Spearheading Virtual Events: Muhammad Younas, Alum BSc 2005
Post the pandemic there has been a large-scale shift from on-ground events to virtual events. Are they here to stay? What does the future hold? What role are LUMS alumni playing in this?
Muhammad Younas, an alum of the BSc Computer Engineering batch of 2005 at the Syed Babar Ali School of Science and Engineering, LUMS, recently had the privilege of being invited to BBC World News to talk about the future of events and discuss how his virtual events product, vFairs, is helping organisations around the world take their events online.
Younas, CEO of vFairs credits his alma mater for his success saying, “LUMS was a true game-changer for me. First, it set me up perfectly to get the Fulbright scholarship, and that opened new doors for me. Moreover, the all-round programme equipped me with the necessary technical and entrepreneurial skills required for taking a venture to a global scale. The fact that so many Luminites are making an impact on the global stage is a testament to the quality of education and exposure LUMS provides.”
So what is vFairs?
vFairs is a virtual events platform that is helping organisations around the world host online events. From virtual career fairs, online trade shows and university open days, vFairs helps organisers connect with remote audiences from the comfort of their home or office. It uses a combination of 3D virtual environments, virtual booths, live webinars, chat rooms and digital content to drive engagement. As history goes, vFairs started as a side-project in 2012 of Bayt.com, the premier job site in the Middle East, to connect regional employers with job seekers in real-time via Virtual Job Fairs. Younas saw a bigger opportunity with this product as organisations needed a cost-effective way to connect with geographically distributed audiences and needed a marketing platform that was more measurable than a physical event. Thus, he volunteered to take the reins of the product, white-labelled it and started selling it to companies to run branded online events.
“vFairs is truly changing the way the world hosts events and making the world a more connected, engaged space regardless of geographical distance. It has been an amazing channel for organisations during the pandemic to ensure business continuity, but the future is even brighter as we see a hybrid world where physical and virtual events will co-exist. The opportunities are "virtually" limitless. Thus, we're looking for the best talent around the world to join us in this journey, especially from Pakistan where we are witnessing the emergence of true leaders with the right balance of technical and communication skills. The amount of praise our customers are showering for our Pakistan-based project management team is simply extraordinary", adds Younas.
Under the leadership of Younas, vFairs has become one of the fastest-growing start-ups in North America, registering 20x revenue growth compared to last year and signing customers like Nestle, SAP, Harvard University, Stanford University, T-Mobile, IBM, Motorola, AT&T, Bell Canada and Abbott. During this growth spike, Younas scaled the employee base to over 200 global employees, with an office in Lahore that houses over 100 project managers, developers, designers, and marketers, many of whom are Luminites. Other LUMS graduates in the vFairs leadership team include the Director of Marketing, Aatir Abdul Rauf, BSc Computer Sciences, 2006 and Head of Technology, Arfeen Godil, Bsc Computer Sciences, 2005.
To date, the company has run close to 2000 events and served 2 million+ attendees and 40K+ exhibitors across 45 countries. One of its most successful events staged so far include one held for the United Nations, which featured celebrities like Michelle Obama, Meghan Markel and Priyanka Chopra. This had a whopping record attendance of 40,000 attendees and garnered tremendous praise.
Talking about the company’s current success and its projected progress, Huda Nadeem Zaman, Content Marketing Expert at vFairs says, “The company has grown 20x during the pandemic because of a massive surge in demand. However, this simply catalysed a realisation that organisations were already having and made virtual events a mainstream industry. We expect the company to grow rapidly in the next 10 years, opening up more networking solutions, creating localised presence in several global locations and leading innovation in the virtual event space."