First off, can you tell us about your background and your product?
Our CEO was previously CEO at a research consultancy and often needed to book out-of-the-ordinary spaces for his clients, such as Nokia and Coca-Cola for co-creation sessions. He was shocked by how difficult it was to find, book and pay for spaces without what felt like endless calls emails and intermediaries. He felt that there must be a quicker, more simple way to book venues for any work related event by leveraging technology, and so the idea for HeadBox marketplace was born. Since then, we’ve launched two more products HeadBox Business (HeadBox for companies and organisations) and STACK (HeadBox for Host venues), which means that we are now a SaaS (software as a service) enabled marketplace. Our vision is to reinvent the global events industry through technology. We believe that technology is key to solving our customers’ problems, which is why we’ve continued to build digital products that streamline the venue booking process for both our Hosts and Guests.
How long did it take to build your initial prototype and how did you validate it?
It originally took us 6 months to build the MVP which we launched in Beta in October 2015. Before we launched we held regular feedback sessions with our first Hosts and Guests, to find out what they wanted the product to do and to further understand their pain points. That feedback then shaped the subsequent iterations of the product.
How did you get your first paying customer and how long did it take?
Our first paying customer came about one week after launching the website. As we were a new company, we had low volumes of traffic so relied heavily on PPC adverts at that time and word of mouth. Our first customer came via a PPC campaign and she booked a meeting room quickly and seamlessly through the website in a few clicks. It was a very exciting moment for the team and we couldn’t wait to get customer number two! We did take a photo of that moment, in a coffee shop in Central London where we were having our managers meeting at the time.
what worked and what didn't work when finding your first users?
For any startup the really early days are spent ascertaining which channels work best for your website. Our launch was documented really well by the technology press so we received good coverage in the likes of TechCrunch. Pre launch, we had build a small community of HeadBox advocates who all booked venues as part of their job. They were instrumental in recommending us to colleagues and friends and providing feedback on the first version of the product. These relationships also led to more advanced conversations with businesses regarding HeadBox becoming their preferred venue supplier, which became the early version of HeadBox Business. In order to drive high volumes of traffic to the website while we worked on our SEO, PPC was critical. This meant we had to use a good amount of our marketing budget on this channel but it meant that we could grow our audience while the organic traffic increased. We then in time lessened the PPC budget and organic traffic become our main channel for traffic.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs looking to onboard their first users?
Test everything in the early stages. Every business is different so you just have to find the right channel which delivers the right results for yours. We carried out controlled tests across lots of digital channels such as PPC, Display and social media in the beginning of HeadBox. Once we had driven users to the website, the team would be on hand to provide help and support should they need it and as a new company I think our early adopters were very impressed with how hands on we were with taking them through the process and helping them understand how to use the product.
What resources have helped you in the early stages?
When we were finding our feet consultants really helped guide is in the right direction, getting experts in to help is a sure fire way to success. Another great channel of support was through taking inspiration, advice from other similar, non-competing businesses such as Headliner. Joining forces with similar startups who are experiencing the same problems or challenges is a invaluable way to get advice, inspiration and help.
How can people reach you and find out more?
If you like more information regarding any London Venues. You can get in touch with us on firstname.lastname@example.org who are always happy to help!