“As we have Google for search Instagram for social, we will also have Metaverses for unique interests’ sports, social, business etc. in future.”Abhinav Jain, Co-Founder, Almond Solutions
After pandemic ruling the earth for more than two years, WFH, remote work or hybrid work has been accepted norms. People are more productivity in WFH mode than in offices. With this, all the expos, events and social gatherings have become virtual too. However the question comes what is there Post- Pandemic now if you offices are opened up and events opened up for physical presence?
What is your opinion about the trend in virtual events?
Virtual events are here to stay parallel to the physical events and help event organizers scale up the audience for their physical events globally. Do you know virtual events are most suitable for generating the leads for a company and effective cost is only about 30% of the typical per lead cost generated via physical events and other mediums? Cost-effectiveness puts Virtual Events in the future Go-To-Market Stack of Smart CMOs.
Do you think post-pandemic still people would go for virtual events?
They are already preferring and attending virtual events. A PWC report cited that 45% of the people are not looking forward to physically attending business conferences this year, and 20% said to only join when it’s in their city. These numbers indicate that the future is hybrid and inclining towards virtual events.
How can you make it more inclusive and exciting for people to go for it?
In 2021 I ran a poll on LinkedIn, which got 10k+ views, where I asked people to vote for the things they miss in virtual events. None complained about the content experience, and 80% said they miss food and souvenirs. So, we created a digital café on the platform for people to order free food from the café that gets delivered at their doorstep and built a souvenir shop on the platform to order free personalized souvenirs of the event. Lastly, we also implemented an instant poll feature to share their feedback with the organizers and get rewarded. Just the poll shot up engagements by 35%.
As India is more about touch and feel, do you think virtual things can ever replace physical ones?
A video call has replaced travel in many ways, and it’s not about touch and feels; it’s about convenience and saving time. While the virtual may not replace everything physical, it mitigates physical inconvenience in many ways. For example, we do virtual property shows for a leading property aggregator platform globally. There is a virtual-reality-based property listing on our platform for buyers to get the 360-degree feel of the property and location without even visiting the property. If the buyer is interested, they can see the property physically. The lead pipeline increased by 25% with the virtual property show.
The second impediment is that our houses are not made for the virtual environment, what is your opinion?
Now, this is where it gets fascinating because the gadgets will crush the limitations of physical space and boundaries. You may know, in CES 2022, there were VR glasses displayed that can move you in the virtual space without having you move an inch physically. And not just that, glasses will also take your voice commands to take you anywhere you want to go in the virtual world. Virtual is limitless, and we are just getting started.
Are you of an opinion like Mark Zuckerberg about metaverse that it will be a reality?
Yes, I do, and I firmly believe there will be thousands of metaverses in future like we have websites for everything today. As we have Google for search Instagram for social, we will also have Metaverses for unique interests’ sports, social, business etc. in future. A retailer giant based in Africa and the USA recently approached us to build a metaverse shopping mall with worldwide brands, and they already have 800+ brands onboarded for the project.
Give us a note on the inception and growth of the company and its products.
We launched in 2018 as a digital solutions company for marketers, and 2020 shaped us into a product company. While we did some exciting work in the virtual events space in 2018, we officially launched Almond Virtex – a virtual and hybrid events platform in April 2020. For the Govt Of India, India International Science Festival, Almond Virtex also won 5 Guinness Book of World Records for hosting the world’s largest science conference. Later in Sep 2020, we built Almond Vingage – a short-format video-based interactive education platform, Almond Vgift – an Instant reward platform. This year we are launching Almond Vouch – a digital sampling platform. Our team has grown 20X, and business has grown 40x since its inception.
What is your vision around Almond Solutions?
As per Markets and markets reports, around 300bn US Dollars are spent on four key physical activities like events and exhibitions, product education and sampling, and rewards every year. Our vision is to help brands mitigate a massive dependence on the physical workforce, be it for events, education, sampling or rewards with our mobile-first products that work with or without the internet.
What kind of innovations would you like to bring into the virtual platform?
Personalization and engagement are keys to success for any virtual event or platform. We feel proud to share that we started with personalized digital business cards exchange on virtual events in march 2020 which now most of the platforms use this feature. Since the future is hybrid, we are developing a 5 point technology that connects the physical audiences or physical exhibitors to virtual audiences or virtual exhibitors under the supervision of the organizer. This is going to be game changing.
How is it different from other platforms?
Almond Virtex is one of the most customizable platforms out there in the market. We are a unique platform that can offer 2D, 3D, 3D 360 environments and now events in the metaverse. Additionally, our products are integrated via a secure blockchain-based data hub, which means pre-event, during event and post engagement data can be unified to drive complete KPI analytics and calculate true ROI. Lastly, we are super-fast to market, and our customized events can go live in less than 24 hours.
Major customers who have used your platform, and what do they say about it?
80% of our business in either repeat or referral. Brands like Coca-Cola, Nestle, Asian Paints, Udaan, EXL, The Guardian, PropTiger and associations like The World Bank, UNICEF, CII, PHDCCI, AIMA, The Govt Of India are using our platforms regularly. We have recently launched our business in the USA, working for the Ministry of textile and helping them host one of the most significant virtual fashion events. Our customers love our platform customization, speed of work and customer support.
What is the business model around it?
We are working with agencies as well as brands directly. With agencies, it’s a yearly/quarterly subscription model for several events that they can host from our SAAS panel. With brands, as they need more handholding, support and customization, we work on an event subscription model where we take care of everything end to end for them from creative to customization to execution.