This Bengaluru-based startup offers the comfort of organising, attending tech conferences from home

Started in 2019 with an investment of Rs 50,000, KonfHub startup now has over 25 clients, including Microsoft, Red Hat, and Amazon.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown have forced many people to shift to online medium to carry out many tasks. Online mode has now become the ‘next normal’ and businesses are shifting towards virtual conferences and online events. With the focus shifting from offline to online in almost every field, online events industry too is experiencing a huge paradigm shift.

Banking on utilising the power of cloud-based technologies for this transformation is Bengaluru-based startup KonfHub.

From offering flexibility to attend conferences from the comfort of one’s home to extending one’s digital network exponentially, KonfHub believes these two factors are the primary game changers that could be leveraged on.

Team at KonfHub

“Organising technical conferences is a highly-complex task. It requires tremendous energy, effort, and coordination. The absence of a single platform that connects organisers, speakers, sponsors, and attendees was the primary pain point. KonfHub bridges the gap by providing a platform that ensures seamless and end-to-end execution of organising a technology conference,” says Co-Founder Ganesh Samarthyam who started the venture with his college mate Hari Kiran Kumar G in May 2019.

Konfhub is a platform for discovering and hosting high-quality technical events, mainly conferences. 

Founded with a seed capital of Rs 50,000, KonfHub claims to have now crossed a revenue of Rs 1 crore within a span of less than a year. The startup sold 50,000 plus tickets in the first year of its operations.

With over 25 esteemed clients including Red Hat, JetBrains, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Microsoft having benefitted from its offerings, KonfHub aims to further expand its clientele.

The story so far

Hari and Ganesh were college mates and met again after 10 years of completely college studies. They discovered common interests in sharing knowledge, building communities, and exploring and building new technologies. That is when the idea of CodeOps Technologies brewed. CodeOps Technologies is a software technology company focussing on products, consultation, and training.

“While running our own company, we wrote a book on Java. To share the knowledge we gained while writing the book, we started a Java Meetup Group. We quickly expanded to 10 meetup groups across various technologies, with 44,000 plus members within a span of three years,” says Hari.

As a natural extension to running meetups, the duo started organising conferences. They realised that many other developer communities they were interacting with also wanted to have their own conferences.

That is when they saw a huge void in the absence of a single platform or entity which could make organising a conference - ideation, defining the audience, speakers, sponsors, and event organisers - easy and successful. To solve this problem, Ganesh and Hari started KonfHub. It now serves as a one-stop solution for discovering and hosting technical conferences. 

“Our target audience are techies - predominantly developers. To stay relevant, developers have to constantly upgrade their skills. Our mantra is ‘learn, network, grow’ and for that, we started organising meetups in our initial days. This gave an opportunity to our audience to learn from experts, meet and network with other developers, and grow in their careers. Our initial customers were developer communities who wanted help/support in organising events,” explains Hari. 

It started with four members in 2019 and has now grown to a team of 12 members and is still expanding. 

The offerings

“The need for upskilling, switching to better roles, and exploring and adapting to newer technologies has been the precursor for the rapid growth of technology/developer communities. Developer networking is becoming more important than ever owing to the current economic/job conditions. A good online network means better possibilities for gaining referrals and being a part of the organisation one always aimed for,” explains Ganesh.

KonfHub claims to address these problems of learning new technologies, career growth, and expanding one’s professional network through a single solution – organising online events, which is set to grow exponentially in the next two to three years. 

“Before COVID-19, we were hosting or supporting technical events in the main cities of India, with clients across the world. With conferences going online, we have expanded our services to reach the global audience,” adds Ganesh.

The startup now offers various services to its clients including ticketing, speaker connects, sponsorships, and event organisation services like apps and gamification for audience engagement.

The professional fee for organising these events depends on various parameters like the size of the conference, extent of customisation required, and also from the specific services the client opts for.

The founders say their platform is open for extension of services. “We also engage third-party providers as and when required in order to achieve the scale and desired outcomes, given the limited team size we have,” says Hari.

Currently, the team has designed contests to take the skills of India’s professional developers to the global stage. The goal of the initiative is to enable developers to learn new technologies on Microsoft Learn and write technical blogs with demos and code samples sharing their experiences while building on Azure.

The company had also organised a virtual Cloud Community Days conference with free entry for participants from June 17 to June 19, 2020. This three-day virtual, developer-focussed, single-track conference on modern cloud technologies was sponsored by Microsoft and was focussed on containers/kubernetes, artificial intelligence and machine learning, devops, serverless, and more.

This conference was aimed at upskilling IT, software and technology professionals on cloud and other modern technologies so as to create new growth, learning, and networking avenues in the post COVID-19 world.

Scaling and growth

A recent survey by Events and Entertainment Management Association (EEMA) suggests that the Indian events and exhibition sector is expected to take a Rs 1 trillion hit because of the COVID-19 outbreak. 

While there are many similar startups in the market such as Sponseasy, EventKloud, and Snapcastr, what distinguishes KonfHub from them is its modern architecture and effective adoption of cutting-edge cloud technologies.

“Most competing startups operate as mere ticketing platforms. They don’t address the primary pain point of an organiser in getting the right audience and expert speakers together, let alone generating sufficient sponsorships. We address all the above issues efficiently, offering services from ticketing, speaker connects, and sponsorships, to event organisation services. Big clients engage us for end-to-end conference organisation - ideation to execution - across the cities,” claims Ganesh.

KonfHub has seen a 720 percent YoY growth in the first year of its operations and expects a similar growth this year since it is transitioning to online events. With a proportionate increase in its capacity and capability in marketing, sales, and engineering, it expects a 10x growth in the next two years. The company is also looking at raising funds to increase its scale of operations.

“We are witnessing a huge demand and traction for virtual technical events and conferences as they are great platforms to learn from experts. In the COVID-19 world, networking has assumed a different meaning as social distancing has become a global mandate and the need of the hour. With online conferences, connecting with people remotely has become more efficient and easier,” says Hari.

The KonfHub team claims to have grown to one lakh plus strong developer community today. “With our events pivoting to online, our reach is now expanding globally. With this, we are expecting to expand our customer base by at least 2x this year,” Ganesh tells YourStory.

The startup today is marching towards building the world’s largest developer community through a platform that connects developers, speakers, sponsors, and entrepreneurs. KonfHub plans to achieve this by increasing the engineering and operations team size and also by understanding the various cultures and policies across the globe.

Edited by Javed Gaihlot