Parents know best, right?
In Alexis Neal’s case, her father was certainly on to something.
Neal, a seasoned event planner, had grown accustomed to fielding frequent requests regarding “cool venue spots” from large companies looking to host a memorable SXSW event.
After connecting startups and corporations with hot spots around town as a favor, Neal’s father suggested she could make a buck or two off the service. Following his advice, Neal launched EventSpace in 2015 during SXSW.
“EventSpace was more of a scouting business at first, which was very laborious,” said Neal. “I found myself doing the one thing I actually hated while I was an event planner in trying to learn more about the new spaces available.”
But it was also during this time that Neal said she discovered her true calling: discovering hidden gems — those spaces that aren’t as obvious to the eye — like parking garages, underground lots and abandoned commercial spaces.
“To be able to provide venue options beyond what actually exists is where I found my passion,” said Neal.
So Neal recruited a small team of developers to create a platform that channeled Airbnb, but for event venues.
We’re streamlining the overall process for getting an event booked."
“Our platform answers the three most-asked questions in event planning: capacity, availability and budget,” Neal said. “We’re working to drive venues strong leads. There are so many phone calls that go: ‘Hi, are you available on this date,’ and the venue manager says, ‘No,’ and the caller hangs up without any further discussion.”
By filtering out venues that fail to meet the requirements of all three questions, Neal said both venue seekers and site managers can book events faster.
“We’re streamlining the overall process for getting an event booked,” said Neal. “From the initial point of contact, to signing contracts and getting payments — this is normally a process that can take two months.”
Neal compared EventSpace’s backend operations to that of the restaurant-reservation app OpenTable, giving venue managers the ability to manage the entire venue reservation process online. The site’s functions will also allow venue managers to maintain their own profile pages, update calendar vacancies and respond to incoming messages.
“We call ourselves the matchmaker of event planners and venue managers,” said Neal.
Initially, EventSpace will focus solely on the Austin market, launching a string of events slotted for this week to the get word out about the platform going live.
“I’ve thrown so many launch parties that this has to be the launch parties of all launch parties,” said Neal.
From Feb. 21 to Feb. 25, Neal said the team is hosting popup events geared toward the industry, featuring events like panel discussions, a bridal open house, professional speed dating, a mixology mixoff and more.
And while you won’t see any EventSpace-specific branded parties at SXSW this year, Neal said the company helped book 27 parties throughout town.
“SXSW — it’s our jam,” said Neal.