The best startups are the ones that solve problems. Caroline McQueen is an actress who wanted a members club where she could meet others striving to achieve similar goals to her own. After struggling to find one that hit all the right notes, she decided to start her own. Industry Avenue hosts exclusive events and services for creative artists  to further their career through making valuable connections.

CarolineMcQueen

We choose one Virgin StartUp company to be featured on Virginstartup.org each week. We ask our startups of the week to deliver the ultimate elevator pitch. What would they say if they had one minute in a lift with Sir Richard Branson? 

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Ground to floor 1 – Explain what your business does

Industry Avenue is a thoughtfully vetted, membership-based community for Creative Artists and Entertainment professionals who want to develop their public persona, market their talent more effectively, and perform at their highest level.

We host a range of exclusive events and services including cocktail parties and private film screenings. Our mission is to empower artists to make new friends, create work opportunities, and turn their dreams into a reality, one social event at a time.

Floor 1 to 2  - Where are you based?

Industry Avenue is based in Covent Garden, London, and we currently host events in and around the area. I work remotely, either from home or from wherever I fancy, and stay in contact with my team via email and skype.

Floor 2 to 3 – What’s the business model?

I created a membership site based on a Recurring Revenue Payment System, similar to subscription sites such as Heroku and Wufoo. There are three levels of membership available; 3-months, 6-months, or one year depending on people’s needs and level of commitment. Members have the option of paying for their subscriptions in full, or splitting payments into two monthly installments.

Using this structure gives the company a tractable cash-flow that’s scalable, while making services affordable for members by spreading the cost.

Floor 3 to 4 – Who are your competitors?

In the last few years, several startups have emerged with the objective of improving the lines of communication between actors, filmmakers, and freelance creatives. There are some companies that are tech-based, and focused on building a social media platform dedicated to artists. Then, there are others that leverage the audience on existing platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to organise meet-ups in cities with a major film and television market.

Floor 4 to 5 – What’s your USP?

What makes Industry Avenue different is not only do we provide regular events for our members to meet up in person, but we’re also building an online platform where members can connect with each other away from events.

There’s training available via the website, where members can learn timeless and effective strategies in self management and personal branding, so they can sharpen their business savvy, get answers to the burning questions about their career, and make the most of every opportunity that comes there way.

Floor 5 to 6 – Where did the idea come from?

I came up with the idea for Industry Avenue a couple of years ago. I’m a working actor and also a Lifestyle Expert, and I’d noticed that a lot of my clients and actor friends were asking similar questions like; “How do I get an agent?”, “How do I get work in LA?”, “What’s the best way to meet directors? etc. And it dawned on me; although there are a lot of blogs offering great advice and answering these questions, other than the private members clubs, there isn’t really anywhere for actors and other creative people in London to meet up and network on a regular basis.

So last year (2013), I posted a message on social media asking if anyone wanted to come and mingle and watch a few short films. The response was amazing! What started out with just a few of my friends and a film projector, began to grow into something much, MUCH bigger after just a couple weeks.

Floor 6 to 7 – How much funding did you receive from Virgin StartUp?

I received a loan of £3,500.

Floor 7 to 8 – How are you going to use it to grow your business?

I intend to use the funds from Virgin Startup to increase our market presence, grow our audience, and automate the website, so members will receive a higher quality of service.

Floor 8 to 9 – Who’s your Virgin StartUp Mentor? (Name and business)

My Virgin Startup Mentor is Gemma Cocker, VP of growth at Neverbland Ltd. She has a lot of experience in events management and also with mentoring entrepreneurs in London’s startup scene.

Floor 9 to 10 – What’s the best tip they’ve given you?

The best tip that Gemma has given me is to always think about the five senses when organising events, to ensure that clients get most value from the experience and enjoy themselves.

Floor 10 to 11 – What’s your workspace like? (send us a pic from your phone)

I always have an inspiring image and quote on my desktop, to keep me focused and productive throughout the day. I also have my vision board as my screensaver for in between breaks!

Workspace  

Floor 11 to 12 – where will your business be in 12 month’s time?

The response from the target audience has been more than I imagined. So, in the next 12 months, our goal is to create a thriving a community of 600 members, increase the number of events and services on offer, and to begin laying foundation of expanding abroad.

For more information, head to www.industry-avenue.com follow Caroline on Twitter @CEMcQueen and like her startup on Facebook.