How this company transformed its business model to survive the impact of COVID-19

Leila - Noel, GM Events

The coronavirus pandemic has had a major impact on the world of business. One of the sectors to be affected worst by the pandemic was the events industry, and 2020 saw the cancellation of many prominent events and exhibitions. Great Minds Event Management (GM Events) is a leading turnkey B2B event management company, offering its clients fully integrated event solutions. Their events have been the catalysts for millions of dollars of contracts and business partnerships in the GCC ranging across many markets and almost all key critical sectors.  

After working with GM Events to provide a funding round, Beehive caught up with their Managing Partners, Leila Masinaei and Noel Greenway, who shared how they had to adjust their business model to stay afloat and how Beehive helped them maintain their cashflow. 

Read the full interview below. 

Using Beehive to Fund your Business 

Why did you choose Beehive for your funding?  

Leila: We chose Beehive for funding because of their favourable financing rates compared to bank loans. 

What did you use your funding for?  

Leila: We used the funding to maintain cashflow while we expanded our workforce as we needed to diversify our business offerings and portfolio as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

How did you find the process?  

Noel: We found the process simple and streamlined unlike in banks. All requirements for the application were explained to us beforehand. 

The Pandemic Impact 

Did COVID-19 affect your business?  

Leila: Unfortunately, yes it did. The global pandemic, in addition to bringing the world to a halt, posed many challenges to the daily operations of almost every company in every sector. We are an events management agency that happens to be among the first industries to get hit as all event permits were withdrawn from the first quarter of 2020, way before the closure of borders or lockdowns. 

Noel: We went from having a lineup of 25+ government-led, large-scale summits, conferences, and exhibitions, to having 0 overnight. 

What has been the biggest challenge throughout this period? 

Leila: The challenges we faced have been the same as everyone else for most parts, which is the inability to make any long-term plans or commit to any major undertakings due to lack of clarity and visibility still about the future. 

The Pandemic Pivot 

How did you adapt? 

Noel: We responded to the challenge of COVID-19 by researching the needs of the market in terms of technologies to sustain and ensure business continuity, and matching market needs to available solutions. We launched our digital event agency, DigiConnect, which has grown to be the largest digital event agency in the MENA region in less than a year. 

How are you operating now and how will you continue in 2021? 

Leila: We have resumed work in our office, with flexible hours and work from home options for all employees to accommodate the current climate. We have relaunched a series of our physical events, in particular, the main government-led ones and those that are tied into the Expo2020 schedule. 

Noel: However, the number of our physical events is a lot less than normal times. We continue to carry out our digital events with the portfolio and client growing on a daily basis. We will continue to operate with a 50:50 mix of physical and virtual events in 2021. 

What positives, if any, have you experienced from COVID-19?  

Leila: We did not have a digital agency before the pandemic and today, we own and operate the biggest digital events agency in the region. 

Noel: Our team, expertise, clients we serve, and even markets we service has also grown rapidly and drastically through the pandemic. We have served clients from Latin America to Australia and the Asia Pacific as physical borders do not impact digital event delivery. 

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