CEO Corner: 5 Things We Learned in Our First 4 Years

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As we approach the HeadBox fourth birthday party this month, I’ve been reflecting on everything we’ve learned on our journey so far.

We’ve certainly made a few mistakes along the way, but we’ve also learned some valuable lessons we’ll take into our fifth year and beyond. 

Here are five key lessons I’ve learned over these last four years which I think have played a huge part in the successes we’ve seen.

Understanding Your Customer

Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, says “wake up every morning and be afraid. Be terrified. Not of your competitors but of your customers”. I am afraid. Our customers are the only reason why HeadBox exists; they have made our business. 

We conduct regular user interviews, both with Guests and Hosts, to understand what the friction points are, to challenge our assumptions and find out how well we’re doing. We also use Net Promoter Surveys (NPS) to gauge quickly and frequently how happy our users are.

It’s by focusing on understanding customer needs and solving their problems, being utterly obsessed with our customers, that HeadBox will continue to innovate, create value and change this industry for the better.

Be Agile and Adaptable

Being obsessed with our customers and understanding their problems has had a huge impact on the direction of our business. HeadBox started life as an e-commerce platform to help individual bookers search, book and pay for venues in minutes for the first time ever. 

This worked well for events up to £10K. But we quickly realised that there were a whole range of needs that existed at a company level and that if we addressed those then we could create even more value for our customers. So we launched HeadBox Business our strategic meetings and event management software to help corporates manage, track and control their entire annual events programme. 

 By the end of this year, we will have 24 major UK corporates mandating HeadBox Business for their meeting, offsites and events worth over £50 million.

HeadBox Business has become a core part of the HeadBox software ecosystem. Without getting to know our customers, we may never have known that companies needed such a solution and HeadBox today would look very different.

Team Expertise

As a small business, your first hires are essential to your success. You need a team around you that you can trust to help you turn your vision into a reality. As a leader, one of my key focus areas has been attracting the best talent with the right expertise and values into my team. 

In the early stages, you might decide to outsource some parts of your business or outsource your tech development function while you get your business off the ground. But when you hire those experts in house it makes a huge difference.

Defining Market Size

In 2019 we were successful in a £4 million fundraise, taking our total investment to £8.2 million. What I’ve learned from pitching in front of VCs is that defining your market opportunity is critical.

This must be a credible calculation if it’s going to hold any muster with potential investors. It should include your total addressable market (the total demand for your product or service), your serviceable addressable market (the segment of your TAM that could use your product and is within your geographical reach ), and your obtainable addressable market (the portion you can realistically capture). 

The most important thing to remember is that you need to be methodical in how you calculate this, but you also need to be bold. If you are not thinking aggressively enough, you might miss your opportunity.

Living Your Values

One of the most valuable things we’ve done in the last year is to formalise our brand values. We’ve been hiring against our brand values since the beginning, but we never formally baked this into the stories that we use day-to-day. 

Now, everyone at HeadBox is reviewed against our brand values in their role. Every week we celebrate one HeadBoxer who has gone above and beyond for the business displaying one of our values. 

Hiring a team that has similar core values at their heart helps us to pull together as a team, and drive the business towards our key goals. 

There are a few moments along this four-year journey where in hindsight we might have taken a different approach. 

But without making mistakes we can’t learn. The most important thing is how we have shared what we’ve learnt as a team and then taken action on those learnings as quickly as possible.

As we approach our fourth birthday and our launch in the Netherlands there will be new things to learn that we can apply to other markets. So watch this space.

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