iVvy’s Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Lauren Hall, knows a thing or two about start-ups. After all, she’s built five of them.
Lauren’s work spans industries from pharmaceutical to manufacturing and now technology with award-winning cloud-based event management solution iVvy. Lauren has overcome obstacles including funding and capacity constraints and even personal tragedy in her career as a serial entrepreneur.
Lauren says, “I knew I would be an entrepreneur from the age of nine, when I asked my father for ten dollars to spend at the shops. He refused. In that moment, I knew I would never ask him for another dollar and never allow someone to say no to me. My entrepreneurial fire was sparked.”
From an early start selling cards door-to-door, Lauren went on to take over her father’s company at age 23 following his murder in her home of South Africa. Refining her business savvy and leadership prowess on the job, Lauren later founded iVvy – the world’s first booking engine for the meetings and events industry.
Taking on a male-dominated industry (technology) in a male-dominated business environment (South Africa)
Lauren says she never once wavered. “I knew I had an opportunity to change the world, and that I was solving a global pain point by streamlining the booking process for events. We provided live access to rates, inventory and availability which had never before been digitised. My self-belief and passion for iVvy was stronger than my doubts, and I just never gave up.”
Now the multi-award-winning entrepreneur plans to change not just the world of events, but the perception of female entrepreneurs.
“Only 3% of venture capital funding is invested in women. Only 5% of tech start-ups are owned by women. I will be a catalyst for change and a role model for women. Proving that gender, industry and background are no impediment to success on a global scale.”
Having founded and run five multi-national entities before launching iVvy, Lauren shares her top tips for start-up entrepreneurs:
Solve a global pain point
“Identify a universal problem and resolve it better, faster and more simply than anyone else,” says Lauren. “Conduct research across a range of target audiences to ensure breadth of market adoption and test and measure continually. If the first proof of concept doesn’t gel, refine, recalibrate and keep going.”
Lauren says iVvy is the result of years of industry consultation, coupled with risk-taking innovation and big picture thinking. “You have to think, ‘why not?’ rather than ‘what if?’” says Lauren. “Be prepared to fail fast, keep moving forward and don’t lose sight of your ultimate goal. For us, it was to reduce a frustrating and inefficient booking process from six weeks down to six minutes, and in doing so become the world’s first Global Distribution System for the events industry. Eight years on, and we’re proud to own this market position.”
Be ready to scale
Don’t just plan for your immediate market, says Lauren. Be ready to scale quickly, or opportunity may pass you by. Lauren says her first iteration of the tech platform stalled due to capacity constraints. “Demand completely out-stripped supply, so we had to re-evaluate and reengineer the platform to ensure seamless delivery at scale.”
“We’ve taken our business from ground zero to a multimillion-dollar international company largely through our ability to pivot, innovate and deliver quickly.
“We’ve just launched a world-first partnership with Flight Centre, we launched our Marketplace two years ago with Mantra, Australia’s biggest hotel operator, and we’re in discussions with major industry players internationally to adopt our technology. Being successful as a start-up is one thing. Being able to scale up when it counts is what creates global value.”
Cash (flow) is king
A world-first product and skyrocketing demand mean nothing if cash-flow worries cripple your business. Lauren says, “iVvy operates on a monthly licence fee structure to ensure recurring revenue, and every investment, from resources to marketing to office supplies, is evaluated on a business case basis. We expect maximum return from our budget, and we prioritise client retention and exceptional service which protects both our brand and our future revenue streams.”
Lauren draws on her commercial acumen and expertise in accounting to ensure iVvy’s financial viability but says, “Identify your strong suits. If you’re a creative and numbers are not your thing, invest in expertise to ensure your business is structured for success.”
iVvy is a multi-award-winning event management software solution
iVvy has over 1,000 clients in 13 countries supported by a team of 85 iVvy experts in three international offices. Headquartered on Queensland’s Gold Coast, iVvy launched in the US and UK earlier this year following strong demand from both venues and event organisers.