Louise Broni-Mensah on founding Shoobs, raising investment and staying true to her roots

The entrepreneur and Shoobs.com founder shows you don't have to compromise on your culture to achieve success

ON TO A GOOD THING: Louise Broni-Mensah initially struggled to get funding for her venture, but eventually got it with the help of YCombinator

IT’S BEEN eight years since Louise Broni-Mensah launched Shoobs. com. At the time, it was the only black entertainment event ticketing site in the UK. Almost a decade later it remains in a lane of its own – as does its founder.

From the outset, it may not have appeared that Broni-Mensah, the eldest of four children born to Ghanaian parents both working in finance, was always destined to be the CEO and founder of an entertainment company, but upon meeting her and discovering how perseverance has steered her journey, it’s no wonder.

An experience relatable to many black British African children, Broni-Mensah’s parents wanted her to pursue an academic subject at university, not her passion of music and entertainment.

“I was raised in Edmonton, north London, and growing up my parents very much instilled in me how important education was, as well as success.”

As a self-confessed maths lover, she wasn’t against doing a degree her parents would be happy with but her ambitious spirit meant she found a way to devote time to music and events throughout her studies.

“I studied mathematical economics at the university of Birmingham, but while I was there I was always involved in music and events and so I actually worked for the radio station Burn FM. I was a breakfast DJ and a drive-time DJ and then I also started working for Sony music.”

Broni-Mensah’s role with Sony, inspired by the careers of P Diddy and the like, saw her promote artists and events on campus. But she left this behind once she graduated.

Her mum was a trader and following in her footsteps, Broni-Mensah went into investment banking.

Once she’d bought a house, car, saved up, and pleased her parents, Broni-Mensah set out to pursue her passion. While managing a hip hop artist she became acutely aware of the poor promotion of black music events and the lack of a one-stop place to discover them. Tired of managing guestlists and receiving flyers on WhatsApp, Broni-Mensah had a brainwave.

“I recognised there wasn’t this one-stop destination for people to one, discover the events, and two, also to buy tickets for them and so that was really the kind of catalyst or I guess what they call the ‘lightbulb’ moment.”

VIABILITY

With hindsight it seems a sure success, but it took a while for Broni-Mensah to be completely convinced of the viability of the company.

“I kind of saw it being a problem in our community but to be honest I didn’t know if it could be a fully-fledged business.”

It soon became apparent that it wasn’t just Broni-Mensah and her friends who were desperate for a site like Shoobs, the company started making money on its first day – a rare feat – and soon the number of users rocketed. The significant organic growth convinced the then investment banker to leave her finance job to manage Shoobs full-time.

She toyed with names for the site before deciding on Shoobs – a slang term for party.

A move partly motivated by a desire to boldly state that this was a site that celebrated black culture and her commitment to authenticity.

“I thought, ‘This is about urban events,’ and the whole reason that I wanted to start the website is because I was frustrated that this culture, which for me represented the culture of London – the culture of the environment – felt like it was always hidden. These are urban, black music, black culture events and I want this to be at the forefront and I want there to be a place that is professional, that is slick for this community.”

And it’s become just that. Shoobs has provided…

To read the rest of our exclusive interview with Louise Broni-Mensah, purchase your copy of The Voice newspaper here.

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