HeadBox prepares for expansion

What is the company all about? Take a look…

Three reasons you should be watching them:

· HeadBox has the most creative and out of the ordinary collection of spaces in the UK

· HeadBox recently closed its latest fundraise of £1.4m, having been 40 per cent oversubscribed

· HeadBox is preparing for expansion into major global cities

VITAL STATISTICS

· Company: HeadBox

· What it does, in a sentence: HeadBox is the UK’s first online marketplace for inspiring, off-site meeting and event spaces, linking guests directly with hosts through the platform.

· Founded: October 2015, London

· Founder/s: Andrew Needham

· Size of team: 12

· Your name and role: Andrew Needham, CEO and Founder of HeadBox

THE NEED-TO-KNOW

What problem are you trying to solve?

Booking a venue used to mean going through an intermediary and getting bogged down in phone calls, invoices and paperwork - all pet hates of today’s millennial customers. We’ve taken an inefficient process and revolutionised it. Using our technology, we’re making it quicker and simpler to search, book and pay for an event space by bringing the whole process online and connecting our corporate guests directly with our host venues.

How big is the market – and how much of it do you think you can own?

The global meeting and events industry is worth $535bn and the UK market alone is worth £40bn. We estimate that 20 per cent of that figure is generated by venue bookings. There is a huge market out there and it’s ready for new ideas and modernisation. We know we offer something truly game-changing in the industry and we’re confident and ambitious about our prospects, within the UK and beyond.

How do you make money?

The platform is free for guests. We make our money by taking a 10-15 per cent commission from our host venues.

Who’s on your team that makes you think you can do this?

The HeadBox team is a diverse and hugely talented bunch. We’ve got a wide range of experience spanning across marketing, SaaS sales, product design and UX and technology and software build. It’s our unique combination of skills that helps us to be creative and overcome problems as we are growing. We’ve recently doubled in size too, so not only do we have the skills, but we also have the man power! Our incredible Board of Directors and shareholders are also vital. They include Ralph Kugler, former Main Board Director of Unilever; Martin McCourt, former CEO of Dyson; Andy Cosslett, previously CEO of InterContinental Hotels and Operating Partner of Advent Private Equity; Aaron Simpson, Co-Founder & CEO of Quintessentially Group; and Johan Svanstrom, Global President of Hotels.com

Who’s bankrolling you?

We receive financial support from a fantastic group of private investors. Between them they have a wealth of expertise in the areas of hospitality, software & technology, social & digital marketing, PR and private equity. We don’t just value their financial support, it’s the belief they’ve placed in us to succeed that motivates us as much as anything else.

What advice would you give other entrepreneurs trying to secure that kind of finance?

Make use of the contacts you already have - both personal and professional - to find new contacts who might want to invest. Have your aims, your business plan and what makes your proposition unique clear in your mind and be prepared to pitch at any moment, however unusual the situation. You never know when an opportunity to secure investment might present itself! Finally, (and most importantly!), never give up. Don’t be put off by rejection: tenacity is key to success.

What do you believe the key to growing this business is?

Listening and learning from your customers so that your product/service fits with their most important needs. That’s how you create value. We are always reflecting on the original problems we set out to solve as well as new ones that arise and challenging ourselves whether our product and service is doing what it should. In a practical sense, we know we have a valuable product and we want to launch it in as many cities and countries across the world as we can.

What metrics do you look at every day?

As an e-commerce site, there is a lot of data analytics behind what we offer. We measure key metrics every day, such as website traffic, conversion, repeat rate and customer acquisition costs.

What’s been the most unexpectedly valuable lesson you’ve learnt so far?

You don’t know what you don’t know, until you know it.

It might sound obvious, but until you know your industry inside out and understand your customers in depth it’s hard to see the full potential of your idea. With more knowledge comes the vision to exploit different opportunities in the market and explore avenues that weren’t even on your radar when you first launched your idea.

What’s been your biggest mistake so far?

Running a business is all about risk; the risk of failure, the risk of making mistakes. But I view slipping up as one of the most valuable ways of learning the right approach. You shouldn’t be afraid of mistakes, but you should be willing to recognise them, own up to them and correct them quickly. I’m a big believer in the mistakes we make leading to bigger and better things.

What do you think is on the horizon for your industry in the year ahead?

The future of the events industry is dictated by the millennial consumer who expects their experience of searching, booking and paying for a space to be fast, simple and seamless. We’re venturing towards an events DIY revolution. I’m anticipating a rise in events-based tech, and that’s one of the reasons I’m so passionate about what we’re doing at HeadBox and excited about our future.

Which London start-up/s are you watching, and why?

We are working with a very exciting startup called Headliner which allows the user to instantly book musicians for any event. They are solving a similar problem to us in their market by arming the user with the information they need to book the type of entertainment they want instantly instead of relying on recommendations or sourcing the musicians individually.

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