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Hopin is a unicorn scale-up and the world’s first all-in-one live online events platform. It took centre stage as a performer in the virtual conference industry, with the global pandemic propelling its rapid growth.

Now valued at $2.1 billion, with 3.5 million users, and used by the likes of the UN, Adobe, Unilever, and Slack, Hopin is a company that demands greater exploration. So, let’s go backstage to discover the role story has played in its success.

Hopin’s story reveals that it has understood two things:

  1. The majority of the value in conferences comes not from hearing presentations but from the many interactions that happen outside keynote addresses.
  2. Online events offer opportunities that physical events can’t – earning them an important place in a post-pandemic future. 

If your innovation captures something that’s currently missing from virtual experiences or brings new benefits by mixing on and offline together, this is the story for you.

You can download a full version of this Story Canvas here.
You can download a full version of this Story Canvas here.

This case study looks at three key factors in Hopin’s story:

  • The value of interaction
  • A vision of a different future
  • Building trust in a new solution
The Value of Interaction

Hopin understands that while talks delivered by big names might be a big draw for ticket sales – the real value for attendees, sponsors and exhibitors is in the many one-to-one interactions that usually happen at a physical event. This is where new ideas are discussed, contacts are made and business gets done.

This can be seen in the way Hopin plays back the frustrations of taking events online without their platform – a lack of networking opportunities and hands-on sessions or the complexity and risk of trying to pull together different technologies in an attempt to recreate the interactivity of live events.

It’s what makes their promise of ‘an all-in-one virtual venue that makes live online events interactive and personal’ so compelling.

A post-pandemic future for online events

Hopin’s founder, John Boufarhat, believes hybrid events have a future beyond the current pandemic. The story he tells is not only the right story for event organisers who want to go online now to avoid cancelling planned events; but also sells the advantages online events offer over purely offline ones.

He uses his own personal story of ill-health to illustrate the greater inclusivity that online events offer. This inclusivity isn’t just a nice to have – it widens networking opportunities, increases exposure for sponsors and speakers, and creates potential new revenue streams for event organisers (especially when you consider the data that you can collect about an online audience).

In doing so, Boufarhat not only addresses the idea that ‘nothing is as good as getting people together in one venue’, he also builds belief in the future of hybrid events beyond COVID-19.  

Since February 2020 Hopin has grown from 5,000 registered users to over 3.5 million and the numbers of events organisers has jumped from 1,800 to 50,000. In a November interview with Protocol, Bourfarhat stated the company is on pace for $20m in annual recurring revenue (ARR) and is profitable. These numbers, backed-up by a compelling story, enabled them to recently close a $125 million Series B round, mere months after they raised $40m in a Series A round in the summer.

Building trust in a new solution

Customer case studies and testimonials are a major part of the Hopin story – featuring heavily on their website and in media coverage about its growth. These play three key roles:

  1. They boost the credibility of Hopin’s solutions by showing the large brands and events who trusted it to deliver.
  2. They emphasise the simplicity, interactivity and customisation offered by their all-in-one platform. This helps their Everyday Heroes to overcome their fear of change – if the UN can do it, so can they!

They illustrate many benefits that using Hopin offered over solely in-person events – from securing speakers who might not have been able to participate, to delivering large numbers of registrations from around the world.

So, what is the learning for other entrepreneurs?

If like Hopin your innovation gives people much more than a plan B during a pandemic, consider exploring the following questions for the story of your company:

  • What do you supply that makes in-person experiences valuable, but is missing from many online options?
  • What benefits can you deliver that surpass the offline experiences? Don’t forget about things like greater reach, new revenue streams and audience data.
  • Can you share a vision of the future which blends online and offline experiences? Do you have customer stories that can reinforce belief in this hybrid model?    

Next steps

Why not explore the other Scale-Up Unicorn case studies in the further reading section of this module and find more insights you can apply to the story of your business?

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