Meet Encinitas Startup
The Venue Report
A little less than ten years ago, Cortnie Purdy-Fausner was running her own event planning business and attending big, splashy events at venues across the country geared to entice planners like her to book their sites for her clients’ event needs. When she sensed there had to be a more efficient way to connect venues and planners, the idea for The Venue Report was born. “With the way the online world was going, I saw this need for the venue side to be able to have a platform to market themselves, and the end-user side to be able to find these places,” says Purdy-Fausner. “There was just a big, glaring need to bridge the two.”
Created in partnership with her husband, Donny Fausner, The Venue Report’s unique platform provides a travel-planning resource with a focused skew toward group experiences. “Everything we do is to promote the age-old tradition of gathering — one of the oldest traditions of mankind,” she explains. In addition to a heavy group focus, The Venue Report’s identity is molded by an emphasis on trusted, curated information that provides answers versus “everything under the sun” search results. The venues found on the site are selected via a bi-directional process — some are hand-picked by Venue Report staffers; others apply and are only featured after a thorough vetting process. Each venue manages its identity on the site (The Venue Report reserves final editorial and image approval), allowing for real-time updates that enable up-to-the-moment information to reflect any special events, pricing, and other details that may appeal to searchers. A significant differentiator from other travel sites is the absence of end-user reviews. Instead, travelers are encouraged to provide “helpful tips” regarding the venues they’ve visited. “We’re here to be a ‘happy’ platform,” she says.
In the ever-competitive world of startups, and in a much more conservative venture climate than just a few years ago when capital flowed like water, The Venue Report is thriving. A pre-seed round that raised $850,000 closed in July 2015; the pair is currently engaged in a second funding round, led by Mucker Capital. The site currently boasts 1,800 venue partners, even without any targeted effort to recruit them. “We haven’t done any marketing just to venues [yet]. Our main goal is to get traffic, brand recognition, and focus on end users,” she says.
A native of North County — she was among the first graduating class of La Costa Canyon High School — Purdy-Fausner is placing her bets on San Diego as the next hotbed for startups. The company of nine, which includes herself as founder/CEO and Fausner as co-founder/COO, is headquartered in an open concept workspace on Second Street in Encinitas, steps from Better Buzz Coffee and health food spot EVE Encinitas, where they know her by name. “There’s a lot going on in San Diego in the startup world. I see a big shift happening here,” she says. “There’s going to be a big turning point where San Diego [will] have a much larger startup community.” She cites the new Make creative campus in Carlsbad as a prime example of the burgeoning diversity in the area.
Choosing San Diego over the San Francisco Bay Area, New York, or even LA isn’t without its challenges, however. “If you’re located in [those] main spots, you get to work with your advisers much more closely if you’re next door than farther away,” she says. However, she doesn’t feel there’s any kind of stigma associated with a Southern California address that might dissuade would-be investors from taking her seriously, but feels it’s the smaller number of startups here that sometimes can be viewed as a drawback. “Of course, we’ll do what’s best for the business and we’ll move if we have to, but I’d love to be a part of the startup community here for a really long time.” venuereport.com DEANNA MURPHY
The Venue Report’s Top Wedding
Trends of 2016
Founder and CEO, Cortnie Purdy-Fausner, shares the biggest travel trends shaping weddings right now:
Glamping, Camping, and Festival Weddings Goodbye honeymoon suite, hello Airstream!
The Great Outdoors “Brides and grooms are headed outside more than ever,” she says, “saying ‘I Do’ in forests with tree houses, in the middle of vast desert landscapes, at camps, vineyards, farms and more.”
Unique Types of Venues Purdy-Fausner calls this the biggest trend — renovated spaces such as factories, old pharmacies, warehouses, and old properties that have history attached to them that are being restored and turned into unique event spaces.
Barns “These continue to rule the roost as the most popular search on The Venue Report forwedding venue type,” she says.
Festival-style wedding: Photo by Liron Erel Portrait: © Ranch & Coast Magazine