Callie Ogden talked to us about capitalizing on an industry need, forging her own path and embracing entrepreneurship — with a little help from back office automation.
As the Founder and Director of Event Vines, Callie Ogden helps enhance the event industry by connecting everyone in it. The former Director of Events for Wanderlust Yoga, Callie gained experience in the event industry and developed a wanderlust of her own, into entrepreneurship.
Wanderlust Yoga and other venues and vendors in the Austin area all struggled sorting through connections, contacting and evaluating options and booking events. Callie went into warrior’s pose to develop a network to simplify the event management and booking process. From that seed, Event Vines bloomed.
As Event Vines expanded to create tools to help event professionals connect, Callie soon learned that her own business would need tools to enable her to reach the next level. She turned to FINSYNC to help improve invoicing, automate repetitive tasks and allow her to focus on business growth.
What inspired you to start Event Vines?
I was working in both the event and real estate industries in Austin, and I noticed a lot of similarities, but the event industry has way fewer resources. I saw a need for an event industry directory (modeled after MLS) and a la carte event services, especially for white-glove buyer support (functioning similar to a Realtor).
I did about a year of research with venues, vendors and event planners while I built the directory and then launched in Austin just in time for the SXSW Festival in 2017. I’m so glad I made the leap into entrepreneurship!
What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a start-up?
My biggest challenges are administrative. Since there are a lot of moving parts with Event Vines, between the directory and the services, there is a continuous stream of administrative tasks ranging from emails to vendors and clients, invoice payment and collection, and more.
As a bootstrapping start-up owner, I would initially juggle most of those time-consuming tasks on top of sales, event sourcing, booking and marketing. Each year I’ve gotten more efficient by outsourcing and managing the administrative tasks, so I can focus on building the business and team.
What’s the best thing about being a small business owner?
Freedom! Event Vines is growing on my terms — so I have full creative freedom to shape the services, brand and offerings. I also enjoy the freedom to work remotely and according to my own schedule.
What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned?
Collaboration is a powerful tool! In marketing and event sponsorships, you can combine forces with other business owners to share expenses, the workload, and audiences. This has been really advantageous for me.
It’s also important to build for sustainability rather than as fast as possible. I’ve learned to be strategic with how I spend my time and my money.
Any advice for small business startups out there?
Pay close attention to what is and is not working for your business and promptly adjust as needed, whether it’s technology or hiring a contractor or just getting support. Don’t let the thing that isn’t working linger.
What prompted Event Vines to start using FINSYNC?
Before FINSYNC, we focused primarily on online sales and used Stripe and Quickbooks. This presented a limit for how many online invoices I could send. I needed a platform that would allow unlimited invoices and vendor payments since that is a large part of what I’m doing in my business. FINSYNC can do that and has many other features that are valuable to me.
Has FINSYNC helped Event Vines overcome any specific challenges?
FINSYNC gave me the tools and the customer support to manage my business accounting. I feel more confident in my ability to juggle administrative tasks that come with invoicing and paying out vendors because I have FINSYNC.
I can simply CC them on an email, and they can follow up if an invoice hasn’t been paid by the client, and that is a huge relief. Before that, I had to follow up on everything personally. It just takes things off my plate to have the service and also the automation.
Most of the events I do involve booking at least 12 different vendors. Then I have to pay the venue, and they all have different payment schedules. That’s where the concierge service has been super helpful. I can loop them in on an email to make sure I’m collecting payment when I need to and sending checks when I need to.
I also like that I can have all my checks mailed to FINSYNC, and they handle the deposits through their lockbox service and make sure it is all recorded. That has been super helpful — less things for me to do.
What are the biggest benefits Event Vines has experienced using FINSYNC?
FINSYNC has an amazing customer support team that helps you learn how to use their solution and set it up. Their concierge service, invoicing, and bill pay have been the most beneficial for improving my administrative workflow.
It doesn’t take me as long to complete tasks, and it gives me more confidence. I know I’m not forgetting to get something paid or to get paid.
FINSYNC gives me peace of mind.