For Happied CEO April Johnson, the current strategy for company event-planning just doesn’t quite work, especially in the 2022 virtual workplace.
“Every company does events, and the vast majority of them don’t have dedicated in-house resources to properly plan their team, client and community events,” Johnson told Technical.ly. “It’s often the overworked executive assistant, the team manager or the CEO themself planning the events.”
Johnson’s company is an online event-planning startup in DC that provides companies with mail-order kits that enable activities like making cocktails and cookie decorating with the help of tech. The company specializes in events for hybrid and virtual teams seeking more company culture connections. With a new seven-figure raise, it hopes to build out its team so other companies can better benefit from its online-focused services.
The company just closed a $1.6 million fundraising round from HearstLab (making Happied a portfolio company) with additional participation from Virginia Venture Partners and High Street Equity, a Black-owned and -operated VC firm. The round follows the company’s acceptance into the 2021 Minnesota Twins Accelerator (produced by startup accelerator giant Techstars) after a pandemic-induced pivot.
According to Johnson, the funds will support building out a development team, investing in growth marketing and expanding Happied’s in-person event geographies (of note, it’s currently hiring a senior front-end developer, and Johnson said she’d love to hire locally). With the funds, Johnson said she’s thrilled to continue the work of changing how companies plan events, with the goal of improving the quality of life for attendees and the return on investment for Happied.
Johnson said her initial vision was to create authentic, meaningful connections that could be made efficient and frictionless with the help of tech. While this initial came through the company’s B2C model pre-pandemic (which connected DC professionals to happy hour spots), she said the last two years forced the company to think deeper about the problem it was solving.
The initial push in the current direction came from the accelerator acceptance, but Johnson said the raise is a huge step for the company’s new direction.
“The raise, coupled with feedback from the 100s of companies we serve, represents additional validation of implementing our vision through creating meaningful, frictionless corporate events at scale using technology,” Johnson said.