Rebecca Kelly

Inspirational Woman: Rebecca Kelly | CEO & Founder, VenueScanner

Meet Rebecca Kelly, CEO and Founder of VenueScanner

Rebecca Kelly

Rebecca Kelly, one of the UK’s leading female tech entrepreneurs, is founder and CEO of the UK’s largest online venue booking platform, VenueScanner.

With venues ranging from schools, community centres and office meeting rooms to pubs, churches and coffee shops, VenueScanner is revolutionising the way people and companies find, book and use venue space.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No, not really! I was always ambitious and knew I wanted a successful career, but I didn’t have a plan for what that looked like. I completed a short internship in asset management after university and through that I realised I wanted to be at the different side of the table – I knew I wanted to be creating businesses, not advising them.

I then held roles at M&S and Naked Wines, where I saw firsthand the challenges facing the events sector. That’s when I created VenueScanner to help event planners find better and more affordable venues and to help venue hosts better compete with the industry big players.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

Getting in the door was a challenge. And I am dyslexic so the endless job applications were certainly tough but that’s when I first learnt the value of resilience and not giving up. I guess the second challenge came when I launched VenueScanner while trying to hold down a full time job. It was my first experience of burnout, but it also helped me commit to my business full time.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

If you had asked me this before the pandemic, I would have said growing VenueScanner to become the largest venue database globally. But when Covid-19 hit, our business, like so many in the hospitality and events sector, suffered hugely. Since then, we have built the business back up from scratch, improved our product for both venues and event organisers, raised over £1 million in funding and recruited a team of incredibly talented people to help me drive the business forward as we emerge from the pandemic. That has without a doubt been my biggest achievement to date.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

Resilience! You can’t succeed without the ability to roll with the punches and keep going in spite of the challenges you may be facing. I would also say that having a growth mindset is important – I am always looking to challenge myself and continuously improve. That is fundamental to the success of VenueScanner.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

Understand all the aspects of what a career in tech involves and then learn as much as possible. Gain experiences across the business to understand what you are good at and then develop and hone your core skill. I have always found having a mentor really helpful so try and find someone in the industry you can meet regularly with to discuss your career and the challenges you are facing.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

Absolutely. Just look at the recent stat from PwC that says just five percent of leadership positions in the technology sector are held by women. This has to change. And it’s all about changing perceptions from an early age – we need to encourage more girls to take on STEM subjects at school and university. We also need to challenge the traditional view of leaders as strong, dominant problem-solvers who don’t make mistakes and instead champion the qualities that women leaders typically possess – empathy, vulnerability and collaboration – and celebrate their success in order to inspire the next generation.

There are currently only 21 per cent of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

If companies want to create an inclusive and diverse workforce and overcome the gender imbalance, the first step is equalling their parental leave policies. This is an issue I feel very passionately about – men and women should be entitled to the same paternity/maternity leave so that employers no longer have an excuse to give promotions and higher pay to men.

For me, it is about creating an environment in which anyone who wants to succeed, can succeed, regardless of gender.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

There are lots of great entrepreneur and tech communities, but here are the books I have found most helpful in my career to date.

  • Startup 101 – The Lean Startup
  • Leadership – Dare to Lead
  • Strategy – The Infinite Game
  • Sales – Fanatical Prospecting
  • Negotiation – Never split the difference
  • Growth– Hacking growth
  • Product – Hooked