How Reggie Aggarwal turned Cvent into a success
Sunday, November 7, 2010; 6:35 PM
Broke and living with his parents, Reggie Aggarwal faced bankruptcy in February 2002 as he weighed signing a $1 million office lease for his barely-alive software company, which was down to its last $400,000.
"It was the worst time of my life," said Aggarwal, founder and chief executive of Cvent, a Tysons Corner -based software company that serves the event management sector. "I didn't know if the business was going to turn around. We were the walking dead."
Nevertheless, he drew a deep breath, signed his life away and "didn't sleep for two years."
Nearly a decade later, Aggarwal, 41, leads a fast-growing, $50 million-plus business with 675 employees and 94 straight months of profitability.
Quite a comeback story.
Cvent is an amped-up version of Evite, the online invitation service. If you are planning a meeting for your association or company, you use Cvent software to send out the invitations, record the responses, collect the fees and book your hotel. If the meeting is in downtown Chicago for 1,000 participants, Cvent has software that helps you find the right venue.
The company is growing. Cvent has hired 190 people already this year and has 80 vacancies.
Aggarwal was raised in Northern Virginia by parents who immigrated from India. He attended Thomas Edison High School and was a finance major at the University of Virginia, where he cobbled together several scholarships. He evinced an entrepreneurial streak early on, running a 20-man team that painted houses during college summers and netting almost $20,000 for himself.
Aggarwal earned law degrees from Washington & Lee and Georgetown in the mid-1990s. He went into international tax law at Shaw Pittman, a large law firm based in the District.
Around 1996, he started cold-calling executives and inviting them to the Legg Mason Tennis Classic, held every summer at the Rock Creek Park Tennis Center in Northwest D.C.
"I called tons of CEOs and said, "You don't know me, but I have tickets to Legg Mason, and do you want to go with your children?' " said Aggarwal. "I didn't have an agenda."
Sanju K. Bansal, the chief operating officer of MicroStrategy, the McLean business intelligence firm, accepted such an invite, and the pair sat until midnight, discussing business. They eventually created a networking group of CEOs that met monthly at the exclusive Tower Club in Tysons Corner.