Reggie Aggarwal led Cvent through an IPO, in 2013, as well as a $1.65 billion sale that took the event-software company private three years later. Then, in the middle of the pandemic, the Tysons, Virginia-based firm went public again, this time through a SPAC deal with Dragoneer Growth Opportunities Corp. II. Here's how the 52-year-old founder turned a dire reality for his business into a $5 billion-plus valuation. --as told to kevin j. ryan

In early 2020, 95 percent of our revenue was con­nected to in-person events. The pandemic wasn't something we'd modeled even as the worst case. We had to make massive adjustments quickly. We pivoted to create a virtual product, and went from $32 million in annual revenue related to virtual events in 2019 to $266 million in 2021.

Amid this growth, we decided going public would be the best mechanism to get more capital to invest in the business and continue to grow aggressively.

GROWTH INDUSTRY
Value of the global event management-software market
$7 Billion
2021
$14.1 Billion
2026 (projected)
Source: MarketsandMarkets

A SPAC made the most sense for a few reasons. When we did our IPO, we had a two-week road show, during which we met with investors for maybe an hour at a time. For this deal, we did a multimonth road show, several meetings apiece with investors, many of them lasting many hours. Plus, with a SPAC, unlike with an IPO, you're allowed to include your future projections. That was important to us, because we were coming off a year of overall negative growth in which we'd performed the best in the fourth quarter.

We listed on Nasdaq in December 2021. The deal placed our valuation at $5.3 billion. It was a symbolic event for our employees. They had been through a lot. Going public is such a happy moment. The financial community and the public are signaling that you're someone they want to invest in. They're showing you they believe in you.