Despite the corona crisis and its impact on events, InviteDesk is continuing to invest. InviteDesk had a successful start in Belgium and wants to be completely ready for rapid expansion as soon as companies step up their events again. “Doing nothing is not an option now – you have to be smart with your investments. Some take time before they produce results, but postponing all investments is to postpone your growth,” says Jan Heiremans, co-founder of InviteDesk.
The company aims to increase its revenue tenfold in four years to a recurring turnover of more than two million euros by the end of 2023. The company currently has seven employees. By the end of 2024, there should be fifteen. InviteDesk will invest half the additional capital in the development of its software for both digital events and live events. The other half will go to investment in inbound marketing and sales in order to grow internationally.
The software company now has more than fifty customers, including ABN AMRO, Bank J.Van Breda & C°, Nagelmackers, office furniture supplier Ahrend, law firms Claeys & Engels and Monard Law, building materials supplier Deschacht, DHL, sponsor of the Red Devils GLS, Hansgrohe, ISS, Renault, Randstad, Select, Van Marcke and Cebeo.
InviteDesk is headed by Jan Heiremans and Mark Van der kinderen, who previously worked for StepStone for many years in management positions in Belgium and other countries. Matthias Goossens, with international commercial experience gained at Adecco Group, was also a partner from the very beginning. “The idea for InviteDesk grew out of our experience with organising events at the time,” says co-founder Mark Van der kinderen.
“Events take a major chunk out of the marketing budget of B2B companies,” he says. “You know the costs but the profit is not always clear and you often see the same people at your events or worse, no-shows. Getting the right people at your event is crucial to getting a better return on your investment. You do this by having good communication with your customers, marketers and salespeople working together from the invitation process onwards and having data available at all times. Our software enables you to do this in an efficient way. Companies only need to spend half the time they would otherwise have to spend and the attendance is better, both in terms of quality and numbers. The event ROI and therefore the quality of the guests is more important than ever, especially now that events are smaller scale for the time being due to COVID-19. The options for communicating with guests and having access to the data of those present is also an added bonus.”
“Our software is unique in the world and is designed to build personal relationships. Companies are using webinars during the corona crisis to stay in touch with their customers, but webinars lack the ‘corridors’ where customer relationships are built. We are building a solution for this too,” says Jan Heiremans.
“Determining who to invite, the invitation process and all the subsequent steps up to and including an insight into the return on investment: that’s what customers are using our software for,” he explains. “The annual cost is usually between 2,500 and 30,000 euros. The amount depends on the number of events and the number of people in marketing and sales who work with the software. The cost per guest at an event works out at less than 1 euro. Less than a postage stamp.”
“We also want to expand abroad,” says Matthias Goossens. “Now we are mainly active in Belgium, but we want to win customers for our software in neighbouring countries. The software already exists in Dutch, French, English and German. We are also looking at other countries because we can add languages to our software fairly easily. It also takes different time zones into account. InviteDesk offers a lot of practical solutions, such as sending PDF tickets that you can upload with a single click. In addition, InviteDesk integrates with CRM software such as Microsoft Dynamics and Salesforce, and marketing automation software such as HubSpot and Marketo.”
Most of the additional capital comes from the founders Jan Heiremans, Mark Van der kinderen and Matthias Goossens, plus other people who were already shareholders, such as Jo Goossens and Wouter Vandeberg of corporate finance specialist SDM-Valorum, and Philip Maeyaert, formerly a partner at Deloitte.
“Despite the corona crisis, there are still business angels who show confidence in start-ups with strong growth potential,” says Jan Heiremans. “We recruited Anthony Brenninkmeijer through BAN Vlaanderen [Business Angels Network Flanders], so not only capital but also knowledge and experience. Together with him as a shareholder and member of our board of directors, we want to take the next steps in the growth of InviteDesk.”