Events platform Hubilo has secured £17m in a Series A funding round to help fund its ongoing pivot from in-person to virtual events.

The UK company said it would use the funds to acquire office space in London, grow its teams across the UK and Europe and expand its customer base with investment in sales teams.

Pre-pandemic, the company ran physical events but over the past year it has pivoted to a virtual format. The company said revenue from its in-person offering “collapsed” when Covid-19 forced the cancellation of conferences worldwide.

It then built a new digital platform from scratch in 26 days to cater to the exploding virtual events market. According to Hubilo, its month-over-month revenue has grown by 50% since April 2020 when it signed up its first online events customer.

It says it has hosted more than a million attendees on its virtual platform over the past year.

Lightspeed Venture Partners and Balderton Capital led the funding round. Individual investors include John Thompson, chairman of the board at Microsoft, and Chris Schagen, former CMO at Contentful.

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It follows a £3.2m seed funding round in November.

“We’ve experienced remarkable growth over the last few months thanks to our vision of placing experience and intelligence at the forefront of virtual events,” said Vaibhav Jain, founder and CEO, Hubilo.

“Our strategy, product features and platform intelligence are expanding the possibilities of what is achievable in the events space, and we’re continually delivering greater value for event organisers, sponsors and other stakeholders. We’re excited to welcome our investors onboard as we begin this next phase of global expansion.”

The success of online events has led to the expectation that future conferences will take place in a hybrid format, where virtual access runs in parallel to a physical event.

Hubilo is betting on this outcome and said it will use parts of the funding to further develop its virtual events platform. A key aim is to create features that can replicate the authentic connections made at in-person events – an ingredient that many say is missing from online events.

To counter so-called ‘Zoom fatigue’, Hubilo has added meeting tables, private rooms, meeting schedules and gamification features.

Its platform also integrates with Salesforce, HubSpot and Marketo to provide analytics for businesses to build relationships with their customers via the event.

Suranga Chandratillake, general partner at Balderton Capital, said: “The financial cost and productivity, as well as the climate hit of traditional, in-person events, can be huge. Until the Covid-19 lockdowns, however, our collective inertia meant that nothing had changed.

“The pandemic has demonstrated that virtual and hybrid events can be as engaging as physical ones and substantially cheaper to run and attend, more profitable for organisers and contributors, and more inclusive for attendees. Hubilo is at the heart of this revolution of how people meet and ideas get exchanged, and we are excited to be partnering with them for their journey.”

Read more: Zoom CEO: The future of work is hybrid