Leeds Beckett graduate makes event planning easy with new app
Bookarella is an online platform which fully automates the process of organising and managing an event. Due to be launched in September 2017, the brains behind Bookarella, James Abbott, is now looking for a team of staff and the support of investors to prepare for the app’s next stages.
James, aged 28 and originally from Bradford, graduated from Leeds Beckett University in 2011 with a BA (Hons) degree in Business Studies. After writing a business plan as part of his final year of study, James set up his first company, Mix & Twist, less than a year after graduating.
Based in Leeds, Mix & Twist provides a premium mobile bar experience, focusing on cocktails and entertaining bartenders, for events including weddings, private parties and corporate events. Five years later, Mix & Twist has gone from strength to strength, doubling its turnover every year.
James is now getting ready to launch his new enterprise, Bookarella, which will allow businesses to plan every aspect of an event, from integrated calendars to staff management, pricing and invoicing, through a platform which is available to multiple users across different devices.
James explained: “I love technology and was looking to start a platform-based business. Through Mix & Twist, I had found that a lot of companies were looking for a tool to manage their event planning however all the existing platforms were for big exhibitions and ticketed events. There was nothing for in-house event organisation or event administration. Bookarella allows companies to create a full event with the click of a button and provides the means for smaller companies, such as wedding planners, to manage events without the need for an events manager. Or, for companies with events managers, Bookarella allows them to free up more time to focus on their clients and to ensure that nothing is missed or forgotten.”
James is now looking to secure £200,000 of investment into Bookarella ready for its launch in September and is recruiting a start-up team of staff for the company. Job roles are available across sales, marketing and events.
Speaking about his success so far, James said: “Whilst studying business at Leeds Beckett, one of the modules required a business plan to be created. I had to think hard and come up with something based around my current skills that would be financially viable.
“As I worked part-time in a high-end, city centre cocktail bar with excellent training, this was one of my most unique talents. So I looked into hiring myself out as a cocktail bartender with a mobile bar for parties and events. Throughout developing the plan, which started as something I had to do for part of my course, I became extremely excited and realised this was something I wanted for real.
“Alongside this, I was completing my personal and professional development module, which turned out to be one of the most valuable from my whole time at University. It made me evaluate which career I wanted to go into after graduating, of which I found the answer was entrepreneur.”
James started Mix & Twist through the use of virtual office space within Leeds Beckett’s Enterprise and Innovation Hub. He then secured a start-up loan of £4,500 which he used to buy mobile bars, equipment, glassware and to pay for rent. His first event was a store opening for a premium designer kitchen company based in Leeds. After working alone for the first two years, James now has seven full-time team members and around 50 freelance bar tenders and events staff across the country.