Imagine trying to secure a venue for a performance, work function or wedding and you can’t get a response from the booking manager. Or worse, after confirming, you find out your event has been double booked, leaving only days to find a new venue.
Roy Vann found himself in that predicament just a year ago. A hip-hop artist and concert promoter via his company, Dallas Knight Life, Vann put together a music showcase only to find he’d been double booked, leaving him scrambling at the last minute.
“It was very frustrating,” Vann says. “It messed up our whole promotion schedule and threw a lot of things out of whack. We had trouble matching the dates of the artists we wanted to bring in with the dates at the few venues we had access to. [I thought], ‘There’s got to be an easier way to do this.’”
The experience led him to create Zenu — an app that promises to be a new, streamlined way to book venues in North Texas.
“I was surprised it didn’t exist yet,” he says. “There was really no easy way to book a venue. I think that everyone will quickly understand it once they hop into it. I want to put a call out to the creatives in Dallas to give it a shot. It can make their lives easier whether they’re the person booking it or the venue owner.”
Vann has described it as the Airbnb of booking venues and says it’s intuitive and easy to use, and it takes less than three minutes to set up a profile.
Profiles list venue amenities with photos and 3-D tours, so most questions are answered up front. The app also has a secure messaging service and sends push notifications to a venue owner’s phone.
“It takes one push of a button to accept or deny [a booking request], instead of going through long email chains or emails that get buried or a web form on a website that doesn’t get answered,” he says.
And Vann says the app is something anyone can use — from
event planners to musicians to people planning their weddings or family reunions. “If they have any type of online presence at all, they’re tech-savvy enough to use this.”
The app has been developed and released in beta. This week, Vann launched a Kickstarter campaign to build Zenu’s user base. Venues can pledge to the Kickstarter now to get in on the ground floor of the app.
Plans run $8, $41 and $84 per month, billed annually. These plans have a range of options and amenities. During the Kickstarter campaign, which is functioning as a presale, venues will save 75 percent off the market value of a subscription to Zenu.
Vann says he needs to reach a goal of $39,000 on Kickstarter to be able to do a full launch of the app, planned for late September.
While users can book venues on the app for free, Vann invites people who will benefit from the app to support the campaign, ensuring that the app can launch. A $10 pledge will buy access to the beta version.
“If you’re not a venue owner but you’re pledging to our Kickstarter, you’re letting us know that you believe in what we’re doing and you want to be a part of it and see it come to life so you can utilize it,” Vann says. “If you’re a wedding planner or event promoter, this is your livelihood — you’re booking events all day, every day. If you’re spending half your day waiting on responses from venue owners or having to ask people for recommendations on venues, you can knock all of that out in 20 minutes, instead of waste your entire day.”
So far, a handful of venues have committed to the Kickstarter, including the Longhorn Ballroom, Mac’s Southside and Zuri Restaurant Bar & Lounge in Arlington.
Vann hopes that it doesn’t stop there. Once the app launches in North Texas, he’ll be looking to expand it into other markets.
“It’s a hyper-scalable business … . When I signed up for Airbnb, it doesn’t matter that Airbnb is based in California. With technology, when something’s created, it’s created everywhere,” Vann says. “We want to grow gradually while maintaining Dallas as our focus and our foundation to bring this everywhere.”
To learn more about Zenu and contribute to its Kickstarter, click here.
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