Kelsey Recht – CEO and Founder of VenueBook

[quote style=”boxed”]”Don’t tell me who caused the problem. Tell me how to fix it.” Failure is natural in start-ups and I push our team to fail frequently. Fail quickly, accept it and then iterate. A wise mentor once told me 80% of what you are doing is likely wrong. Focus on what works and iterate rapidly.[/quote]

Kelsey Recht, CEO and Founder of VenueBook, had her “Ah Ha” moment when she was planning small fundraisers and alumni events as the “accidental planner”. After struggling to find venues for those events, she took matters into her own hands. She left the world of finance for the start-up world to bring the concept she had in mind to life –VenueBook – a tool to take the pain out of the event planning process. Kelsey eats, breathes and lives events in NYC and can be found out almost any night of the week. Kelsey earned her MBA from The Kellogg School of Management and a BA from Williams College.

VenueBook is a complimentary, online event planning platform that matches event planners with New York City venues that meet their customized needs. VenueBook’s new technology simplifies and streamlines the event booking process for both organizers and venues by allowing users to search venues based on specific criteria, and venues to list their space to vet new leads and manage all their events on VenueBook’s cloud-based software program.

What are you working on right now?

We are building the first end-to-end online platform for finding, booking and managing event spaces. Our analogy (because every start-up has one) is OpenTable for events.

Where did the idea for VenueBook come from?

A few years ago I was planning multiple events and had the “there must be better way to do this” moment. However, I didn’t stop there. I knew I didn’t have the tech or venue knowledge, so I went out and found it. Our CTO has planned multiple events and we designed our two-sided system with the help of an advisor that has run in-house events for NYC-based restaurants for years.

What does your typical day look like?

I am a big fan of the Four-Hour Work Week. I don’t live it but what it teaches you is to compartmentalize your time. I spend the morning with our amazing team getting them up and running for the day. I then focus my afternoon on working with venues and corporate planners on training, sales, and marketing. Evenings are left for clearing out my inbox.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Iterate, iterate, iterate. Before we spend tech resources on a developing a system, we try to test it on a small basis first. Our team tries to test out hypotheses with “quick small fixes” before we make “large changes”.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

B2B2C and SKUization of services. Our system falls into both larger trends. Our platform is designed to help both corporations manage, track & streamline their events and venues run their event business. We also have average consumers that use our system too. I also am loving the ankle boots in the fashion magazines right now.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

I worked at Baker’s Square at the cash register one summer. It took me one day to master the cash register, so needless to say it was not an exciting summer. I did get to take home free pie often though. Yum!

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

Learn how to code in college or start a tech company with a developer already on board.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Speak to your customers on a regular basis but be mindful of the bigger picture. Customers might tell you they want to get around faster. However, they wouldn’t have asked you for a car, they would have asked you for a faster horse.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I built a small prototype with an outsourced development team. It was horrible. However, I fixed that quickly when within three days I hired a CTO that I had only just met but knew was right, threw away my whole prototype and then never looked back. See above for what I would do over.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Rent a puppy.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?

This one is really tough. I would eradicate hunger by pushing for self sufficiency through such organizations as The One Acre Fund. The One Acre Fund teaches farmers in Africa how to increase their yield from their crops.

Tell us a secret.

My middle name is Carlyon. No that is not Carolyn. It is pronounced Car-Lion. I use to hate it, but now I embrace it. Roar.

What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?

  • Evernote – As a founder you multi-task a lot. Evernote helps keep me organized.
  • SilverlightSilverlight records a video of your users and where they are clicking on your site. It is great to find choke points.
  • – It’s a throughput engine for your mini-breaks. Ok I lied. It is just pictures of cute puppies.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Getting Things Done aka GTD by David Allen. You always have too much to do at a start-up. Role up your sleeves, prioritize and GTD. Don’t become paralyzed waiting for perfection.

Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?

Mark Suster for tech and VC related musings.

New York Nightlife for gossip on nightlife in NYC.

Wall Street Journal to ensure you read real news every day. There is more to life than tech and nightlife gossip.

When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?

I re-watched Gangnam Style the other day. It never gets old. As an event tech company – RockinGangnam Style is a great addition to any event playlist.

Who is your hero?

My grandfather was an entrepreneur. You couldn’t be around him without learning about the right way to treat people. Also, his former company is supplying all of the glass for the Freedom Tower. It reminds me that as an entrepreneur your legacy lives on.

What is a quote you live by?

“Don’t tell me who caused the problem. Tell me how to fix it.” Failure is natural in start-ups and I push our team to fail frequently. Fail quickly, accept it and then iterate. A wise mentor once told me 80% of what you are doing is likely wrong. Focus on what works and iterate rapidly.

What is your favorite hobby?

See my third favorite tool online: If I didn’t live in NYC, I would have a dog. A giant golden retriever.


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