In the beginning...
When Ivana first envisioned the concept behind what would later become Venopi, she wanted to build a simple and user-friendly platform for users to find venues for events. After experiencing the difficulty of finding a location to shoot a short film firsthand, Ivana was surprised to discover that no platform existed to browse potential venues and compare prices. Convinced that creating a solution for people to easily find locations for any occasion would simplify the process of event planning, Ivana decided to build it herself.
Today, the team at Venopi continues to strive to provide the best possible experience while searching for venues and we are committed to helping users find the ideal location. Our company vision has shifted slightly as we continuously learn from our users and adjust to feedback. When we spoke with fellow entrepreneurs about the struggle of finding an affordable space, we realized that we weren’t alone. Not only that, but the venues we were in contact with communicated that they wanted to make their space available to others when it wasn’t in use.
We began thinking about the possibilities of making use of existing spaces that are not being used and using the platform to not only find available spaces but to also build relationships within the community. Our community of Venopians believe that if anyone has an idea that they are so passionate about that they want to start their own business, a lack of affordable space shouldn’t stop them.
At Venopi, we are creating a marketplace for sharing commercial or non-traditional space. We are currently carrying out a pilot project in Amsterdam and adding venues to create a network of space providers across the city. We want to help support local businesses who want to make their spaces available to rent on a short-term basis and generate additional income, while simultaneously helping to empower emerging businesses find affordable and unique locations to try their idea out.
For example, one of our early adopters is Buurtboerderij, an urban farm in Amsterdam West that employs people with conditions that make it difficult to find employment in traditional workplaces. We connected Isabell, the owner of a Swedish bakery start-up called Umea Bakery, to the kitchen and now she can bake in a commercial oven instead of using her oven at home where it can take several hours to produce a small order of delicious cinnamon, vanilla, and cardamom buns. Once a week, she bakes enough buns to sell in the café at the farm as well as for her private orders, increasing productivity and enabling her to fulfill larger orders without having to have her own space. Instead, she can book the space as she needs it.
What sets us apart?
What differentiates us from other space sharing platforms is that we believe in the importance of cultivating a relationship with our partners and users. We know that building strong relationships is key to our success and will help us to sustain, scale, and grow as we connect people to places through community-building.
We are tapping into a shadow market, an economy of sharing space that has primarily been done through word of mouth, up until now. We want to use technology to digitize current forms of sharing space and introduce a new, simple, and easy to use website for finding spaces, some you wouldn’t know that you could even rent. This way users can have more information available to them through our transparent platform. Part of the challenge of entering a market that has previously only existed in the shadows is that we are effectively introducing the idea of sharing spaces to venue providers that might not have rented it out before. Often the first question we hear after we pitch the idea to potential partners is: so, how does it work?
How does it work?
This is how it works. Say a venue chooses to join Venopi and list their space on our platform. We offer professional photography services and we can come to your place to take amazing photos displaying the space. The photos are added to a listing on our platform where a description of the space can be found with any house rules. The photos are also featured on a blog post highlighting recently added venue on our site. In addition, we provide each venue with an A4 poster about renting their space so that people visiting the location will know it is available (conveniently with a scannable QR code to the booking page). Each venue also gets a sticker to display in their window. Once your listing is live, users can submit a request to rent your space providing the details for what they have in mind.
In the past, we have helped the Amsterdam Flower School find a space to organize their introductory workshops and event masterclasses teaching the craft of floral arrangement to creative students. We matched them with Mediamatic, where there was an outdoor aquaponic greenhouse ideal for creating natural and organic displays. We helped an event organizer find a location for a TEDx talk on neurobiology and how technology is shaping the way we think. We pair unused and closed kitchens with aspiring food producers.
As you might have gathered, we’ve been busy at Venopi lately. You might also be curious to hear about what is coming up next and we are excited to tell you that Ivana, founder and CEO of Venopi, is speaking on stage at the TEDx Amsterdam Women Start Up Award finals on December 6. Competing against the two finalists, we will deliver a speech on stage at the Royal Tropical Institute for the prize. We are excited to have the opportunity to share our vision for connecting people to places in meaningful ways with members of the community.