From Squash Court to Global Software Company! Glenn Shoosmith, Founder of BookingBug explains

Never did I imagine my search online for a squash court would result in running a global software company. About 10 years ago I was searching online for a squash court near my house and found it virtually impossible to find any information on Google. When I finally found details of a court, they couldn’t take bookings or payments online, or even over the phone; you had to turn up in person to book and pay, to go away, and then to come back another time to play. As you can imagine this was extremely frustrating and I knew there had to be a better way, especially when the UK was bidding for the Olympics and trying to make it “easier for people to engage in sports”.

I realised small businesses needed a way to allow their customers to schedule appointments online in a way that was hassle-free. What I quickly discovered was that to manage appointments and bookings at scale was actually a non-trivial technical challenge. So I decided to approach the challenge with a different philosophy, asking ‘what if you managed time as if it were a stock inventory item?’

At the time, I had a great job at one of the largest banks in the world, Bank of America, and I decided to leave and start BookingBug. My first obstacle was the immaturity of the London tech scene. At that stage, investors weren’t familiar with or willing to take a risk on a technical founder looking to start a business.

Working with my co-founder, Greg Bock, we built the original version of BookingBug’s online scheduling system which quickly started attracting attention from all kinds of small business looking to offer services online – from yoga teachers to hairdressers.

As time went on I engrained myself in the London Tech scene and not long after starting BookingBug, I was selected as one of the entrepreneurs to speak at the launch of the formal London Tech City initiative, alongside the Prime Minister.

Further into BookingBug’s journey, my next challenge was the emergence of huge demand from an unexpected sector. I founded the business to create a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) tool for smaller businesses to handle bookings. It became apparent that the larger enterprises and retailers like John Lewis, Pets at Home, Levi’s, and even banks, wanted this functionality and were a fantastic potential customer for BookingBug.

My team and I had to reconstitute the business to meet this unexpected demand and took the opportunity to build the enterprise sales function to lean even further into this market. But it was a huge risk to take this pivot and try to build a new kind of business while continuing to satisfy the existing SMB customers.

This became a core strength of BookingBug, that allowed us to build up quality customers and experience, which then attracted more of this enterprise audience. It came to define the company.

Fast forward to 2018, BookingBug is a team of over 130+ employees spread across 3 continents helping the world’s biggest banks, retailers and governments deliver powerful scheduling experiences to create profitable customer relationships. Over the last year BookingBug has also been recognized by Deloitte and The Financial Times for its rapid growth and scale, naming it one of the fastest growing companies in the world which I’m extremely proud of.

Due to this growth, the most recent challenge has been one of scale: the question of expanding into new regions and markets, while maintaining the culture and thinking that lead to their current success. The key was in moving members of the team to new new regions to seed the status quo and ensure no “us vs them” mentality could develop.

As we look to the future, our team is focused on our partner ecosystem, an upcoming major product launch and expanding our sales and marketing teams across regions to continue our growth.

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