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Online events hosting platform, Airmeet has bagged $12 million in Series A funding led by Sequoia Capital India, along with participation from US-based Redpoint Ventures, and existing investors Accel India, Venture Highway, and Global Founders Capital (GFC).

The investment comes as Airmeet is exiting its public beta stage and is readying to open its app for usage by organisations through a freemium model, similar to other software products that are vying for a foothold in the sector.

Last year, Airmeet had raised $400,000 in a seed round and closed a follow-on seed round of $3 million from Accel and others. With its Series A round, the Bengaluru-based startup has plans to accelerate technology development, grow the team size to 100 from 60 and expand its customer base globally.

“A good portion of the funding will be deployed into product and technology development. The second area would be to grow the customer base to 10X in the next 24 months,” said Lalit Mangal, cofounder at Airmeet.

“Our mission is to make virtual events so effective and engaging that it should appear archaic to organise an on-ground event. We are already seeing an irreversible behaviour change among event organisers and an exponential rise in, what we call, ‘Digitally native events,” said Lalit Mangal, co-founder, Airmeet in a press statement.

Floated by Mangal, Manoj Singh and Vinay Jaasti, Airmeet helps organize meetups, company events and workshops.

The startup came as an alternative to global company Zoom and got momentum during Covid19-lockdown and its aftermath as various brands and event programmers shifted to online platforms to expand their reach virtually.

In its first year of operations, the company has empowered event organizers to run a wide variety of events and meetups from trade shows, job fairs, and virtual team cafes to virtual conventions and technical industry summits on its platform.

Globally, it has powered virtual events for professional communities like Microsoft for Startups, the Linux Foundation, and Florida International University.

The firm claims to have grown nearly 2000% over the last quarter and hosted over 10,000 events on its platform between November 2019 and July 2020.

Airmeet aims to power more than 1000 events per day on its platform that expands beyond traditional virtual event formats by offering multiple new and innovative event templates.

“Covid-19 has accelerated a permanent behavioural shift across many industries. With the digitisation of largely traditional spaces leapfrogging by years, the $800+ billion global offline events space is up for grabs. There is massive potential for players who drive the industry’s transition towards online-events,” said Abhishek Mohan, vice-president, Sequoia Capital India.

Mangal said that Airmeet would also grow its team from around 60 today to 100 employees soon, but would largely retain a lean product heavy team, leveraging the company’s high organic growth. While the company will soon reveal pricing for its product, he said that the focus will not be on revenue growth.

“We have just graduated out of the beta stage. We’re getting one paid customer every six hours, despite not publishing pricing. For the mid-term we’re really not focused on revenues, because this product is a media format innovation and we want to really keep it unshackled rather than locking it,” added Mangal.

While Airmeet credits some of its high growth to the Covid-19 pandemic which disrupted the offline events sector globally, it says there’s a growing base of customers that understand the value of doing events virtually, and the pandemic has only increased that realisation.

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