NY Startup Interview: Kelsey Recht, CEO & Founder, VenueBook

Today’s interview is with Kelsey Recht, founder of VenueBook.

VenueBook is NYC’s 1st full service, complimentary, online event planning tool created to take the pain out of event planning. Think OpenTable but for events.

Q: What is your company/service?

VenueBook’s new technology simplifies and streamlines the event booking process for both the organizers and venues. It allows users to search venues based on specific criteria, match them with only relevant options and allows them to book all event details/payment from start to finish. For venues, it allows them to list their space complimenary, vet new leads and manage all their events on VenueBook’s cloud-based software program.

Q: What were you doing before starting this company?

Working in the finance industry.

Q: Where did your vision/inspiration for this company come from?

Somehow I was tapped to become the “event oganizer” for a few multiple non-profits I was involved in. I had a tight budget and had to find a venue to accomodate it and it was really frustrating! There was no resource or tool to guide someone like me looking for a very specific type of space with these specific criteria I had. I know it exsists out there – its NYC!

Q: What problem are you solving, and why does the world need your product?

In this technology age, you can do about everything in NYC via a few computers clicks; grocery shop, find out when the next train is coming, go on a virtual job interview, blind date, etc. So why is it so hard in “New Tech City” to book an event online? With new restaurants, bars, lounges and event spaces opening up every day, “venue hunting” for a birthday dinner, co-worker’s good-bye party, your boss’s sales dinner, or wedding can be very overwhelming.

While there are listing websites, most of them cater to mainly high-end planners making it difficult for most to find a location. The sites that do list affordable options do not offer a full booking service; the user has to call or send an email into cyberspace only hoping to get a response from the venue in a timely manner. Our solution was to create a resource that went beyond listings and actually customize “venue hunting” to make it easier for the organizer to communicate what they were looking for to the venues and the venues to effortlessly find and book the business on the fly.

Q: What would you consider to be a successful result for your company?

Users uncovering venues they never knew existed, could afford or would accommodate their very specific needs, for any size/type party. Also, to save time & money! Users can review/compare event proposals all on one website.

For venues to fill their last minute spaces, land new leads and have an easier way to manage all their bookings.

Q: What advice would you give to other aspiring entrepreneurs?

“Don’t tell me who caused the problem. Tell me how to fix it.” Failure is natural in start-ups and I push our team to fail frequently. Fail quickly, accept it and then iterate. A wise mentor once told me 80% of what you are doing is likely wrong. Focus on what works and iterate rapidly.


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