Why We Invested: Introvoke
Struck Capital’s Why We Invested Series provides a unique, behind-the-scenes look at our dynamic investing theses in action via engaging insights from the most involved aspects of our venture work. This edition of the Series highlights Introvoke, our 8th investment out of Fund II.
The High-Level: Introvoke’s enterprise-grade video solution enables companies to fully realize the Future of Work and connectivity within and beyond their organization. Introvoke’s robust suite of video components, built entirely in-house, includes virtual stages, dynamic chat rooms and flexible networking hubs. Introvoke’s large-scale hybrid event functionality has the ability to scale to 2 million concurrent users with zero latency and 4K resolution. Introvoke embeds directly into their customer’s web properties or internal intranets in minutes, increasing both security and brand equity as enterprises no longer relinquish control of their audience’s journey to third party or externally-branded platforms.
We were introduced to the Introvoke team in early February and quickly saw a star in the making. As the world navigates tectonic shifts in work, socializing, and connectivity at large, we invested with the conviction that Introvoke will play a pivotal role in shaping how people around the world connect and engage with one another, helping define the Future of Work.
The Story of Introvoke
Oana Manolache, Introvoke’s Co-Founder and CEO, comes from an incredibly driven, entrepreneurial family. She earned her B.A. in Business & Marketing from Coventry University in the UK before starting her career at HP in London, soon becoming the youngest and sole female member of the organization’s management board. She then moved to the US to lead the Americas Marketing team, one of the most profitable business units in the company, also earning the coveted “30 Under 30” distinction from Forbes Romania. With an ‘intrapreneurial’ mindset, she consistently led high-impact initiatives outside of her job description, becoming a spokesperson for the company and finding herself attending live events all across the world in the name of advancing HP’s market position and establishing strategic partnerships. Through this exhaustive travel regimen, one problem kept gnawing at her. In her own words: “at first, it was exciting, but then attending live events was expensive and time consuming and attending events virtually often meant watching a livestream without the ability to truly network, engage, or participate. I quickly learned that it wasn’t just a pain for me, but for the event organizers also since they could not attract the audience they needed or had major venue restrictions. With all the technology around us, I thought there must be a better way.”
Oana heard Andrei Ermilov — a seasoned engineering leader from Microsoft who now serves as Introvoke’s Chief Technical Officer — speak at the GTC NVIDIA conference about high-scale streaming solutions and immediately saw the perfect partner with whom to build her vision. At Microsoft, Andrei led technical teams in the Commercial Software Engineering organization where he honed his skills creating enterprise-grade products from scratch. As CTO for Introvoke, he applied this skillset to build an incredibly sound and scalable technical platform to serve as an extremely solid foundation upon which Introvoke can scale and soar.
Introvoke was introduced in May 2019 during a hybrid event at WeWork in Boston, where 200 people joined in-person and 500 more joined the Introvoke-powered virtual forum. Even before the pandemic, through introvoke’s hybrid solutions, organizations were able to fully realize in-person events and scale them to an unlimited online audience. Quickly, the team iterated to meet their customers’ need to integrate these multidimensional engagements within their own web properties, in order to fully own the pivotal relationship with their audiences. Little did the Introvoke team know that their vision of a digitally connected world would be an accelerated mandate only a year later.
A New Paradigm of Work
Various iterations of hybrid, remote, and distributed working models have slowly but surely gained ground in the past decade as the business world has ridden exponential advancements in communications technology. Last year, however, we watched as video solutions abruptly graduated from a communications augmentation to a core pillar of productivity. The increasing trend is to digitize not only event halls and conference rooms, but also open workspaces and smaller meeting areas.
With the advent of growth levers such as cloud computing, IoT, AI, VR, and advanced video compression, in addition to the acceleration of remote-required working paradigms, the global video conferencing market continues to be poised for massive growth. The events industry is already massive, worth over $1T globally with double-digit growth every year. It touches literally every sector — spanning music and festivals, sports, industry conferences and corporate seminars. And yet leading research firms estimate that the global market for virtual events will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 23.2%, reaching highs of $404.5B by 2027. We believe that this trend is likely not only to continue, but to accelerate, making video conferencing and overall video-focused virtual enablement a staple of conducting key business across industries.
Even still, as we have collectively seen and used the (overwhelmingly third party) connectivity tools in today’s market, user experiences increasingly result in exhaustion rather than elation as these products were not built for the new virtual paradigm. Clearly, as businesses navigate the Future of Work, there is a pronounced need for a native, comprehensive, and reliable video communications solution that is fit for both external and internal communication.
The Power (and Future) of Introvoke
Launched in 2019, Introvoke is primed to both enable and drive the Future of Work.
The platform does not require attendees to download third party applications or join unfamiliar third party web platforms. Introvoke turns the static internal systems of an organization into dynamic virtual rooms and stages directly out-of-the-box: elevating massive conferences, live entertainment, education, and modest internal meetings alike by making them more enjoyable, intuitive, and interactive. Furthermore, the platform allows the enterprise to truly own its brand and customer experience natively within its own web property, and does so in an SSL authenticated manner, increasing security and overall user comfort in this new hybrid event paradigm. Oana believes the virtual component can amplify and accelerate how business is done. With the powerful technology of Introvoke leading the way, her vision is to seamlessly blend and bring closer together the digital and physical worlds of business. As Oana puts it, “we see introvoke being the ‘intel inside’ of every organization’s communication plan on the planet. Our mission is to be the heart of digital programs, be they hybrid or virtual, internal or external, and power everything from product launches to employee engagement, career fairs, annual summits and even entertainment — ultimately making the distributed world more connected than ever.”
Since launching, Introvoke has quickly proven its ability to attract large customers, convert its pipeline, and onboard customers while seamlessly expanding existing relationships. The company has already powered marquee events for SXSW, Ritual Motion, Barclays Accelerator, The Wharton School, and Comcast NBCUniversal, with thousands of happy attendees beaming about their Introvoke experience and excitedly pulling their friends (and workplaces) onto the platform. Customers also continue to be delighted by the value driven by the platform, be it via internal collaboration or immersive customer experiences. “SEO shot through the roof because guests were on our website. We raised nearly $250K towards our mission. Guests are still talking about their experience a month after the event itself,” said Jenn Parado, Executive Director at Simon’s Heart Non-Profit Organization, an early Introvoke customer.
With a robust product roadmap only outdone by their bold company vision, Oana and Introvoke are prepared to disrupt and push forward the video communications market for the better, and for good. We at Struck Capital cannot wait to help them turn this into a reality.