The Entrepreneur: Rob Hill, The Eventa Group
He's built a £10m empire on the back of hen and stag do's - here Hill talks us through his biggest achievements, mistakes and business ambitions
Founder: Rob Hill
Company: The Eventa Group (Hen Heaven and The Stag Company)
Website: www.henheaven.co.uk; www.thestagcompany.com
Description in one line: UK’s leading hen and stag do organiser
12 month target: £12m
Describe your business model and what makes your business unique:
- We organise hen and stag do’s across the UK and different EU locations.
- We own private luxury accommodation in Bournemouth, Nottingham and Brighton.
- The online payment method we provide for our customers is very easy to use and convenient for them. We also offer ABTA protection.
What is your greatest business achievement to date?
I’ve had some great ones, but the biggest is being recognised for two years in a row (2012 and 2013) in the Virgin Fast Track Awards for the 100 fastest growing event company in the UK; ranking 80th in 2012 and 61st in 2013. This also gave me the opportunity to meet Sir Richard Branson.
What numbers do you look at every day in your business?
Numbers are always important in business. I tend to focus on the booking volumes and average transaction values. I also keep updated and analyse how we perform vs the budget.
To what extent does your business trade internationally and what are your plans?
We are currently not trading internationally, but we have been in discussions on potentially setting this up.
Describe your growth funding path:
The business was started without any external investment and a small overdraft in the early days.
What technology has made the biggest difference to your business?
We have The Party Hub which is an online portal used by our customers to make things easier for them from a communication and organisation point. It really helps with interaction between our operations team and the hen/stag groups. It is a facility for each group member to make payments for themselves which avoids the hassles within an entire group.
We also have The Wave; our bespoke CRM system which makes it easier for us to manage the bookings all along the customer journey, from the moment the enquiries come in right through to the feedback stage.
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Where would you like your business to be in three years?
To have achieved £20m turnover and have expanded into at least three different European markets.
What is the hardest thing you have ever done in business?
I would have to say getting the business up and running from scratch. Launching its first ever website and understanding how things are done in the beginning was challenging at times because it was all very new. I had no experience setting up a company back then and it was extremely overwhelming at times; but my hunger and persistence was key in getting the business off the ground.
What was your biggest business mistake?
Growing too quickly without really taking the time to set up robust processes as it was always just a case of getting the business in then worrying about it later.
Piece of Red Tape that hampers growth most:
Employment regulation as it can take up lots of your valuable time in the start-up phase and you run a big risk if you cut corners with it. I remember my first employee contract was two pages long – it’s now a minimum of seven pages long. If I had done it all properly from day one I doubt we would have been able to grow as quickly as we did.
What is the most common serious mistake you see entrepreneurs make?
Not delegating enough. It can be very exhausting and time consuming trying to do everything within the business. You have to realise that you can’t do it all on your own and that there are people who are better than you at certain things and who have specific skills which will ultimately profit your business.
How will your market look in three years?
Technology will play a big part in making hen and stag weekends easier to organise as it is vital we continually keep up with what is trending in the online world. Technology is ever-changing and I think it’s really important to stay on top of things.
What is the single most important piece of advice you would offer to a less experienced entrepreneur?
Stop running your business and start growing your business. At one point, you do realise that it’s almost impossible to do everything on your own. You can easily miss out on fantastic new opportunities because you simply can’t see them.
The quicker you put a management team together, the better and more solid your business foundation will be and it will run more smoothly.
Executive education or learn it on the job?
Learn on the job.
What would make you a better leader?
To constantly strive for perfection and never stop learning.
One business app and one personal app you can’t do without:
I am on The Times app quite often; I like to keep updated with what’s happening. I am also a keen Linkedin app user, it’s a great business networking tool.
There’s a few key ones I have read, but my top one is Boo Hoo: A Dot Com Story by Ernst Malmsten. It takes you on the entire business of the dot-com boom era journey from the very bottom right to the top.
This book gave me a taste for what you get in running your own business and outlined how things can go great very quickly and then collapse just as fast. I learnt a lot from it and I got some very useful tips for building your own website.
Find out more about Rob Hill in our Young Guns profile here.