Whether it’s a wedding, birthday or business launch party, organising well-staged events is not for the faint-hearted. Those who have a flair for the job know that all components must come together seamlessly, because attending a disorganised event and witnessing hosts running around looking flustered isn’t fun for anybody. In an effort to make organising an event less painful and bring cringe-worthy events to an end, two Sydney-based entrepreneurs Sanjay Sundarjee and Ben Pecotich decided to create a service that enables organisers to find, book and pay for event products and services under one digital umbrella, EventMojo.
Chances are event organisers are using search engines as their primary mode of discovery, whether they’re seeking an appropriate venue or the services of a caterer, photographer or DJ. This means that organisers have to sift through the clutter of the web to find relevant and reliable suppliers. Then there are suppliers who, despite being excellent at their jobs, aren’t taking advantage of technology to market themselves to the masses.
Launched in August this year, EventMojo strives to be an all-encompassing event organisation platform, bringing order to long-standing chaos. It was built on the philosophy that organising an event should be fun and easy.
“When we founded EventMojo, we wondered why it was so hard to find the right event supplier. Why do you have to go through so many sites to search for venues, catering and other services? So many times you end up relying on your gut feeling to decide if a business is reliable and are going to provide the quality service you expect,” says Sundarjee, co-founder and CEO of EventMojo.
Not only does EventMojo strive to alleviate the pain-points experienced by event organisers, it also wants to be platform for suppliers who may not have a high marketing budget to become easily discoverable.
“We built this company because we wanted to help the creative florists, the talented photographers and all the other good quality event suppliers grow their business in an online, safe and secure marketplace,” says Pecotich, co-founder and CTO of EventMojo.
EventMojo understands the importance of trust between event organisers and event suppliers, and encourages event organisers to share their experiences through a review system. This way, event suppliers can build their online reputations and event organisers can make informed decisions when choosing a supplier.
EventMojo facilitates all transactions and offers customer support to ensure the process of using EventMojo is easy and secure and problems are addressed. EventMojo is free to use for event organisers, and suppliers are only required to pay a 3.5 percent transaction fee for any sale made through the site.
December 2013 marks the humble beginnings of EventMojo when co-founders Sundarjee and Pecotich began researching the events industry and speaking to stakeholders to identify gaps and opportunities. The initial idea for such a service was inspired by their own frustrating experiences when organising events.
“Whenever we tried to organise events – whether it was in our jobs, school formals, getting married, our kids’ or parents’ birthdays – we always had trouble finding good event suppliers. We became stuck choosing from a small number of suppliers who had testimonials on their websites that we didn’t know if we should trust,” says Sundarjee.
“And it wasn’t just us. Many of our friends and other people we spoke to had the same issues. A friend recounted a horror story of her wedding day when the flowers that arrived were all dead! We knew there were good event suppliers out there, they just couldn’t be found easily!”
Early this year, the duo raised seed funding and began development. A ‘connector’ marketplace like EventMojo, however, isn’t an entirely original concept. The founders are cognisant of the fact that there are competitors in the market, but feel that they could improve on what’s already out there.
Sundarjee acknowledges that Melbourne-based startup Venuemob has experienced significant success, particularly in the past year, and has been backed by Optus; but Venuemob, as its name suggests, focuses on venues.
“From my experience in planning events, there’s often more services that need to be booked than just a venue – for example for a wedding, couples will also need flowers, a wedding car, a wedding celebrant, a band and many other things. The same applies to business events and birthdays. EventMojo differentiates from Venuemob by enabling users to find and book everything that they need for their event from one place,” says Sundarjee.
A much closer competitor is Sydney-based Eventbirdie, founded by Rebecca Hunt who has an established reputation in the events industry. Sundarjee believes, however, that EventMojo is different in that it allows suppliers to add their products and services to their profiles. For instance, when an event organiser is viewing the profile page for a caterer, they will see caterer’s different menus and gauge their expertise and see what’s possible. Sundarjee believes this saves time because organisers don’t need to request more information from suppliers.
“We’ve also started building a community to really get event organisers and suppliers engaging with each other with things such as Getting To Know interviews and suppliers contributing articles. Soon event organisers will be able to book and pay online through EventMojo, which will differentiate us from our competitors even more,” Sundarjee adds.
EventMojo has signed up over 200 event organisers from a variety of organisations including household brands, sporting teams, universities, banks and government agencies. At the moment, there are just over 100 suppliers using EventMojo and the startup plans on doubling this number by April 2015. To get these initial suppliers on board, EventMojo approached reputable suppliers that they or their family and friends already knew. They also targeted suppliers that offered a unique service that would be easily marketable and garner a lot of attention.
Organisers can n now book musicians like Guy Sebastian, sports stars like Andrew Johns to give motivational talks, hire a $1 million Lamborghini or helicopter for a wedding, and caterers mentored by the likes of Neil Perry.
“When we tell people that they can book that sort of stuff on EventMojo, their eyes light up and they’ll say ‘Wow, you can do that?’ That really makes us proud!”
At the moment, the startup is targeting business events, which generates $12.3 billion in annual revenues in Australia and weddings, which generates $4 billion in revenue. Some of the smaller targeted markets include birthdays and school formals. In three to five years time, EventMojo wants at least 2 percent of those revenues transacted through EventMojo. Given the market size of the events industry in other countries like the US and UK are much larger, the founders have their sights set on international expansion.
A few months ago, at the business events exhibition Inspire EX which gathered 4,000 event organisers in the corporate sector, EventMojo was able to sign up most of its consumer user base. Through articles and guides, the startup is continuing to engage that market. Social media channels like Facebook and Twitter are being used primarily for weddings, with Instagram and Pinterest being adopted more recently.
“It really is amazing some of the reach that you can have through some great content with the right hashtags!” says Sundarjee.
He insists that EventMojo is more than a marketplace for purchasing event products and services; it’s a community.
The biggest challenges for the founders to date have been maintaining focus and prioritising how they use their limited resources.
“Because research, testing and monitoring our analytics are core to the way we work, we try not to be too fixed in our plans to allow us to respond to what we learn and iterate quickly. This can be a challenge because we have our vision and ambitions and we want EventMojo to be the perfect product and experience right now!” says Sundarjee.
“We’re learning to get more comfortable with the reality there will always be so many more things we want to be doing than we are or can today. It keeps the future very exciting!”
Some key things in EventMojo’s roadmap include online bookings and payments, as well as tools to make planning events and comparing suppliers easier. Soon, EventMojo will be implementing a way for community members to request and vote on features they’d like to see introduced. The founders will use this to determine what their priorities should be. In the coming months, the Sydney-based startup will start actively expanding into other locations in Australia.
Image (L to R): Sanjay Sundarjee & Ben Pecotich, Co-Founders of EventMojo. Source: Provided.