The Paris company keeping events going through lockdown

Lucien Derhy is the cofounder and CTO of Digitevent. Discover how the software company used Whereby to help host and manage virtual events during the pandemic.

After graduating from Paris Dauphine university, Lucien and his cofounder, Jonathan Astruc, dropped their jobs in finance as they saw a buzz developing around event attendees signing in using a tablet. “We created a proof of concept, and it was successful. Then we grew into a 360-degree software for event professionals.” Jonathan manages the sales side of the business, while Lucien is CTO, leading a team of 12 developers. 

Pre-COVID life in Paris was pretty idyllic for Lucien – cycling to work in the 10th arrondissement, visiting the museums and art galleries, and playing tennis. The whole team was on-site, working hard on delivering an all-in-one platform for event organizers. Back then, only around 20% of events they worked on were virtual, with massive numbers congregating across the world. A highlight? “The Google User Summit in Brazil, with more than 10,000 attendees in 2018. It was a real challenge, with 11,000 people welcomed within a few hours.”

But during lockdown, that flipped. It was more like 80% virtual events, many cancelled at short notice. Lucien and the team had to find new ways to meet their clients’ needs and expectations. People were quickly becoming savvy to the simple lead-generating webinar, so they had to innovate to go above and beyond. “We had to act quickly, but in a smart way, and develop outstanding technologies to allow virtual events – and create a new value for our service, in order to change a threat into an opportunity.”

Although the team were mostly office-based, they adapted quickly to remote working thanks to their youth and flexible corporate culture. They knuckled down and shipped the software. “The development team worked hard and was able to deliver the features shortly, enabling us to offer a whole new offer of virtual and hybrid events.”Now participants could network via interactive org charts, book meetings, and check-in smoothly. Digitevent’s success working remotely was largely down to the team coordinating online with tools like Monday, Notion, G Suite and Whereby. 

“We were already Whereby clients for our webinars,” Lucien says, “And we liked the solution so much that we thought it would be great to have Whereby for our own clients.”In little time, Digitevent became a Whereby Embedded customer, slotting our video call software into their event management solutions. And things are going great. “Whereby has one of the simplest but most efficient User Interfaces on the market.. We knew it was a great feature, but we didn’t expect that much enthusiasm from our clients.”

When lockdown eases, Lucien sees Digitevent being more flexible around working in the physical office. “Remote work should stay a bonus and rightly balanced, to keep comfort, productivity and human fulfilment.”And that’ll help with their plans for 2021 – growing in international markets across the UK, Europe and US. Working remotely as a team is setting them up for success across time zones with new clients. 

Ultimately, Lucien believes that virtual events are the perfect add-on to physical events, and are great for smaller meetings, but people will always want to meet in person. “Virtual events can do the trick for a time… but they won’t replace physical events.”

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