This Female Founder Friday I am elated to introduce you to Ellie Thompson. She is the woman entrepreneur who founded Venyou. Ellie comes from a finance background and is one smart cookie. I loved meeting her and learning how she transitioned from working for J.P. Morgan to launching a startup that is disrupting the traditional venue market.
You know I love stories of women seeing a problem or gap in the market and then building a company as a response. This is one of those stories! Ellie looked at all of the homes in her DC neighborhood that were empty several months of the year as owners traveled. She started thinking about ways those houses could be monetized and had the idea for her startup. Venyou is a platform that creates curated events through the use of historic and residential spaces. They partner with event planners, homeowners, and hosts to create a beautiful space for meetings, weddings, or corporate retreats. They are currently based in DC but actively expanding to NYC and Chicago.
If you have an idea on how to solve a problem or creatively use resources to make money, Ellie’s answers to my questions below are particularly pertinent. Remember, you do not have to build a company in the industry you have worked in. You can take your knowledge and skill set and apply them to the idea that excites you!
What inspired you to create your company?
Venyou was created purely out of frustration. When planning a holiday party last year I realized there was no in between from a loud bar or restaurant to a massive hotel venue. There was a gap in the market for an intimate, personalized setting. I knew there could be a better solution and with the advent of the sharing economy, that solution was having events in homes. Thus, Venyou was born.
What was your biggest obstacle and failure in going from idea to business?
Our original business model involved featuring homes that were for sale and using these empty spaces for events. Our hypothesis was that this created a win-win situation for all parties: clients received unique event space, homeowners received revenue on their vacant homes, and real estate agents received publicity on their properties. My biggest obstacle was testing this hypothesis. Assumptions had to be made and unfortunately, assumptions can kill a business from the start. After testing our hypothesis, it became clear that we needed to change our model. Pivoting is hard but sometimes necessary.
Growth, growth, and more growth! We are growing always in all ways. In a marketplace, supply is always king. We want to have the best, most coveted homes for events on our platform.
Please share your best piece of advice for aspiring female founders.
My best advice for aspiring female founders is to execute. As women, we typically get caught up in the details and perfection of a product/service instead of just getting it out there! There is a lot to say for Nike’s slogan and why it has endured. Just doing it will take you further than just dreaming it.
If you had a theme song what would it be?
“Bright Side of the Road,” by Van Morrison. I strongly believe in the power of positivity and aim to make my friends, family, and clients’ day a little brighter.