Interview with Andrew Needham, CEO of HeadBox

We caught up with Andrew Needham, CEO of HeadBox, to talk all things HeadBox…


Why was HeadBox started?

Almost five years ago, HeadBox was born as an online marketplace for inspiring meeting, offsite and event spaces. Our tagline was “Sharing Inspiring Spaces” with a clear vision to “bring people and spaces together to make brilliant things happen, everywhere.” The concept was simple, we wanted to streamline the way that individual bookers discovered brilliant venues for their work-related events and provide them with a platform where they could book and pay online.

This worked for events up to £5K. But we quickly realised that there were a whole range of needs that existed at a company level and that if we addressed those then we could create even more value for our customers. So we launched HeadBox Business, our SaaS software to help large corporates manage their entire events programme.

HeadBox is now the UK’s fastest-growing event technology company. Every day we unlock brilliant events for event bookers, corporates and venues through human-kind event tech.


What makes HeadBox different?

We believe that our commitment to digitally transform the meetings and events industry through artificial intelligence makes HeadBox stand out. The events industry lends itself perfectly to automation and augmentation as it is filled with inefficient repetitive processes currently executed by humans when the reality is that a machine would be better, quicker and more accurate. AI can automate many of these manual tasks that require minimal thinking as well as augment market and client-specific intelligence, enhancing the user’s decision-making abilities. This will mean that event planners can focus on the high EQ activities that they are very good at such as creativity, managing client relationships and events expertise that machines won’t be able to solve for a long time. It is this combination of AI-powered software working in tandem with a personalised and curated service that we have embodied at HeadBox with our “humankind event tech” offering.

We are on a mission to reinvent the global events industry through humankind event tech. Our ecosystem of AI-enabled software products solves a variety of problems for our three main customers; event bookers, businesses and venues.

  • HeadBox, our AI-powered venue marketplace, enables any individual to find their perfect venue, with over 9000 spaces across Europe to choose from.
  • Our AI-powered HeadBox Business software enables organisations to plan, build, manage and track their entire meeting and events programme all-in-one place and is used by hundreds of global brands such as Dentsu, Skyscanner and DC Advisory.
  • HeadBox for Hosts, is our ecosystem of products for venues listed on the HeadBox marketplace. This includes our AI-powered venue recommendation and pricing system and HeadBox 3D, our virtual venue tours.


What have you learnt?

Even as the world has been turned upside down and the meetings and events sector has been badly affected by COVID-19 I still believe that the following is as true as it ever was.

Understanding your customers is key: It’s by focusing on understanding customer needs and solving their problems, being utterly obsessed with our customers, that HeadBox has been able to innovate, create value and change this industry for the better.

Attract the best team: As a small business, your first hires are essential to your success. You need a team around you that you can trust to help you turn your vision into a reality. As a leader, one of my key focus areas has been attracting the best talent with the right expertise and values into my team.

Live your values: Our core values are Brilliance, Curiosity, Empathy and Integrity which we bring into everything we do at HeadBox. Hiring a team that has similar core values at their heart helps us to pull together as a team, and drive the business towards our key goals.

There are a few moments along this journey where, in hindsight, we might have taken a different approach. But without making mistakes we can’t learn. The most important thing is how we have shared what we’ve learnt as a team and then taken action on those learnings as quickly as possible.


What are the plans for HeadBox in the future?

Something that has remained constant over the years is our obsession with our customers. Aiming to solve our customers’ problems has meant we’ve been laser-focused on building products with that aim always at the forefront of our minds.

It means that having started our journey as an e-commerce marketplace for events we have now become one of the UK’s fastest-growing event tech companies helping major corporates digitally transform their meeting and events programme.

In 2020 our Product and Tech team is already focused on our AI efforts across four main pillars:

  • Personalised experiences: understanding our users, what they want and their preferences so no two HeadBox experiences will ever be the same
  • Pricing: delivering instant accurate prices for each enquiry based on the analysis of thousands of historic event enquiries
  • Smart Venue Recommendations: delivering highly personalised suitable venue suggestions instantly without human-intervention
  • Style preferences: Making venue recommendations based on your aesthetic preferences as HeadBox machine learning understands your style

We believe that IQ (Artificial Intelligence) and EQ (emotional quotient) both have a firm place in the events industry and that businesses who invest in both will be the leaders of change in the sector.

IQ + EQ = Human-kind Event Tech