VMO Chief ‘Eventgelist’ Vincent Kok, together with the company’s co-founders, got inspired to build a event venue and services booking platform platform when he was working at a travel and event organising company.
“We found it strange that we were helping to book hotels and flights overseas but we couldn’t book event space in KL or in Malaysia, online. So it was ‘Hey, this is something that we should do’,” he explained in an interview with e27.
VMO (pronounced ‘vee-moe’) allow users to search by name or location for venues and services supplied by over 500 listed vendors around Kuala Lumpur and Ipoh.
Not only can users search venue details and the event-related services they provide (such as live bands and MCs), but they also can make an ‘instant booking’ or get a quotation and pay directly using credit card or PayPal.
VMO charge their venue partners on a performance basis, meaning that partners will only be billed if there is a booking coming through the platform.
The product was launched in October 2014, and the company claimed that it has recorded RM17 million (US$4.3 million) worth of inquiries on its platform today.
VMO is run by a lean team of just four Founders. Kok said this was intentional as they wanted to make sure that they know the entire process of running the business themselves.
The company received a funding of RM100,000 (US$25,000) from an angel investor. However, Kok also took the chance to announce that VMO is about to launch a crowdfunding pitch through Singapore-based platform Fundnel in May.
“We talked to several VCs but out of the people we talked to, we feel comfortable with Fundnel. They themselves are entrepreneurs in the F&B industry,” Kok explained.
When it comes to local trends in hosting events, the first point that Kok highlighted is that corporate events are moving away from conventional meeting rooms in hotels.
It has something to do with the events budget of these companies, which had been lowered in the past years.
“They’d rather use empty spaces at restaurants or cafes for events like workshops or trainings. When we first started this business, we approached several restaurants, and they said events give a significant amount of their revenue. In some places as high as 40 per cent,” he explained.
For personal events such as birthday parties, there is a strong competitive element where people would avoid hosting their events at the same venue as their peers’ events, and a tendency to not use the same venue twice.
Social media also plays a crucial role in their decision-making process.
“It has to be Instagram-able. Food is one thing, but if I want to take a selfie or wefie, the ambience has to look good. That’s one of the main criteria that we look at when we put up places online,” he said.
VMO currently has a partnership with ride-hailing app Grab. Event guests can use promo codes provided by Grab to get discounts off their rides. VMO says this will solve the issue of limited parking spaces at events.
In the future, VMO sees opportunity to expand to another market through its crowdfunding effort with Fundnel.
“Malaysia will still be our primary focus, but we are also going to Singapore, primarily due to the close proximity. Also because we are very familiar with it already,” Kok explained.
Image Credit: VMO