How UK Startup HeadBox Re-Invents The Events Industry Through Technology

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Founded by former FACE CEO Andrew Needham, marketplace startup HeadBox serves clients like Google, BBC, or Sky. Head of Operations Ann-Marie Rossiter spoke to us about the transformation of an entire industry:

How would you describe HeadBox in a few words?

HeadBox is the UK’s first online marketplace for inspiring meeting, off-site and event venues. It allows you to search, book and pay for over 4500 venues in a matter of clicks.

What inspired you to create marketplace? How did it all start?

Our CEO, Andrew Needham, was previously CEO and Founder of Face, a global tech-driven insight consultancy, working with large corporate clients such as Unilever, Nokia, and CocaCola. HeadBox was born from frustration and the need to find yet another amazing space at very short notice for one of his largest clients to deliver an important stakeholder workshop. The process was extremely frustrating, there were endless phone calls, emails, forms, contracts, lots of paper, trips to the scanner and photocopier and most importantly he spent a lot of time speaking to traditional venue listing sites who were acting as an intermediary between him and the spaces he wanted to book. The whole process was alarmingly out of date, very inefficient and incredibly time-consuming.

Eventually, he found a venue that met all of his criteria, but not where he was expecting to find it. The space he settled on was a very cool private cinema that was sitting empty during the day. The client loved it and he got an idea for a company that would do this very job – unlock thousands of under-utilised spaces, opening them up to be used for meetings, off-sites, and events. A company that opened up people’s imagination to the different uses and applications of space; that would change the way we think about space; what we make, create and do in a space. And crucially, it would be a website where it made the whole process much, easier, simpler and faster.

The trend to share spaces has gained speed throughout the last years, hence the fierce competition. What makes HeadBox stand out of the crowd? What is the key differentiator?

Our vision at HeadBox is to re-invent the events industry through technology. This starts by changing the way people search, book and pay for spaces by bringing the whole process online. We were the first to do this in the UK and our focus on solving the many problems and inefficiencies in this industry through clever technology has continued unabated. Our dynamic pricing feature that we launched a few weeks ago, is just one example of this. It’s is an industry first, allowing venues to list over 100 price combinations per space all of which can be activated for guests to book online. This raises the bar again for all of our competitors who still operate a traditional venue listing model and aren’t transactional.

What is the biggest challenge that the company has faced?

Our biggest challenge is also our biggest opportunity. There is a lack of smart technology in the meetings and events industry to solve multiple problems of inefficiency and manual, outdated and time-consuming processes. Some of these problems are complicated so finding simple and easy solutions from a UX point of view can be challenging. But there is a huge opportunity to bring the industry up to speed with the millennial customers who expect everything to be done in one click. So it is just a matter of time and educating both guest and host customers that there is a faster, better, and simpler way of booking and paying for amazing spaces.

How UK Startup HeadBox Re-Invents The Events Industry Through TechnologyAre you using HeadBox internally? How does that affect the viewpoints in the team?

Our team all use HeadBox on a daily basis and we hold regular testing sessions for the team to try new features of the website before they are released to production. It’s imperative that we have an understanding of how our customers may use HeadBox, identify areas that we can improve and have an open feedback channel from the team to our product department. When you build a new product from scratch it’s important that you gather as much feedback and criticism from your customers as possible and we extend this to the team too.

What is the most memorable moment throughout the history of HeadBox?

At HeadBox we talk about founding moments and over the last 18 months, there have been many. Launching our MVP in London to over 300 people with 1000 live spaces was the first. Launching the subsequent UK cities Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol and Liverpool in the 6 months that followed was another.

Receiving our first bookings from huge corporates such as Google, Sky, BBC, and Diageo in year one as well as watching the revenue grow significantly month by month. Securing our first enterprise client and moving into our first private office are all moments that stand out for us as a team.

The UK will exit the EU in approximately 2 years – do you think that will influence London’s standing as one of Europe’s biggest startup hubs? If so, how?

That’s the six million dollar question! There are still lots of unknowns so I think the London Mayor’s approach to Brexit, that London is open for business is the right one. As long as we continue to welcome young skilled talent to London and the government continues to support small business and technology startups in the way it has been doing until now, then London will continue to be a major startup hub, post-Brexit. The good thing about technology is that it has no respect for borders, European or otherwise.

What’s one piece of advice you can give to fellow founders for their startup?

Find your purpose as a company. You aren’t going to be able to motivate yourself or your team if you don’t have a clear understanding of why it is you do what you do. At HeadBox we know that our purpose is to reinvent the events industry through technology. This focus allows us to constantly challenge the way things are done within our industry, establish how we can solve the big problems and build brilliant products to resolve them. We want HeadBox to become “the go-to platform that brings people and amazing spaces together to make brilliant things happen everywhere”.




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