From weddings, to birthdays, baby showers, graduations, work promotions and everything else in between, life is full of special moments and occasions that literally call for celebration or commemoration. For most people, there is hardly any pleasure in the planning of these joyous events celebrating our happy moments. Many who have been charged with doing so readily agree that event planning of any size presents a myriad of challenges, some of which could lead to embarrassing and even catastrophic hiccups.
“Worry-no-more” is the guarantee from the team at Eventurnup. Eventurnup, founded by Innocent Wamey, is a revolutionary platform that is bringing together event planners and service providers – from event halls, to DJs, photographers, catering services, limo services, etc. – all, in one place. The company’s core differentiator is its focus on the solution, and insistence on a thriving ecosystem that simplifies matchmaking between clients and service providers through the use of technology.
The founder has the backing of over 17 years of experience in the telecommunications industry holding engineering and leadership positions at Cisco Systems, AT&T, ADVA Networks and Hitachi Telecom. Mr Innocent Wamey also has extensive experience in technology and startups as founder of VipSocio, Carbon Black App and now Eventurnup. His educational background includes a B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering from Virginia Tech and an MBA from the J. Mack Robinson College at Georgia State University.
I was intrigued to find out more from this Atlanta-based entrepreneur about his innovative key to smooth sailing events…
DUNIA Magazine: How did the idea of Eventurnup come about? And why the name?
Innocent Wamey: I have always had a great admiration of simple solutions that meet customers at the pain points. Eventurnup.com came up from that belief. My wife Sylvie and I have owned and operated a small family business banquet hall for over 5 years.
As we worked to grow this business there were some real pain points that were extremely challenging at the outset. When we entered the Wedding and Events business, I spent a disproportionate amount of time trying to raise awareness of the business and finding qualified leads to help us grow the business. After analyzing the financial statements, I noticed that more than 40% of our expenditure was spent on marketing and customer acquisition. To mitigate this challenge and increase profitability I had to develop an in-house competency on digital and social marketing to make up for what I perceived to be a lack of solution providers that matched the size of my business.
I also noticed that most of my clients hardly enjoyed their events because they had to scramble to manage a lot of moving parts and ended up being miserable hosts. These challenges were never unique to me as a business or to clients who ran themselves ragged to make sure their guests had a great time. The idea of Eventurnup.com came to me naturally as a platform to help similar businesses and clients meet in the middle and eliminate the challenges they each faced. I wanted my clients to have an “Event” and “Turn Up” as happy hosts and I also wanted to enjoy providing services to them and not be stressed out about my profitability or ability to serve them.
The name, Eventurnup, is a play of words around the solution that we offer. What if the host of an event could reach banquet halls, caterers, Limo services, entertainers, DJs, security services etc. in a few basic steps instead of making multiple calls and sending multiple emails? What if the sought-after service providers did not have to worry about finding or marketing themselves to these customers? That is the genius of the Eventurnup portal coupled with advanced technological tools that provide not only the ability to connect customers to service providers but connecting them to the right ones.
Everybody deserves a Premium experience and we want you to have an event, turn up, and enjoy like you should.
What have you and your team been able to accomplish since starting?
Innocent Wamey: The most difficult aspect of starting a business is staying honest to the vision and remaining resilient to the inevitable marketplace challenges. Our biggest accomplishment as a team has been to continue to be bold and fearless in our quest to penetrate the market and become the market leader through innovative solutions that benefit users of our platform.
I always made it a point to surround or acquaint myself with the best talent and I truly believe that we have a genius team. Our lead software developer, Fru Chifen, is one of the best software architects out there and he shared my vision from the outset. We had fun working on the prototype full time for over 2 months while maintaining our corporate jobs to eventually release a beta into the marketplace. Our development team has grown tremendously since then.
For strategy, marketing and sales, I turned to my school mate and childhood friend in California, Ben Tubuo. He did not need any convincing and he has been instrumental in driving market penetration and the feel of the solution to users of the portal. We have grand plans as a team and have been incredibly successful to date on a narrow market focus and in-house technologies.
Today, the Eventurnup portal has over 2000 wedding and event venues and vendors in Georgia and continues to grow rapidly. We have generated more than $1,000,000 in revenue for our partners in the last 6 months. We have developed technology and algorithms that have enabled us to become a preferred partner for our service providers and attract customers to our portal. Above all, we have raised awareness and continue to score highly with our clients on all metrics we use to measure the value we deliver and customer satisfaction.
How exactly does Eventurnup work? What makes it different or unique from other companies that are based on a similar concept?
Innocent Wamey: Eventurnup is a Georgia only premium lead generation business. We utilize location based technology and algorithms on our customer facing portal to match service requests by market area to service providers that are listed on our portal.
Our portal works in 3 easy steps:
- Customers fill out information about desired services for a Wedding or Event
- Eventurnup uses our smart online search tools to identify service providers in the customer’s desired geographical area
- Eventurnup shares leads with service providers identified by our online search algorithm.
Our focus today is strictly on quality lead generation so our partners (Event Venues, Caterers, Photographers, DJs and Event Planners) can focus on what they do best: providing services to our collective clients.
Starting out as a small business we understand the challenges of growing a business and want to enable our service partners to rely on us for the items that are not core to their business. With our digital marketing expertise, we are very well positioned to help our vendors with visibility online. The cost of visibility and customer acquisition at this day and age is extremely high and is driving a lot of small businesses to shut down their doors. The optimal approach to enhance the ecosystem is to enable our vendor partners the freedom to concentrate on their core competencies by helping them reduce unrelated costs so they can pass these benefits to our collective clients and focus on delivering unmatched quality through their services. For the clients that use our portal to reach service providers, we want the experience to be relevant, simple and effective. Our focus is on a healthy ecosystem and customer satisfaction. We believe that once we establish clear connections between key sustainers in the ecosystem our growth will sustain.
As a business owner, what obstacles have you faced and how did you overcome them?
Innocent Wamey: We faced the usual challenges of putting together a scalable business – – finance, technology, operations, marketing and sales. The first step to overcoming these challenges is obviously to build a solid team of leaders around each of these core areas. It has been difficult to find the right talent and to have our vision for the company aligned with marketplace realities but we have been fortunate at Eventurnup in this regard. We have a great leadership team that understands the core focus and vision of the business and are able to execute.
Finance is critical because projections tend to always be off regardless of how generous your assumptions are. I am glad that so far, we have been able to fund this effort organically and also attract some interested investors whose funds we have not had to use. However, in order to scale, we will be looking to tap into some financing and partnerships that align with our strategic vision for the business.
Awareness and branding has also been challenging with the industry being so competitive. Our SEO, social media marketing and digital marketing teams have done a great job so far. They will have to remain on the cutting edge of technology to maintain this presence online.
There is also the challenge of growing our vendor base of quality service providers to meet clients’ needs. However, our sales team is very capable and expanding. Overall, I am grateful for some of the challenges because they have forced us to find and create economic value for our stakeholders quicker than we would have if we did not run into them.
Many new start-ups go under or stall within the first few years, how will you ensure Eventurnup stands the test of time? Where do you see your company in 5 years?
Innocent Wamey: Our industry (Weddings and Events) is obviously tough and highly competitive. The key is to continue to provide products and services that add value to our stakeholders and make their lives a little easier. As long as EventurnUp continues to be a valuable solution, stay on the cutting edge of technology and keep the Eventurnup portal simple, portable and user friendly we will be fine.
Our goal is to become the market leader and our focus is to be the number one wedding and events destination online. We are confident that in 12 months we will be the market leader in GA. We have strategic goals and a 5-year road map but like I mentioned previously we listen to our customers and the market not the other way around. We want all participants in our ecosystem to have a premium experience at a non-premium price. We want to eliminate the stress of hosting events by connecting clients to appropriate service providers. We want our members to “TurnUp” for their “Events” in style.
Who is your ideal client, and what would you like to say to them in closing?
Innocent Wamey: People come to Eventurnup.com for several reasons – to find listed partners/service providers, to request quotes, to read our blog or in some cases to snoop around and check out our solutions. I cannot emphasize enough how trenchantly obsessive we are about making sure our solutions meet our partners and clients in their respective areas of need. Whether it is a wedding ceremony, a wedding reception, a bridal shower, a birthday, a bachelor party, a graduation, a Quinceanera, a baby shower, a wine tasting event, a corporate event or what have you, each client is handled with the same care. EventurnUp is a business and as cliché as it sounds, our ideal client is a happy client or service provider. I like to thank them for trusting us with their business and let our clients know that we sincerely want to continue to earn your business and want to be held accountable if we ever fail or deviate from that.