As companies continue developing their events strategies, one platform is raising $60 million to ensure they’re reaching the right audiences in the mid- and post-pandemic era.
RainFocus has raised a series C round led by KKR, which is investing through the private equity firm’s second Next Generational Technology Growth Fund. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but paperwork filed by RainFocus today with the U.S. Securities And Exchange Commission reports the round totaled $60 million. JMI Equity, which previously invested $40 million in RainFocus, also participated in the new round.
Founded in 2013, RainFocus’s software marketers combine data and content from virtual, in-person and hybrid events with data about customers or prospective customers. While events often are run at the logistical level, the startup helps capture and use relevant data that can then be funneled to other parts of marketing and sales divisions.
“I kind of look at this as this is for events what marketing automation really was in the early 2000s,” RainFocus CEO JR Sherman told Forbes. “It headed down a direction of building customers journeys they they could map as they engage with customers from initial awareness all the way through loyalty. And event tech went off on [paths for] piecemeal points solutions or very customized solutions from agencies…What this really is is hitting the reset and saying, ‘We now have marketing automation technology for events.’”
RainFocus plans to use the funding to expand its developer team while also integrating marketing technologies to make events part of campaigns. It also plans to expand build out its R&D strategy to simplify ways to create a range of events and track how they’re used.
“Traditionally, everyone thought of event tech as solving a problem,” Sherman said. “A registration, a payment, an exhibitor. What this really allows you to do is think of the individual or the account as the center of the universe.”
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With a tagline of “One Platform To Rule Them All”—a nod to the Lord Of The Rings trilogy and its famous line “one ring to rule them all”—RainFocus has benefited from the the booming business of virtual events. Since the pandemic began, RainFocus has gained more traction as marketers navigate whether to conduct virtual, in-person or hybrid events. In the past year, the company’s seen a 430% growth in events while revenue has doubled. (The company wouldn’t disclose total revenue amounts.) It’s also had more than 5.1 million people use the platform and more than 9 million sessions engaged by audiences.
According to Sherman, the company was created to “to solve what seemed like an impossible problem” of pulling data from a range of vendors, applications, agencies and other partners. He said they “still sit on an island from a technology standpoint—they’re still executed by apps and solutions and then data is thrown over the transom” to marketing teams rather than built into the broader customer journey. That could mean focusing on a physical event and tracking whether people register and attend—or don’t attend—and how they participated through exhibitors or sessions. It could also mean helping a virtual experience with an online conference that includes one-to-one meetings and larger keynotes.
Jimmy Miele, principle on KKR’s Next Generation Technology Growth team, said the PE firm began looking into investing in RainFocus back in 2019 and found that customer feedback during the vetting process as “so glowing, so ‘this is what I didn’t know I needed and now I realized I absolutely need to have.’”
While events were often placed within an events team before 2020, the pandemic has forced chief marketing officers and chief information officers to become more involved with reviewing a platform.
Alicia Tillman—the former chief marketing officer of SAP who joined RainFocus’s board in May—said events are a “very sizable spending category” for CMOs’ overall budgets. That requires an integrated strategy to combine attendee data with business goals like new sales and client retention.
“What sets RainFocus apart is its focus on integrating events and all the invaluable data they bring into the entire marketing strategy,” she said. “This is golden. No more being on an island or only being able to demonstrate a ‘one time benefit’ which is often a criticism of event spend.”