Engaging and managing online groups can be the stuff of nightmares, but it is generally worth it — communities on average generate a 6,469% return on investment for organizations, according to one report. Fortunately for those who don’t want to get involved with the logistical nitty-gritty, there’s Hivebrite, a startup developing a rebrandable community creation platform for customers like Meero, The New York Stock Exchange, The Fulbright Program, the University of Notre Dame, Imperial College London, Bosch, Savory, the University of St. Gallen, TED, and 400 other customers.
After a year in which it processed over $3 million in payments and delivered more than 30 million emails, with over 100,000 people attending events organized through the company’s eponymous event management service, Hivebrite is announcing a fresh round of funding. Insight Partners led a $20 million series A round, bringing Hivebrite’s total venture capital raised to about $23 million.
“We’ve learned two major lessons after working with hundreds of customers these past few years,” CEO Jean Hamon said, adding that the fresh capital will strengthen Hivebrite’s operations in the U.S. and Europe. “The first one is that people create communities for a number of different reasons. You may start a community in order to build a solid base of volunteers that you can mobilize when needed, or to facilitate the sharing of expertise and knowledge, or to boost employment by matching talents with opportunities, or to collect feedback from your power users, or to raise funds for causes — use cases are endless, and success can look different from one community to the next. The second big takeaway is that the needs of each community evolve over time. It is often difficult to predict how your community will grow and behave, and how you will want to leverage it in the long run, which creates a need for a platform with a large feature set and great user experience, but also an extremely high degree of flexibility so you don’t have to migrate your community to another platform in the future.”
Hivebrite lets clients import members and profile data into a master database and target members by group, industry, location, or custom field when promoting an event or sending a communication. Admins can keep track of profile updates made by internal or external staff and perform mass updates to the member database, or run update campaigns that allow members to confirm or refresh specific profile information.
On the content management side, Hivebrite offers tools that afford control over the posts published by members. Privileged users can create pages and menus, add RSS feeds to automatically generate content, and toggle the visibility of content for unregistered visitors. Meanwhile, moderators can post public messages to the platform and give members access to documents and files they share, and they’re able to create groups that match particular organizational models such as clubs, industries, and chapters.
Event management modules help Hivebrite customers to organize community get-togethers and add them to calendars (or Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter profiles). Managers can send invitations and reminders to invitees based on location, history, or any custom criteria, and make available different tickets and prices for different member roles while letting users pay online through secure payment gateways.
Hivebrite handles communications, too, with an email campaign manager that delivers responsive messages and selects who will receive them based on redefinable criteria. It automatically sends newsletters and personalized weekly digests that summarize recent community activity, as well as in-app alerts and user notifications.
Customers can choose to activate Hivebrite’s job board, which helps members share and solicit opportunities from other members and allows access to more opportunities through third-party posting services. Users can upload their resume, create discussion threads around specific career development topics, and display projects, then let others contact them about jobs and internships.
On the backend, Hivebrite customers can charge for community access. They can view engagement metrics like email open, click-through, and bounce rates. That is in addition to data like user geographies and demographics, including the number of activations, levels of profile completion, and a list of the most-active users.
Hivebrite intends in the near future to deploy AI algorithms that identify what drives community engagement — insights admins and managers could use to decide upon engagement tactics. It’s also investigated AI-powered chatbots that might answer commonly asked questions about community tools.
“Insight Partners has long recognized Hivebrite’s ability to enrich communities and streamline effective communication. We spent a long time searching for the right platform to offer advisory services and foster collaboration within our community of over 200 portfolio companies and their executives, and Hivebrite was the perfect fit,” said Insight Partners managing director and Hivebrite board member Peter Sobiloff. “Our investment in Hivebrite is a testament to our belief in this innovative platform. As a customer, we are proud to have incorporated Hivebrite into our firm’s community management practice — as an investor, we look forward to seeing others follow suit.”
Hivebrite, which Hamon founded in 2012, is based in Paris and now has over 50 employees.