Rebecca Kelly, co-founder of VenueScanner reveals all about her start-up

One to watch!

1. Where did the business begin?

In my previous roles it often fell to me to arrange the work Christmas parties, team away days and workshops. Whilst I enjoyed the responsibility, trying to book a venue for my team was an arduous task. I quickly found out that while there are plenty of venues available the online demand was being funnelled into a limited supply of spaces due to restrictive search processes.

This makes those spaces less available and therefore pushes up prices. This took me back to ‘inequality of demand and supply 101’ from my economics learnings! As I am fairly mathematical and worked in digital marketing I was used to optimising efficiency and saw an opportunity to do this in the venue sphere through automation and outsourcing. I discussed the idea with my colleague, Benjy Meyer, who shared my passion for business and innovation and the idea of VenueScanner was born.

2. What services do you offer?

VenueScanner is a data-led self-service venues platform. It empowers event’s organisers, such as Personal Assistants (PAs), to find and book suitable venues quickly, simply and affordably. We built the marketplace around one simple mission - to make venue discovery, search and booking as easy as Amazon makes shopping.

3. What’s the company’s biggest achievement so far?

VenueScanner’s long-term success will depend on onboarding a broad range of venues with concentrated presences in key regions. As such, managing to acquire twice as many venues as any of our competitors in under a year, leading up to reaching the 10,000 venues mark was a huge moment for us. It signalled our ability to live up to our mission of providing event organisers with the right venue for every occasion; a factor that is becoming even more important as our user base continues to grow fourfold month on month.

4. Have you won any awards?

We haven’t yet – it’s still early days – but an award-winning service is what we are striving for!

5. What advice would you give to someone who’s thinking about starting their own business?

Think carefully about when it’s time to take the leap from your business being a side-gig to your full-time career. Benjy and I began working on VenueScanner in March of 2016, while both of us were in full-time employment, and only left our jobs in October. This meant we had a very intense couple of months, working nightshifts to build the new business, but ensured we had the financial and business base to keep the company and ourselves alive once we made it our full-time occupation.  

6. What failures have you faced? How did you get through it?

When we first began fundraising we approached our campaign in the wrong way, pitching to VCs rather than individual investors and neglecting to optimise the wealth of business contacts we’d built up throughout our careers. Taking the time to go back and re-educate ourselves on the appropriate fundraising efforts for each stage of our business journey enabled us to attract greater investment.

7. What’s your USP? 

Unlike any other venue service, we are led by tech. At numerous points in our journey we have had the financial option of growing the company through new hires but have always prioritised re-investing in the platforms digital capabilities, starting on the supply side. As such we are on course to become the first and only fully automated service, meaning that event’s organisers will be able to access information of venues, such as availability, instantaneously.

8. What’s been your proudest moment on your business journey?

As a start-up, it can be challenging to get large, well-established companies to trust you. Within our first year we have already been used by the likes of Nike, Deloitte and Sainsbury’s. The confidence they displayed in us to deliver the best possible service has helped build the foundations for the business’ collective pride.

9. Where do you hope the business will go in the future?

We want to continue expanding our offering to place event organisers and attendees even more firmly in the driving seat. This will be achieved through extending our presence in key UK cities (we want to have 50,000 venues onboard in a year) before moving into Europe in eight months’ time. Increasing the number of affordable venues on the site will be a key component of this, as will opening up access to lesser-used spaces that are crying out for business, such as pubs and churches.

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