Founder and CEO
For leading Cvent’s recent acquisitions of event-tech firms QuickMobile, Kapow, Social Tables, and DoubleDutch as it expands into all aspects of the meeting planning world
In the early 1990s, I was planning more than 50 events a year for a non-profit, while also working 60 hours a week as a lawyer. Manually sending thousands of event invitations and compiling registrations in an Excel sheet was incredibly painful, so I set out to create a solution. What started as an online event-registration tool has evolved into a full-service platform to handle every aspect of the event lifecycle, with solutions for both event planners and hoteliers. It was a personal frustration with planning events that became a realization that I was not alone—these were industry-wide challenges. We’ve expanded the platform as we sought to solve other pain points, and we’ve been successful because evolving technology allows us to build the tools the industry needs most.
I want to revolutionize the way we use mobile technology to engage with live events. There are more than a billion smartphones in use around the world, and mobile apps are an integral part of our personal and professional lives. But there’s still a massive untapped opportunity to use mobile technology to increase engagement and help event planners customize, scale, and enhance the event experience. We acquired QuickMobile for this purpose, and we’ll continue to invest heavily in the mobile space; we’re going beyond mobile event apps and exploring new ways to drive engagement and adoption. We’ve had 20 million event app downloads to date, but I suspect we’ve only scratched the surface.
Many people have heard the saying, “Change is constant; growth is optional,” and I believe that. Leaders need to set the expectation that change is inevitable and prepare their organizations to embrace it. At our company-wide event in February, we set out some lofty growth goals. I followed the announcement with this statement: “If you’re negative, you’ll say this is impossible. If you’re more optimistic, you’ll say it’s a challenge. But if you’re a realist, you’ll see it for what it is: An opportunity.” It changed the whole dynamic; all of a sudden, we had the entire Cvent nation ready to take on the opportunity.
Advice Peers Ask of You
Peers most often ask how to guide their businesses through the various phases of growth and expansion, and even how to come back from failure. When people ask me for specifics, I tell them to hire the right team. Surround yourself with the people who share your passion and who will stick with you when times get tough.
Advice You Ask of Peers
I ask about trends they see happening with their workforce, and what they are doing to hire the best people and keep them happy. I think that staying on top of changes in the workplace and being aware of the changing needs of the workforce have allowed us to recruit and retain top talent.
Best Business Advice
“Failure is a life experience that makes you stronger. Just learn from it and jump into the next adventure.” That’s from Nina Aggarwal, my mother. When Cvent first got going, the future was bright. The opportunity was there, and venture capital came easy. But when the dot-com bubble burst, we had to lay off more than 100 hard-working employees and I moved back home with my parents. But because of what my mother said to me at that time, nothing scares me anymore. I learned that whether you win or lose, you gain confidence, and that’s what you need to find success.