About Vendor Bridge

keaton_mclean_vendor_bridge

Keaton McLean

Founder - Vendor Bridge

Hey, I’m Keaton. Nice to meet you! Since you’re here, let me tell you about myself.

For as long as I can remember I have loved 3 things: creating stuff, helping people, and challenging the status quo. When I was a kid, I loved coming up with unconventional solutions to non-existent problems. Some of my early inventions included black-out contact lenses to replace an eye mask, a glow in the dark toilet seat, and trampoline soccer which ended in a broken ankle and bruised ego. Although ridiculous, I learned one important lesson from these inventions and that was: if I don’t use it or need it, how do I expect others to pay for it.  

Fast forward 15 years, I’ve learned a lot from university, travelling the world and my previous businesses. I now only create products and services that solve real world personal problems. My latest businesses: affordable 1-on-1 soccer training for kids, a lightweight travel pack of spices for outdoor enthusiasts, and a reusable drinking straw business to support the environment. All these businesses were a hit because I created them from my own experience as a solution or improvement to the current available options.

So how did Vendor Bridge start?

“…I realized my idea solved a popular inefficiency that vendors business owners faced every day.”
– Keaton, Owner of Vendor Bridge

My first experience in the event industry was with my vendor business, Straw Hut Co, which sold reusable drinking straws and other eco-products. Of the many different sales avenues such as retail stores, online, custom wholesale and in person, events were the best. Why? Because you make full margins, there’s no shipping fees, no packaging needed, and you can talk directly with your customers to learn their preferences. Also, it's not unheard of for vendors to sell $10,000 – $20,000 worth of products in a single event. Selling at events was a home run!

So after analysing the sales data, I changed my entire business model to focus 80% of my time on selling at events and the other 20% on wholesale orders only over the value of $1400. This allowed to me dedicate most of my time to finding, communicating with, and applying for as many events as possible. I started doing my homework and created a list of the top 10 questions to ask every event organizer before I purchased a booth, to make sure I only attended the best high-traffic events that matched my target market.

Well, after about 10 applications and email exchanges with each event organizer, my email inbox was a disaster and I had completely lost track of the event organizers who had answered which questions. Then, on top of running the business, I was trying to manage my event schedule while finding other events and paying for the booth spaces. It was a nightmare. So much so that I contemplated hiring a part time employee to manage it all for me (10hours x $16/hour = $160.00/month) I didn’t but the end result was that I missed application dates, I couldn’t fully inspect certain events which ended up being a waste of time, and I couldn’t find the lucrative small and cheap events because I was spending too much time dealing with the big ones.

Then, when I was driving across Canada to attend the CNE in Toronto, I finally realized the lost potential. I had just driven for 70 hours and almost 8,000 km (there and back) to attend only 1 single event. How many events and thousands of dollars did I just miss out on because I couldn’t find open event applications in the different cities I was driving through? And why are there no resources dedicated to the success of vendors? I couldn’t be the only one with this problem, right? Well after I did some market research, it turned out that I was right. Many vendors, especially those who did it full time, faced the exact same problems.

I began crafting the idea of an easy-to-use event platform built for vendors that displayed all the vendor information needed to buy a booth space. Later, I would add the unique features like the internal event/vendor search, map search, messaging service, save feature and notification system to make it even more streamlined and efficient.  

Now, today, nearly 3 years later, we handle thousands of interactions between vendors and event organizers, leading to the success of hundreds of business owners. Like your own personal assistant, Vendor Bridge is the companion you need to navigate the event industry. Sign up today and start investing safer, selling more, and growing your business.

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