Wedding planning tool morphs into full-blown event planner
Cloud-based, with two subscription models
NECESSITY is the mother of invention, inspiration drives innovation – you’ve heard them all, in various iterations. Everyone seems to forget the driving force that frustration can be.
Yusno Yunos and his wife Noamifarah Rahimuddin faced that in 2007 when planning their wedding.
“We wanted to arrange everything from the guest list, invitations, to the event program and food arrangements, but we got highly stressed trying to do this by ourselves," says Yusno (pic), a Tenaga Nasional Universiti scholar and Masters graduate in computer science from US-based Carnegie Mellon University.
“I'm pretty sure anyone who getting married will go through the same stress and so I came up with Evenesis, to help such people," he adds.
Armed with determination to solve this problem for other would-be couples planning to get married, Yusno and his wife gave birth to their brainchild in 2010 -- Evenesis Event Management System, a web-based software that can help you effectively manage your events in a holistic manner.
Evenesis started out as a wedding planner software but evolved into a full-fledged event planning tool, he said.
Still employed on a full-time basis as a software programmer and consultant in 2008, Yusno mustered whatever spare time he had to work on the project. After speaking to people knowledgeable in the MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions, exhibitions) line, he and his wife realized that Evenesis had even greater potential and the scope of the tool could be much bigger.
"We thought about how to expand the scope as we knew the events business was a big industry, and that wedding planning was just a small part of it. We asked ourselves, why not create a tool for the whole event industry?
“As we did more research, we found out that the events industry was very fragmented. Many things were manually done but could be easily automated via software, and so we worked at it,” he says.
In 2009, Yusno left full-time employment to become a freelance software programmer, a move which allowed him to work on his business plan for Evenesis while at the same time make ends meet.
A year later, Yusno and Noamifarah founded Y Us Sdn Bhd, an MSC-status company, to work on Evenesis full time.
Event planning done differently
According to Yusno, Evenesis is a cloud computing- and web-based event management system that not only handles pre-event, but present-day as well as post-event, activities.
He claims that other, similar tools may have one or two of these components but not the entire event chain, a feature that sets Evenesis apart from its competitors.
"For example, some companies may do pre-event registration and ticking, but that's all they do," he says. "What we do is that we take care of the entire spectrum of activities: pre-, during and post-event."
On pricing models, Yusno said there are two kinds of subscriptions -- individual and corporates.
"We operate on a freemium model because any one who signs up to use Evenesis will get it free the first time, always. Should there be a follow-up, individuals pay on an event-by-event basis," he explains.
"Corporates on the other hand can sign up for a year's subscription and can use Evenesis as many times as they choose to. The exact pricing is also determined by the level of support for the number of users using the system," he adds.
Asked how he funded his venture, Yusno says his first round of funding came from the Multimedia Development Corporation's pre-seed grant for RM150,000 in January 2010, which got him past prototype development and into his first version for Evenesis.
"Much of 2011 was self-funded through bootstrapping, and in September 2011, we won another round of funding, this time through Cradle's CIP 500 fund," he adds.
Moving forward, Yusno says his company was in discussions with some other private investors to take Evenesis beyond 2012, but declined to elaborate further.
On the Evenesis product roadmap, he says there are plans not only to ensure that the system manages event processes effectively but also to enable suppliers such as hotels and caterers to plug in to the platform in order to make it easy for his customers to have a holistic view of the entire event management supply chain.
There are still several challenges that face him in the year to come, he concedes.
"One of our big challenges is to get the right people and the right core team members to ensure that we can work together,” he says.
“Also, being a small company, it's hard for Y Us to attract the right talent as we can't really pay premium.
“That said, we're slowly hiring and looking for the right kind of people. There are technically competent people out there but they may not share our passion and may not stay for long,” he says.
On what advice he would give budding entrepreneurs, Yusno says, "When we started off, we had to emphasize our credentials and prove ourselves. But as we gained some experience, it got easier.
"Whatever it is, you must always be humble and treat people the way you want them to treat you. After all, any business is about the relationship and trust factor,” he adds.