Event organizers have increasingly been looking to connect their event attendees in more meaningful ways with the advent of smartphones and social media, but it’s often expensive and time-consuming to create a native mobile app in-house for an event. Enter Vancouver-based QuickMobile, which provides custom-branded mobile apps for events, with clients like Google, Salesforce, and Cisco. The company announced this week that it has closed $3.3 million in funding led by BDC IT Venture Fund, with additional contributions from Vancity and angel investors. The company will use the funding to invest in product development, marketing, and building out its infrastructure, in addition to expanding its footprint in Europe and Asia.
CEO and co-founder Patrick Payne previously founded an SMS-based company that worked with film festivals and conferences, and then decided to take a mobile approach to the events space. “We have not been able to keep up the growth, we now are over 100 people, and the phone keeps ringing, we have 30 of the Fortune 500 companies, and it’s just been an amazing ride since we’ve decided on focusing on events and conferences,” Payne said in an interview. The company’s event apps had been downloaded over one million times as of early 2012.
The company offers a range of solutions targeted at different verticals in the event industry, catering to corporations, associations, trade shows, and venues. The company works with its customers to create mobile event apps that provide attendees with the itinerary, social media links, and the ability to connect with other attendees both during and after the event. Corporations can get more specific for a mobile app for their internal employees to connect them around sales meetings, seminars, and retreats, while associations can create apps that connect their members year-round. Hotels can showcase their amenities, and venues can create iPad apps with their entire sales presentation to pitch, promote, and close more business.
The mobile event space has seen a lot of activity, with event organizers and participants demanding increased connectivity and interactivity, be it through asking questions, filling out polls, or networking with other attendees. Earlier this summer Betakit saw Cvent make acquisitions of companies like CrowdCompass, geared more towards creating mobile apps for the enterprise space, and SeedLabs, now CrowdTorch, which was more targeted towards consumer-facing events. That’s in addition to other emerging competitors including EventMobi, Guidebook and geniemobile, which are all trying to help event organizers go mobile. However, Payne notes that QuickMobile’s advantage lies in being able to produce customizable feature-rich apps.
“What a lot of companies do is they have a template, and they use that template over and over again and they make minor changes. What we do is a really quite different. We have 30 different modules, and we can take those modules and assemble them and literally build these apps in a matter of hours,” Payne said. “Another big differentiator for us is we have a high degree of branding, what we try to do is make each app to some degree unique. These modules are built to be highly customizable and flexible.”
Along with using the funding for marketing and international expansion, Payne said they will also be looking to release a new product in the coming months, though he declined to provide any specifics. For event organizers, there are several options when it comes to creating a mobile experience for attendees, from building a custom app to just connecting attendees via social media or a mobile-friendly website. Payne said that when it comes to custom apps, event organizers need to go beyond just repurposing their printed materials, which is where he believes QuickMobile stands out. “What you’re trying to do is connect people to get them engaged and give them a great experience at that event. The reason I don’t think it will be about features and functions is that it won’t then be any different from a printed program.”