YADA Events: Mehram Sumray-Roots

The events app offering everything from from ticketing and promotion through to post event marketing and data capture - already used in 17 countries

Name: Mehram Sumray-Roots
Company Name: YADA Events
Location: London
Twitter handle: @yada_events
Website: www.yada.events

Tell us what your business does:

We’re an events app that focuses on social and emotional engagement in the event tech industry. The YADA app is available on both mobile and web apps, is fully customisable, self-service, green and flexible which means that it can be used for every live or life event.

We believe that we are changing the event tech industry by inventing social engagement tools designed to power awesome events, capturing real-time data that brings our clients value long after the event is over, wherever and whenever they need it.

Our app bridges the gap between attendees and organisers. Those in the event tech space now have a collaborative platform that offers a one-stop solution that covers everything from ticketing and promotion through to post event marketing and data capture.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

The idea came from a family wedding where there were disposable cameras on every table which were placed there to allow the guests to capture every moment from their perspective and then share the not so professional pictures with the bride and groom.

Unfortunately, by the end of the evening, the majority of the cameras had been thrown away or damaged which meant that the money and the memories had gone to waste.

Over the next few weeks, the bride and groom had to rely on uploads to social media or ask their guests for their smartphone pictures.

That is where the idea for YADA came about, a platform that was available on all smartphone devices that allowed guests to share their photos and videos in real-time.

How did you know there was a market for it?        

We spent a lot of time doing market research and holding focus groups with event professionals. As someone that both attends and organises events, I knew there was a gap in the market for it, however, hearing other people confirm this was a step in the right direction for us.

Our platform has so many use cases that it was important for us to get as many different opinions as possible because we have a roadmap that takes us all the way from social events, through to arenas and higher education.

What were you doing before starting up?

Before starting YADA, I worked for Expede IT Solutions as a marketing manager and then progressed to be product director.

Whilst working in these roles I decided to kickstart Expede’s new adventure – YADA Events.

Have you always wanted to run your own business?

It’s been a long goal of mine to run a business which allows me to do what I love and work with an amazing team.

I love the way every day is not the same, with YADA being a mix of product management and creativity.

Every other evening, I’m out participating in a different client events, from fashions shows to gigs and freshers’ events.

How did you raise the money?

Our angel investors are from overseas and the joined us via a tier one entrepreneur investment scheme.

We are incredibly lucky to have them with us because they bring a completely different skillset which is invaluable to our company as we continue to grow.

Describe your business model and how you make money:

YADA Technologies is part of the Expede Group that includes IT consultancy with inroads into higher education and The Event Marketing Machine that provides marketing services to large global event organisers.

The multi-sided YADA platform derives its revenue through usage subscription, in-app purchases, ticketing, advertising and data sales. We value ourselves on being a low-cost platform that saves organisers time and money.

For events for under 30 people the platform is free to use because we wanted to include every event from small private parties to huge conferences.

What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

The biggest challenge is having the patience to persevere. You hear all these stories about start-ups that materialise out of thin air overnight and then raise billions of pounds but things aren’t always as they seem.

If you have the mindset that having your own business requires a lot of hard work and a thick skin, then it will eventually happen.

I am still not a very patient person but this journey has taught me a lot.

What was your first big breakthrough?

Our first big breakthrough was raising funding. Looking for investment can be cruel and complicated process as it can be hard at first to distinguish between those that are really interested and those that are in it to play a game of Dragons’ Den.

Unfortunately, some people take advantage of how big entrepreneurship and start-ups are at the moment and use it as a way to assert their power.

However, if you keep at it, it will pay off – promise!

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

  1. Surround yourself with great people, I’m so proud of the team we’ve built, all of whom complement each other. You’ve got to have the right people on board the bus.
  2. Believe in your product. Selling or building something you don’t believe will not work.
  3. Persevere. Things will not run to budget and everything will take longer than you think. It’s about staying the course and making it happen. That’s the job.

Where do you want to be in five years’ time?

That is always a hard question because everything moves so quickly in the start-up world.

In the space of two years, we have already gone from me and my laptop to a 15-man office in a WeWork.

I would say the big dream is being recognised as a platform internationally. We are currently used in 17 countries worldwide but we always have room for more!