McLean-based Cvent managed to survive the dot-com bubble burst in the early 2000s — but just barely. Executives had burned through most of a $17 million investment and were forced to lay off staff and shoulder an expensive lease.
Chief executive Reggie Aggarwal learned a lesson. He and a still-intact team of senior leaders spent much of the next decade slowly growing the business, which sells event planning software, without raising more money.
“How can I ever dig myself out of this hole? You have to believe, and that was what made us build up our foundation, because we were frankly forced to,” he said.
Now the firm has taken on a second round of funding — a whopping $136 million led by New Enterprise Associates and Insight Venture Partners — which Aggarwal says will be spent judiciously on products and acquisitions that help grow its user base and adapt to emerging technology trends.
At an event, “you’re on your phone the whole time so pretty much everyone who goes to events tends to have PDAs, so it’s a very mobile community, a very social community and that’s an area we want to grow in,” Aggarwal said.
Aggarwal said the company wants to expand its online bidding process by which corporate event planners outline their needs and then venues compete to host the function. He also sees applications for more consumer-oriented affairs, such as weddings.
Tony Florence, a partner at NEA, said the venture firm has long been familiar with Cvent and its event planning products, but felt the market has just begun to ripen.
“Part of the reality is that this market has really started to evolve and we think it’s at an inflection point now where there is more and more customer opportunity,” Florence said. “We think customers are more and more open to these type of solutions.”
•Reston-based Canvas launched its assault on paperwork nearly three years ago as the growing use of smartphones and tablet computers began to make clipboard-bound tasks irrelevant.
Founder James Quigley has since corralled 750 apps that digitize various forms a business might use, from restaurant satisfaction surveys and inventory records to parking citations and biweekly timesheets.
Canvas plans to announce Monday (July 25) that the business has closed a $1.2 million investment round led by the venture arm of Motorola Solutions, which provides communications technology to businesses and the government.
Quigley said the money will be used to hire sales representatives and other staff to help keep pace with the influx of demand. Companies are signing up for free trials at a fast clip and many of those are being converted to paying customers, he said.
“It’s a trick for them to really evaluate whether it’s a fit for them,” he said. “But if we can get them to the point where they give it a go, then a healthy portion of them will become paying subscribers to the service.”
•Arlington-based uKnow.com added $1 million in seed funding to its coffers last week from a group of investors that includes Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology and a handful of angels from the University of Maryland’s Capital Access Network.
Co-founder Steven Woda created the company’s premier product, uKnowKids, in 2009 as an online tool for parents to track their children’s mobile and social media habits. It not only scans messages for questionable content but also when they were sent and how frequently.
“It’s all about taking data that already exists on the Web and mobile phone. . .and aggregating it and presenting it to Mom and Dad in a way that’s understandable and actionable,” he said.