Brooke Corte, a well respected business journalist of 20 years, now host of Money News on Channel Nine Radio interviews our very own Ali Lord last night. Read on to hear them deep dive into circulating views on Australias events industry recovery and how HeadBox can assist in this journey.
Brooke: I’m chatting tonight with Ali Lord from HeadBox. She’s hoping to help drive recovery for the hard-hit events industry here in Australia and is promising to help the industry rebound. HeadBox provides an online marketplace for event organisers to find the most suitable venue for just about any kind of function. Ali Lord grew up at a Queensland Cattle Station and has just returned from a six-year stint in London. She’s heading up the Australian operation at HeadBox. She’s on the line. Ali, welcome.
Ali: Hi, thank you for having me. Great to join you.
Brooke: It’s a great story. HeadBox has just been ranked among the UK Top 10 startups.
Ali: It has, HeadBox crept in at number nine in 2020. Which is a huge accolade for the company, which has now been going since 2015.
Brooke: Which suggests you are kind of a big deal. And you’ve just launched in Brisbane, explain how it all works.
Ali: Yeah, definitely. So we’ve just launched in Brisbane and Sydney. HeadBox is a three sided marketplace, where we bring together corporate and consumer bookers, and connect them with venues to organise events, stripping out the inefficiencies and the mundane processes. Furthermore, we’ve also got an event management team that can actually step in to deliver the events as well. So really adding that support to corporates, especially in a post COVID world where there is potentially reduced headcount or they simply need more support.
Brooke: So why do you think this is the kind of grease in the wheels for the events industry to get it going?
Ali: Because we are in quite a unique position where I’m launching HeadBox in Australia effectively as a startup but with five years of proof in the pudding. We know the product is great and works incredibly well across Europe. And so I bought it back here to my home soil because I was actually HeadBoxs’ first Business client, in London, experiencing the technology first hand seeing the benefits that it gave both sides of the marketplace. Therefore I thought it it was the right time to launch, everyone is looking to really step out of the struggles of COVID and rebound both financially and get back to pre-covid ways of operating and I think we can play a really pivotal role in that.
Brooke: I’m interested that you haven’t launched in Melbourne, just Sydney and Brisbane.
Ali: Melbourne is definitely on the cards, we’re certainly not discounting it. The decision was a conscious one during our pre planning for launch which started back in June last year. We were analysing what was happening with the pandemic, in particular, in Melbourne. So we chose to bring Brisbane’s launch ahead of Melbourne’s because initially it was the other way around. The response we are currently seeing in Brisbane just in the past seven days of having gone live is really positive. People are ready to get back on their feet and start organising events again.
Brooke: Yeah, I’m interested in your read on corporate Australia because you must have a pretty good gauge of the mood with regards to forward planning. A lot of the CEOs this week, who have been speaking at an AFR business summit have mentioned that we have got get moving now, we can’t just be focusing on COVID statistics, we can’t be closing borders. We’ve got to push on now and pretty rapidly. How is that translating to behind closed doors discussions that you might be having across all sectors?
Ali: Yeah, exactly. HeadBox is in a fortunate position where we do work with all sectors, whether that’s finance, media, telecoms, all of them. Tourism Australia produced a very interesting report late last year, where they interviewed large companies with over 500 employee headcount plus, and the response within that was 75% of those businesses, were going to be spending their pre-COVID events budget, if not more, that’s a really, really positive sign for our industry. And having just attended a breakfast last week for International Women’s Day that was very true amongst the room, that people were ready to get back out, engage with clients and also engage with their colleagues. Again, the way of working has changed, but people really do want to get that back to face to face.
Brooke: Interesting. And how does your platform make money?
Ali: We’ve got multiple revenue streams. So we’ve got Software as a Service subscriptions that we have for both corporates and also venues, and in certain scenarios we work on a commission basis. Finally, we’ve also got an event management team. So as I touched on if corporates do want that extra hand, we work as an extension of their team. Due to our suite of products we can effectively adapt to however the corporates want to work with us.
Brooke: Okay, and I want to ask your involved in a tourism roundtable next week, tell us what you know of the conversation that’s going to happen because this is front and centre and very much a national discussion at the moment.
Ali: It is and I’m really pleased to be invited to the roundtable next week with the tourism investment Council. And that was off the back of us launching in Brisbane and them seeing the press coverage. The Tourism Board are wanting to understand how our technology can support them in their different ventures, but also on the flip side, how they can support us. Their primary goal is to see startups like us succeed, which is my primary goal too. So that’s really just to table the conversation of what’s our agenda, what’s our goal, and how can we support one another. It’s also just going to be a really interesting conversation to hear from their perspective, what’s happening in the tourism sector because events and tourism are linked in so many ways.
Brooke: Ali Lord from HeadBox, thank you very much for your time on Money News.
Ali: Thank you so much for having me!
To listen to the podcast you can access it here.