Jocelyn Cates, founder of VenueAgent
How did you start your business?
I used to be an event professional in Cincinnati. I ran a boutique makeup company, and sold event space for a local venue. The more I worked with those who were planning events, the more I realized that resources for cool venue space were limited, and that there was a void in the industry. People seemed to host events at the ‘same old places’ that had been on the market for years, mainly just because of lack of known options.
How did you come up the idea for your business?
Because of my experience, I figured that it was time to help unique and untapped venue space get visibility in the event market. It is really hard for small and privately owned spaces to compete for coveted event business and it’s my goal to give them a platform while also improving options for those looking for a place to host a party. VenueAgent makes it simple for unique venues to get noticed, and it makes sense for event planners to have an online booking option.
What resources here did you take advantage of and how did they help?
This is hard because I have been able to do so much for my company in Cincinnati, it could be a page all in itself! To begin with, I really engaged in the local startup community (Continuous Web Meetups were key in my early-stage growth.) I was very fortunate to win Cincinnati Innovates, which fueled my fantastic relationship with CincyTech
VenueAgent was also an inaugural Brandery
company (so valuable!). If that wasn’t enough, I was also involved with Bad Girl Ventures
and many other valuable local, incubator-type environments. I’m so thankful for the outpouring of resources here!
What inspires you?
There was a recent report that New Yorkers who rent out their space on Airbnb.com can bring in an additional income, averaging $21,000 per year. This inspires me because VenueAgent is doing a similar thing. We are giving business owners the opportunity to create a revenue stream from events that they simply didn’t have before.
What’s next for you and your company?
We are constantly hunting for cool places that suit what we are trying to do, and businesses that can share their unique venues for events. We’re also introducing a booking engine so the venues we work with can offer an easy plug-in (API) for their own website. This easily directs bookings through a system that can track and manage each event. Our goal is to make everything easy and risk-free for our venues, while we offer out-of-the-box and cool places for events for planners.
Compiled by Robin Donovan