Diary of a start-up: Focusing on the right percentages when building market share

Following some wise words from a board member, this month our diarist is focused on growing not just his business but the events sector as a whole

Andrew Needham, founder and CEO of creative meeting and venue space booking platform HeadBox, is our regular Diary of a start-up blogger. Last month he shared his sales strategy as a new business. In today’s post, Needham discusses why it’s all about taking a large share of a large market. Who wants a big slice of a very small pie?

At our recent February board meeting, Martin McCourt – who is the former CEO of Dyson – shared a story with me while we were discussing the importance of market share.

It’s not just about growing your market share but the market itself

In the early eighties he was part of a revolution in the battery market, as the newly formed Duracell tackled a serious bit of giant slaying by entering an industry that was dominated at the time by Ever Ready. The Duracell battery employed an alkaline manganese chemistry which considerably out performed the zinc carbon chemistry favoured by Ever Ready and other competitors.

“Not too long after arriving on the scene, some of the Duracell sales people became very excited that they had achieved 90% share of the long life battery market”, Martin told me. “But at the time this hardly existed; it was only about 3 or 4% of the total market. Much more impressive was when sales of long life batteries grew to almost 50% share of all batteries sold in the UK, and Duracell held a 75% share of this segment. This gave them over a third of the total market […] now that was something to shout about!!”.

It was a great story as we focus not just on building our market share but on growing the overall events market. As the first online marketplace in the UK that allows guests to instantly book and pay for creative, inspiring and offsite spaces, all in one place, we’re doing something quite disruptive. It was also very relevant in terms of a number of the things I have been doing this month to build HeadBox’s global universe.

Most of them have involved getting HeadBox in front of our potential customers in the following three ways.

Real-time marketing

We launched our #BrilliantSpaces campaign across LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and have been monitoring the performance of this each week so that we can understand what creative ad copy across the different channels has been working best against the needs of our core target audiences.

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We want to learn on a daily and weekly basis what our customers are saying and how they are responding to our advertising so that our website traffic, enquiries and bookings continue to grow. By being adaptive and responding quickly both in terms of marketing and in terms of product performance we have been able to double our growth month on month.

Building a sense of community

Another important area of focus has been engaging our customers directly and building a sense of community. This month we have already held four of our own events in some of our amazing spaces where we are able to speak directly with guests and potential guests, getting valuable feedback but also inspiring them to spread the word about HeadBox.

As Paul Graham, founder of Y Combinator said: “Build something that a 100 people love rather than a million people kind of like”. Our mission at HeadBox is to bring people and spaces together to make brilliant things happen, everywhere, so the people who book the spaces, our guests and the people who own the spaces are very important to us.

Getting on the soapbox!

The other area I have been working on this month is preparing to get on my soapbox. I want to get out there to share our learnings about what the collaborative and sharing economy is doing and is going to do to disrupt the events and meetings industry and the exciting role that we want HeadBox to play in this transformation.

Last week I was on the panel “Events Interrupted” at Confex Conference in the Keynote Theatre, Olympia Grand and then was speaking at the PA Show in the Essentials Theatre. There were 2,000 PAs and EAs there so it was a great way for me to engage our audiences on a bigger scale about HeadBox and what we’re doing.

Finally, now that we have the largest number and variety of spaces in London and are continuing to grow our under-utilised inventory of spaces at a rapid rate, customers are asking us to expand into other major cities around the UK. In terms of growing our market share this is inevitable so watch this space!

To follow HeadBox’s journey (and for content from previous diary bloggers), check out our Diary of a Start-up channel.


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