From the edge of collapse to strong sustainable business in 6 months - interview with Martin Morsing Larsen, CEO of Conferize
Danish online software developer Conferize A/S faced turbulent times and almost found itself out of business at the end of 2020 due to Covid crisis. But instead of throwing in the towel, company decided to replace its team, focus on new strategy and dive towards the challenge face on.
After couple months, company got back on track and has a very promising future and outlook.
Between May 3rd til May 18th, Conferize is holding a Rights Issue and after hearing the story, we reached out to Martin Morsing Larsen, CEO of Conferize, to find out about their plans.
This interview was conducted over the email on 29.04.2021
For those who haven't heard Conferize A/S before, please explain what you do?
We are an Event Tech company – we deliver a cloud-based Event Management Platform. Our Platform helps our customers from A to Z in organizing, delivering, and follow-up on their events.
Any event type, online, physical, and hybrid.
2020 has been a tough year for your industry and business model. How will you face 2021 and what will change?
We are starting to see the “light at the end of the tunnel” when it comes to COVID restrictions in the event industry. Organizations look for opportunities to get together and they start to plan. Event planners are looking into digitizing their events in new ways, and it’s not just about online vs. onsite – it’s more about presence and relevance, and that’s where we help.
Our sales team has a very high level of activity, which means that I am looking into expanding with more sales capacity before midsummer.
As we speak, we help one of our customers to launch their first physical event this autumn – they are using Conferize for agenda building, creation of the campaign, mailing, registration and so forth and look forward to welcoming their guests physically.
Let’s talk about competition. Online space is filled with big names, what is the USP Conferize can offer against names like Google, Zoom, Microsoft, etc?
There are several broadcasting technologies in the market, and we are not trying to be “yet another tool” – we integrate with Zoom, YouTube, Cisco, Microsoft, and many others and see them more as friends rather than competitors.
Our offering is to provide full support from event planning to event delivery and follow-up. There are several niche players in this field with a larger global, mainly non-European plyers. We are aware of competition as we should, but our focus right now is delivering value and the right full-cycle experience to existing and future customers.
What’s your assessment of your potential market size?
We are a part of a global Event Tech market - which, before COVID19, was assessed for more than $6b, and growing rapidly at 12% p.a. – this is just a fragment of the global event spend, and with this growth rate, there will be significant opportunities for the Event Tech organizations with offerings in sync with their customers’ needs.
Conferize has a new team and a new strategy. Could you explain your go-to-market strategy and expected milestones getting there?
Sure, I joined Conferize in February and I have worked with the board and our new team to set our new strategy. We have defined three major milestones #1 a re-engagement phase, which is very much around strategy execution and gets us ready for the second phase, which we call our Market Launch and where we are now. We are approaching the Northern European Market (Nordics and UK) in direct sales activities to major decision-makers, and it works – as said, we are now working on real events with new customers.
Finally, we have defined a third phase, which is about profitable growth – our plan is to work hard on direct sales and achieve break-even in 2022, which means cost focus and even more, growth attention.
Looking ahead, where will Confrrize be in 3 years (market position and financials)?
I think there are a couple of factors, that will determine our position looking three years ahead. What we can influence the most is our own execution in terms of growth and cost focus, but I think our opportunities after reaching a break-even are about new markets, additional partnerships, and keep our platform on the leading edge with new technologies and offerings.
If you would have to put on your 5-year hat, what are your thoughts on how the event industry will change in general, and how do you see Conferize’s role in that?
When I joined, I heard and read a lot about the Event Tech industry as a red ocean, and I think that’s a very fair point. I think we should expect to see that demands on understanding the value and outcomes of events will be an even bigger driver for event organizers, and that’s truly a conversation we should take part in – it requires structure, data, and integration to the rest of the business – and I think that’s were Conferize can become a vital player in helping organizations to realize and achieve their business goals using events.
Conferize is running a New Issue intending to raise up to 17M DKK. How are funds been used?
Reaching breakeven still requires some support and that’s how we mainly are using the raised funds, we have a commitment for almost 10M DKK now, so that will help us. We plan to spend our funds well and will keep an eye on the spending level, we will also allocate funding to build stronger partnerships and keep strengthening our platform – mainly driven by market demand.
To whom is your offer directed (existing shareholders? New shareholders?)
Our offer is directed to both our existing shareholders and to new shareholders.
Anything else you would like to tell investors that are we didn't discuss?
Not that much, thank you – we are fueled with energy and with several new ideas and are eager to take Conferize forward with our investors and customers.