Montreal-based corporate event platform startup Planned has raised $4.7 million CAD in venture financing led by Inovia Capital, with participation from Telegraph Hill Capital and N49P. This brings Planned’s total capital raised to $7 million.
Founded in 2017 as Entr, the startup rebranded in October of 2019 as Planned. The decision was made in advance of Planned’s expansion into New York City in November of that same year. The startup’s platform allows corporate event planners to connect with suppliers and book what they need for their events, while providing a curated portfolio of venues and vendors across North America.
“Even if COVID has highly affected the event industry, we truly believe that it will be a great opportunity for the one who can weather the storm”
According to co-founder and CEO Marc-Antoine Bonin, the COVID-19 pandemic had a deep impact on Planned’s revenue in 2020, setting up an operational shift in its product to a completely self-service tool. Bonin acknowledged his startup made layoffs to its account management team as a result of COVID-19, a total of 22 people were let go during the year, as Planned’s sales model prior to the pandemic was based solely on in-person events.
However, the startup found that suppliers were increasingly interested in long-term partnerships in 2020. Bonin noted that Planned has added seven staff members to its product and engineering team to correspond with an anticipated return to in-person events in 2021 with the expected release of a COVID-19 vaccine.
During 2020, Planned launched a virtual marketplace to help planners find suppliers. Additionally, a new version of the platform, expected to launch in 2021, will feature a marketplace for venues and vendors for in-person, hybrid, or virtual events that includes health and safety protocols.
“COVID gave us an opportunity to better understand our core customer segments,” said Bonin, who co-founded Planned with Emeric Noel (president).
“We launched our discovery program, and built a network of experienced event planners to provide feedback on our new feature development,” the CEO said. “Now, we’re confident that what we’re building solves real problems for people striving to build the best possible corporate experiences for their peers.”
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“It was important for us to provide value to our customers and assist them in the transition to virtual events, so we built a virtual experience marketplace with thousands of services ranging from speakers to virtual sushi-making classes,” said Noel. “We are constantly improving our platform to meet the changing needs of enterprises and their event personnel. An example is our COVID map, which provides insight on event regulations across different states and provinces.”
With the influx of venture financing, Bonin said the startup is focused on attracting top tech talent and expanding its partnership base with venues and vendors across North America.
“Even if COVID has highly affected the event industry, we truly believe that it will be a great opportunity for the one who can weather the storm,” said Bonin. “We see a really bright future for Planned as we believe that we will be extremely well positioned to help enterprises get back to in-person events after the pandemic.”