In 2017 fellow classmates Andrea Guzzoni and Dennis Helderman (Msc Strategic Marketing 2014) set up Rentuu. What began as a solution to providing eco-friendly, sustainable solutions to temporary furniture, has developed into a B2B marketplace providing high-spec items for events and everything else in-between. The business has been so successful that the duo were selected to participate in the Pitch@Palace 11.0, an initiative founded by The Duke of York as a platform to highlight and accelerate the work of entrepreneurs. Selected from hundreds of applications to take part, we talk to them about the process and their future business plans.
Talk us through Pitch@Palace
Our mission is to empower event organisers through enabling access to 1000s of event suppliers from furniture to audio/visual to infrastructure hire for larger scale events. We applied to take part in the Pitch@Palace event as we wanted to gain exposure and continue to grow the business.
Pitch@palace provides a platform for businesses to pitch to some of the most influential business leaders and investors from across the UK’s technology, innovation and business communities.
“The application process was straightforward and comprehensive. We invested the time to thoroughly answer each question ranging from our current revenues to key milestones to future vision and intended ask from the Pitch@Palace audience. Our answers were carefully reviewed by the Pitch@Palace team who did their due diligence and connected with us personally to share the news of our acceptance.”
As part of the process they had to participate in a bootcamp which gave them the chance to hear from industry experts, and former Pitch@palace alumni, as well as receiving mentoring and support. As an added bonus, the event was hosted by the Imperial Enterprise Lab and held at Imperial’s White City Campus, in the new Molecular Science Research Hub.
“The bootcamp experience was fantastic! Being an Imperial alumni it was great being back on campus. The event had a series of talks from alumni and key business leaders from Will King, founder of The King of Shaves and Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, chairman and founder of easyGroup.
“Pre-event the Pitch@Palace team match you up to mentors (called elevators) to help support and guide you through the programme. Silvia and Neil were absolute rockstars and not only gave valuable introductions and advice but, Silvia’s German Craft Beer Brewery ended up as one of our clients!”
The Rentuu team made it to the 42 finalists, and although they were beaten to the title by another Imperial team of graduates, Jelly Drops, they took a great deal from the experience. “The Pitch@Palace team were incredibly well organised and proactive in ensuring every entrepreneur was briefed and received the support they need. We are very grateful to them. In terms of what we took away with us – we met clients, prospective investors, partners and built a wider Imperial alumni network. The experience has been invaluable.”
Growing the business
And if the excitement of Pitch@Palace wasn’t enough, Andrea and Dennis recently received investment of £400k from Mash Media. Using this they hope to grow the business in Europe and leverage technology to build the client base. “We believe this investment with help us do this better by providing experienced UK knowledge and access to a wider industry network to scale as we bring on board more venture capital. We’re delighted that they saw the potential in our business.”
In terms of securing the investment their advice to others wanting to do the same is:
Be persistent, start early – things always take longer – and ask for help from current stakeholders and beyond.
They credit their time at Imperial for meeting each other, as well as providing the strategic thinking needed to see the bigger picture. And with experience, drive and investment on their side, they are all set to become a leading name in global event management in the next five years. “We hope to become a global platform spanning continents empowering tens of thousands of businesses to hire equipment faster at better value with less stress to fuel sustainability through the circular economy.”