From Intropreneur to Entrepreneur

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By Alex Reynolds, Co-Founder and CEO, Vendelux

Six years ago I joined Shutterstock’s business development team to work on all kinds of opportunities, from marketing partnerships with West Elm showcasing our premium content in stores, to new market strategy in China, and general build/buy/partner analysis. The team was also responsible for our 3rd party integrations strategy, including our native API partnerships into platforms such as Facebook Ads and Wix.

It became apparent very quickly that this API business was a massive opportunity for Shutterstock and we needed to invest in this area. In 2017, the executive team accepted our proposal to create a dedicated business unit for API partnerships called Platform Solutions. Since then, we built a 75 person, eight figure ARR business as intropreneurs within a public company.

Building and scaling this team was the most challenging and exciting experience of my career. I’ve grown tremendously as a leader and have worked with the most incredible team. I wouldn’t trade it for the world!

While building this business, we saw that going to in-person events and conferences was one of the best ways to generate new business and move existing partnerships along. Or at least, it could be, if we sent the right people to the right events. However, if we went to the wrong events, or even if we sent the wrong people to a good event, it was a big waste of time, energy, and money. There was also a huge opportunity cost for missing out on great events, where we would find out about something the week of and kick ourselves for not knowing sooner.

We realized that it was critical to know about all of the relevant events, and understand who was going to be attending, in order to optimize which events to attend and who to send. The problem? There was no platform to help us with this challenge! We built complex processes, hired external data companies, and spent hours googling, and we were still not at the scale or precision that we wanted. We knew there had to be a better way.

It turns out that we were not alone. Many companies struggle with the same problem and related problems. For example, 70% of B2B professionals find it difficult to drive pipeline from events, and less than 20% of event marketers can calculate ROI from events.

Companies are spending 30% of their marketing budgets on the event marketing channel, and the best companies drive 40%+ pipeline from events, but there is no platform to help maximize revenue from this channel. No single platform to help with the end to end journey, from determining the right events and scheduling meetings, to automatically tracking impact from the channel. So after leaving Shutterstock last year and taking some time to reflect on this space, we decided to build it!

Introducing Vendelux, a platform that empowers event marketers to maximize impact from the event marketing channel. We have built a database of over 30,000 events and are leveraging CRM pipeline data to help companies determine the best events to attend and sponsor, and who to send, to maximize revenue from the channel. This Event Intelligence offering is the first step towards building the System of Record for the Event Marketing Channel.

I loved building a start-up as an intropreneur within Shutterstock. Loved moving quickly, failing fast, scaling the team, getting in the trenches, and living on the cutting edge of innovation for the company. I  could not be more excited to officially dive into the deep end and build an independent start-up as an entrepreneur. The early response has been incredible and we are just getting started!

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