Reggie Aggarwal, founder, chairman and CEO of Cvent, on connecting for conferencing
How did you get started in the industry?
I started an association for technology executives called the Indian CEO High Tech Council in 1996 after I graduated from law school. During the dot com boom, we quickly grew from organising five events a year to 50 events per year because of the explosion of the tech industry.
I learned a lot during those early years because I was effectively the meeting planner, executive director and president of the organisation – all at the same time. I organised events using Excel, Outlook, yellow sticky notes and tape.
What do you like about the meetings and events industry?
There is an incredible greenfield marketing opportunity ahead. US$565bn is spent globally on meetings and events – and these events need technology. In addition, 24% of the average B2B marketing budget is spent on events because there’s nothing like ‘breaking bread’ with people face to face.
What trends are you seeing in event technology?
Event planning is becoming significantly more efficient through much needed automation. All events and meetings are adding a mobile component and planners are demanding technology that helps them book meetings and boost engagement. In addition, attendees are eager to have information at their fingertips and to connect live, getting social experience of an event with online interaction on social media.
Our own recent, fourth, annual user conference, Cvent CONNECT, was the biggest ever and we had more than 2,200 attendees – eight times the size of our first conference in 2012.
It was a full week of making our virtual marketplace live and in-person, showcasing technology, selling and cross selling.
The event validated the importance of face-to-face meetings.
Building an unbelievable management team. Nine of our 11 key executives are still with the company since starting in 2000 and this has helped the company reach many key milestones, including going public in August 2013.
What is the most irritating challenge you face on a regular basis?
Trying to keep myself focused on the bigger strategic issues rather than rolling up my sleeves and diving into operations.
Do you value industry qualifications over experience? How do you get the right mix when recruiting?
At Cvent we look to hire the best people who really embody an entrepreneurial spirit. We invest heavily in our employees because they make up the DNA of our organisation. I have personally spent a lot of time with our HR department in our recruiting efforts from interviewing many of our candidates to visiting universities to ensure we’re hiring the top talent.
Advice to your 20-year old self making your way in business today?
Always be passionate in anything you do, and be persistent.