Team
For any startup, the team behind it plays a major role in shaping its success. EVENTUS has a cohesive founding team that has been together for nine years without any departures. Younghak Ahn serves as the CEO, with Sanghyuk Lee providing management support. Jeongsu Lee, as the Chief Product Officer, oversees product development. Jaewoo Ahn and Jungho Choi lead the development team.
“Currently, we have a team of five co-founders who have been together for nine years without any departures,” Ahn explains. “Jeongsu Lee and Sanghyuk Lee were senior classmates at university, and we collaborated on several projects together. Jaewoo Ahn and Jungho Choi, on the other hand, participated in a government-supported development education program together.”
This cohesive founding team has played a crucial role in the journey of EVENTUS, ensuring stability and consistency as they navigated the challenges of entrepreneurship.
Solving a Critical Problem
EVENTUS addresses a critical issue within the business events industry in Korea. “In the business events industry in Korea, the low IT penetration results in a significant workforce and financial costs. In addition, there is a lack of data to measure event effectiveness, such as statistics for acquiring event participants at a lower cost and nurturing customers through events,” Ahn observes.
With an impressive user base of 300,000 monthly users, EVENTUS helps businesses acquire potential customers and provides data statistics to optimize marketing efforts. “At the event venue, EVENTUS automates tasks through event SaaS, reducing manpower and costs,” says Ahn. “It records and scores attendees’ behaviors and actions, enabling companies to determine which customers are suitable for sales outreach after the event.”
The powerful data-driven approach enables businesses to make informed decisions and maximize the effectiveness of their events.
A Journey Marked by Milestones
EVENTUS’s journey has impressive milestones and achievements. “EventUs went through the Pre-Seed stage in 2017, the Seed stage in 2018, and successfully attracted Pre-A round investment in 2019. During this time, it secured a capital investment of 800 million KRW from StrongVentures, LotteVentures, and Primer,” Ahn shares. “After that, we have sustained and enlarged our business based on our own revenue.”
As they look to the future, EVENTUS actively engages in investment activities to target Korean and Asian venture capital firms. Their Series-A funding round is already underway, with expansion into the Asian market as a key focus.
Differentiating in a Competitive Space
In a crowded field of event platforms, EVENTUS sets itself apart through its unique offerings. “While there are various types of events, ranging from C2C gatherings to B2G and B2B events, EventUs is primarily specialized as a B2B event platform,” Ahn explains. “We focus on acquiring and nurturing B2B potential customers to increase sales success rates.”
Unlike many competitors, EVENTUS provides an all-in-one solution, combining both event recruitment and event operation. “For event hosts, there is no need to use different services for each stage,” Ahn notes. “This seamless integration of participant data allows for better insights.”
The ability to gather data indicating how effectively potential customers have been nurtured and the channels that lead to genuinely engaged potential customers is a key differentiator for EVENTUS.
Evolving with the Times
EVENTUS has been evolving and adapting to the changing landscape. “Initially, we started our business with a focus on event SaaS like ‘Slido,’ offering services that allowed participants to ask questions, respond to surveys or quizzes, and even conduct lucky draws using their smartphones at events,” Ahn explains.
However, the team soon realized such services were not essential for event operations. “We came to the conclusion that the most critical aspect of events is participant gathering,” Ahn says. This shift led them to launch an event platform and integrate it with event operation SaaS, providing a more integrated service.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, EVENTUS rapidly adapted by launching an online event solution. However, as the pandemic shifted to an endemic phase, the focus shifted towards tracking and analyzing data at offline events. They have also ventured into event consulting, leveraging their extensive dataset.
Casting a Wider Net
While EVENTUS serves a wide range of business event hosts, corporate clients are their primary target. “There are still many startups in Korea that have not yet explored events as a sales tool. As a result, we plan to target these startups as a primary customer base for our future growth,” Ahn states.
Charting a Path to Global Success
When discussing EVENTUS’s future, Younghak Ahn offers a clear roadmap for international expansion. Singapore, often considered Asia’s epicenter for global events, is the initial focal point. “For starters, Singapore hosts the most global events in Asia, and the event tech market is highly developed,” Ahn notes. The plan is to identify niche markets within Singapore, securing initial customers and establishing a solid foothold in this dynamic region.
With an eye on expansion, EVENTUS is keen on venturing into countries like Japan, Thailand, and India. These nations have been experiencing substantial growth in the business events industry, particularly when hosting global events.
As Ahn highlights, “EventUs offers over 30 diverse solutions for events as a one-stop service. However, since the required solutions vary by country, we plan to meet with customers locally to customize our primary solutions according to each country’s needs.”
Guidance for Aspiring Entrepreneurs
In closing, Younghak Ahn shares invaluable advice for budding entrepreneurs seeking to make their mark in the ever-evolving tech industry. His journey with EVENTUS has taught him the importance of aligning services with the specific needs of the target customer base. “The direction of EventUs business has evolved significantly over the past 9 years,” Ahn reflects, “and in fact, the past year has seen our business focus sharpen even further.”
“Ultimately, a company’s growth signifies its survival, and to survive, one must listen to the voice of the customer. Developing services based on customer feedback often leads to finding Product-Market Fit (PMF). However, PMF can constantly change, requiring businesses to repeat this process over and over.”
He emphasizes the importance of ensuring that customers are not only willing to use the services but also willing to pay for them. This pragmatic approach, rooted in customer-centricity, is a guiding principle for businesses looking to witness growth and success.
As EVENTUS continues to expand its global presence and transform the business events landscape, these insights offer a glimpse into the essence of entrepreneurship and innovation that drives its journey forward.