Food, venue, drinks — event planning is a vendor puzzle that can often be difficult to solve. What if your usual vendor partners are busy or your local rolodex isn’t quite there in a new city as an event professional?
“Our solution is to be able to bring and create this event community, which is dual-sided,” says Ifebi. “People often create solutions just for event planners, but we focus on vendors. By having this platform, I can work across borders now and confidently plan an event in California out of state.”
Vendorspace allows event professionals to see vendor profiles, filter by date, services, and ratings, and swipe right for the perfect match — a sort of Tinder for event planners. Each vendor is carefully vetted before being added to the platform. Currently part of Atlanta Tech Village’s “It Takes A Village” program, this startup just completed a beta phase and is getting ready to launch to the public on March 1.
Here, Ifebi shares more about how her event management background helped her find her idea, how they tested their idea within the industry, and why they’re looking to raise in the next few months.
What triggered the idea for Vendorspace?
I have been doing events for over ten years now, from concerts to festivals. The idea came from a festival where I had this grand idea of doing a modern-day Woodstock, and it just didn’t work out that way. I lost so much money. Honestly, the root of the problem came from the amount of time it took for us to find vendors, just because there weren’t as many resources. We spend all of this time stalking vendors, when we could’ve focused on some of the other things to try to make our festival better.
How did you find your target audience while you worked on the platform?
We spent a lot of time doing user research by demoing our product to event professionals themselves to capture their pain points and experiences. We did one-on-one interviews and talked about what they feel would make events easier for them. We reviewed the research and identified the needs — from an event community to a booking calendar.
While conferences can also use our platform, our initial target market is the festival market and fair industry. We do plan on expanding to all events because they all require the same things. Events and vendors go hand-in-hand, and you can’t have one without the other.
What are the features you incorporated into the platform?
We’ve created profiles for vendors, where everyone is vetted through a questionnaire process to identify their skills. The event professional is then able to curate their results, from budget and location to the date and services needed. The vendors also submit price ranges for their services to provide options for event professionals with small budgets. The event professional can trust that they can book this person with confidence as well as see their ratings before doing so.
This makes a big difference from going through Craigslist or holding an event where you don’t have a solid network of partner networks. We implemented a swipe option, similar to Tinder, to easily browse through different vendors. Each profile contains their event resume, services, pictures, 360-degree videos for event spaces, and ratings.
You also offer bidding for vendors, correct?
What we created on the web platform was like a forum for reverse bidding. The event professional posts their need, and vendors bid on the need, then the event planner can choose the best bid. People come in and they bid low, or bid backwards. So, “hey, I only have $500, but I’d be willing to do it for $300,” or someone comes in and gives the information in their profile and says, “I’ll be doing it for $250.” It goes like that. Currently we’re working as a web platform and we’re launching the app this summer.
How are you promoting and bringing new vendors to the platform?
We were selected for one of the bigger event conferences around. They chose us as one of the top ten startups to look for, so being included in a lot of these different events and conversations has given us enough traction to add vendors to our beta.
Then we have an interesting goal hack that has been working for us — face-to-face interviews. This has been our marketing key. Through our company blog, we would go to events, cover them through a vendor perspective and ask about their feedback, and provide more information on each.
What’s your current funding status?
We’ve been bootstrapping, so it’s been self-funded to date. But right now we’re actually in the midst of trying to raise a seed round. We’ve gone through our beta and we did our MVP. We are looking to launch officially March 1st and release it to everyone. We’re currently having different meetings with investors as well as participating in pitch competitions to raise that seed round.
How has Atlanta helped you scale your startup after your move from Washington, D.C.?
The tech scene has been very supportive and honestly, I think it was the best move ever. We got accepted into the Atlanta Tech Village’s “It Takes a Village” accelerator, which expanded our scholarship. With them alone, we’ve been connected to so many different people, we’ve had the opportunity to test with some of their events, and connect with other co-working spaces.
The community, once they see you here, a lot of people connect with you and help you keep moving forward. It just feels like people want to help and that’s something that I really appreciate — that no one’s really shy, being able to provide or restore a connection or an introduction for you.