Finding event space can be tricky at times, but it seems that EventUp is making its mark in the world and creating a really great online community marketplace where producers and venue owners can connect and form long-lasting partnerships. Initially created out of the Science Inc. incubator and supported by Michael Jones, the former CEO of MySpace, EventUp has rocketed out of the gate since February and has grown to have venue listings in major cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York City.
Today, EventUp is announcing two major things: that it’s expanding its reach once again to the great city of Chicago and that it’s secured $1.8 million in seed funding led by Lightbank, a Chicago-based investment firm that was started by the founders of Groupon, Eric Lefkofsky and Brad Keywell. Since its launch early this year, the company has seen its event space listings skyrocket 100% each month with both private and commercial property owners flocking to the site in order to have it listed. Never has there been a centralized place that will allow venue owners to share their information so that event producers can quickly find their venues. With the launch of the service in Chicago, the company has over 3,000 event spaces available for booking nationwide and it’s only going to grow.
This incredible growth and expansion has probably gotten the attention of both Mr. Lefkofsky and Mr. Keywell. Along with them, Crosscut Ventures, NEA, New World Ventures, and several angel investors have decided to fund the company so that it can continue to expand nationwide and be a great tool for event producers and venue owners.
EventUp has not released any information on the number of bookings it has received over the past few months, but CEO Tony Adam told me that he was happy with the amount of bookings. Along the way, the company has even evolved the way that they’ve reached out to clients. Previously, it was all through lead generation which became insanely painful, but now they’re processing about 10-20 leads per day all done through SEO, search marketing, Facebook, public relations, social media, and much more. What is surprising for them is that originally the company had targeted weddings as a major demographic for their service, but soon realized that the barriers to entry in this market segment is really tough, so they’re now focused on appealing to personal events like birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, and other life events. In addition, corporate clients, which they thought was one of their surprising demographics, is becoming quite interested in EventUp services–they’re currently getting a lot of corporate clients interested.
When we launched, we expected inbound interest from consumers, and as of late, we’ve seen revenue growth for things like anniversary parties and birthday parties, but we’ve been blown away by the increase in bookings on the corporate side. We are becoming the go-to source for events, with the best selection of the most sought-after locations and comprehensive directory of vendors.
In order to help further the goals of becoming the go-to source for events and comprehensive directory of vendors, EventUp will rely on the expertise and resources of its two lead investors and draw from Mr. Lefkofsky and Mr. Keywell’s experience in working with local businesses so that the company can begin to build a rapport and relationship with them that will enable EventUp to create a value-add proposition that may be appealing to event producers. Imagine being able to book a truly unique space, like the house from HBO’s hit show Entourage, or Marilyn Monroe’s former San Francisco home, or a million dollar villa and then having immediate access to a list of vetted and accomplished caterers, photographers, valet parking services, security consultants, bartenders, party suppliers, DJs, and much more. Soon, EventUp will begin to offer custom insurance policies like what you might expect from AirBnB–right now it’s on a customized basis, but properly vetting customers and producers is important to the company to ensure safety and satisfaction, so background checks are traditionally carried out on producers in order to give the venue owners a bit more peace of mind.
EventUp is definitely growing quickly. Right now they’re getting over 100 event spaces signed up each day. It’s only going to be a matter of time before they corner the market in their current cities. Mr. Adam told me that after Chicago, they’re going to move to other destinations like Miami, Washington, DC, and Austin, plus other smaller metropolitan areas to see how well they do. It seems that they’re on track to expand their services to a major and minor metropolitan area each month so if you have an event space you want to have noticed, then pay attention to where EventUp is going as it’ll be a great place to have a presence.
The company currently has 10 people on staff and is working hard to reduce the friction that producers have in selecting venue space and also help automate the selection process. Over 5,000 producers have signed up and shown interest in the service. But don’t let this number fool you–the number of event producers can seem low, but could be really significant in that these are corporate spaces, not rental properties like what you would expect on AirBnB–they can afford to spend much more on a single event space than what several people can spend to stay a week in a residential property. Oh, and just how much does EventUp take? It’s a 10% flat fee, regardless of how many days or other conditions. A more structured fee plan may be implemented later on, but right now they’re more focused on the process instead of the fee.
You can begin viewing event space in the Chicago metropolitan area now.
Photo Credit: NY Curbed