Have you ever tried to book an event space online? It’s hard. Finding an impressive, unique venue that doesn’t feel like a YMCA conference room often requires personal connections or the help of a professional.
Just Googling “event spaces” brings up a load of miserable options. The best one that I found looks like this. And when I flip through the pages of Vogue magazine and see these beautiful fashion spreads, or check out photos of an unbelievable party space on Instagram or a fabulous wedding setting on Facebook, I always wonder- where do people find these awesome venues?
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We are living in the dawn of the sharing economy with companies like Airbnb, GetAround and even Craigslist lighting the way. We are also living in an economy where empty, multi-million dollar homes are sitting unsold and unwanted in the valleys and hills of Los Angeles.
A brand new LA-based startup called Eventup launches today, which many will undoubtedly call the “Airbnb for Event Spaces.” And just like Wanderfly, Tripadvisor, Kayak and Hipmunk took out travel agencies, Eventup wants to shake things up in the $263 billion dollar event-planning industry.
On Eventup’s marketplace, you’ll be able to book Eric Clapton’s former home, Jim Morrison’s old house and The Bachelor’s Pad in Malibu as well as other impressive venues like restaurants, art galleries, bars and individual’s homes. These are definitely the type of unique venues that would typically require paying an event planner to book, making it a great deal for people looking to rent out their space, and saving consumers time and money finding a location.
You can even rent Vinny Chases’ house from Entourage (below) for just $3,000 a day to hold an event. That is pretty much a reason to throw a party in my book.
“Owners and realtors are really excited,” says Eventup’s founder and CEO Tony Adam. “They’re like ‘Yeah, I’d love it if you could take my awesome, modern house in Hollywood Hills and throw a big party there.”
Sure, this laid-back, sharing with strangers attitude may frighten you. But first, think about how much more we can find out about each other today: We now have Facebook, Google+ and other social layers wrapped around our online identities, which should make the world at least a little bit less scary.
At its core, Eventup is helping folks monetize their underutilized assets. And for the multi-million dollar estate owners, who’ve become house poor in the recent economic downturn, $5,000+ in your pocket is worth a Saturday sublet.
Eventup is the first of 6 companies to launch out of Science Inc., the Santa Monica based technology studio we covered in detail this past weekend. Founder Tony Adam previously worked with two Science Inc. execs– Mike Jones (at MySpace) and Peter Pham (at BillShrink).
“Tony Adams worked for me and Peter for years. He’s a leader in the social web, particularly SEO, and knows how to build solid web apps. He started zeroing in on the fact that if you want to throw a party, a fundraiser or wedding and want to see all the places locally where you can do that, it’s difficult to find a solid directory. When he started exploring the concept and talking to property owners and real estate companies, the response was incredible.”
–Science Inc. CEO Mike Jones, an investor in the company.
After just 3 months of building the product with 5 employees, Eventup launches today with 350 venues in Los Angeles, California. Eventup’s booking platform comes with a clean, sharp search functionality that lets you browse by location, filter by date and book the venue. If you use Airbnb, you’ll find Eventup’s layout quite similar, including being able to read users’ ratings and reviews.
Starting today, people will be able to list their own venues nationwide from New York City to Hawaii, but certain booking functionalities will only be available in LA for the time being. (Eventup will roll out city-by-city throughout 2012.) For a 10% deposit (fully refundable), you can book walk-throughs of any of the venues.
Speaking of deposits– Eventup manages all financial transactions and bookings through the site, and will also offer insurance for both users and venue owners. Eventup says its customer support care is available 24/7 to answer questions from both venue listers and booking guests to make the event planning process more efficient.
Its location being Los Angeles, Eventup will naturally offer celebrity experiences on top of venue bookings. The site has partnered with celebrities like Lisa D’Amato, a winner of America’s Next Top Model, and Marcel Vigneron (pictured below), a former contestant on Bravo’s Top Chef, to create packaged party experiences. So, users can book a dinner party at a private home where Marcel cooks and teaches guests culinary techniques, or host a bachelorette party where Lisa teaches them how to walk the runway.
This is just the tip of the sphere for Eventup. Finding a venue is the first step, but the startup plans to grow into everything else that wraps around event planning from DJs to floral arrangements to Port a Potty rentals. If Eventup takes off, it could be the single online destination for all of your event planning needs. And that is a reason to celebrate.
So what’s it like launching a startup in the City of Angels? “I think it’s an amazing time to be an entrepreneur in LA,” says Adam. “The addition of Science Inc. brings an added infrastructure, and there’s a hunger here again… The energy is great.”
Eventup is fully-funded by Science Inc. to date and will be heads down and laser focused on consumer experience before raising external funding later this year.