Event promoter Evenko used to be Gabrielle La Rue’s employer, but later became her first customer. La Rue’s locker rental company appeals to both festivalgoers and the entrepreneurial milieu by providing a technological solution to a very real physical need.
Gabrielle La Rue was always attracted to the theatre. After her studies in music, she looked for a job that would provider her with some stability, yet would also allow her to be part of her preferred field, which is how she landed on event production. It was as an employee in the production logistics department at Evenko that she first noticed a common problem: Visitors to outdoor events would often hide their personal items in the bushes when there was no coat check available. This is when she hit on the idea of renting lockers. While the concept was completely new to this country, it had already existed in the U.S., although in a not very user-friendly form, which she describes as resembling “school lockers hastily dumped onto a site.”
From idea to fully fledged business
Before launching her company, La Rue set herself two goals: to find a business partner and get some training. Happily, she accomplished both while taking the Start Your Own Business course at the SAJE (now known as the École des entrepreneurs du Québec), where she met the Catherine D’Avril, who would become her partner a few months later. Their meeting was like professional love at first sight. The both kept their jobs for a while at first, then the founder asked her partner whether she was ready to jump into the adventure full-time. Which they both did, “with no regrets,” says La Rue.
In its early days in 2016, Locketgo was launched purely “by feel.” Its initial financing was accomplished via help from La Rue’s parents, brother and her own savings. The other major helping hand during the launch came from her employer, Evenko, which, in addition to encouraging the project, decided to offer La Rue the opportunity to prove her potential. The promoter awarded a contract to Locketgo to provide services during the Heavy Montreal, Ile Sonique and Osheaga events, even providing her with access to their warehouse so the lockers could be constructed. Thus Locketgo began to take shape. By the end of the summer of 2016, the company had logged close to 2,500 locker rentals spread over 26 events throughout Quebec. These events, particularly Osheaga, allowed the company to test its product and make some observations before heading into the next phase. “It was a gold mine of information,” states La Rue.
Moving beyond our borders
This immediate success was a blessing in disguise, since today it drives her to put all her effort into planning. “We’ve already started the next stage of product and platform development. The first version of the new locker prototype has been created and the management platform is really coming along.” With the experience she’s gained, the entrepreneur can now adapt to the various needs she’s observed and prepare to extend her services for the next festival season beyond our borders. In order to support this growth, she needs to strengthen her team and raise money. But Locketgo’s president remains cautious. “I like to calculate in advance what I’m going to do. So I’m taking a few weeks to analyze my plans and then we will start our first round of financing. That’s what we’re getting ready for.” The events are scheduled one right after the other, since Locketgo has become highly attractive south of the border. The company may even have a presence in the U.S. as early as March of 2019.
Thanks to the managing team’s good understanding of event production, Locketgo has been able to stand out in its niche. However the product will soon continue its growth even further by extending its activities into permanent markets (halls, business conferences, co-working spaces, etc.). As La Rue explains, “The idea of being able to keep things somewhere or to have something delivered somewhere is applicable to a whole host of opportunities. That’s why we’re developing a larger vision for the product.” La Rue refined her ability to flesh out her business’s potential while she was a participant in the Founderfuel accelerator.
“You have to have a bigger vision in order to excel. And it’s also important because investors want to know that you intend to conquer the planet. The accelerator program opened our eyes to other levels.”
Gabrielle La Rue
The Locketgo founder says modestly, “The stars seemed to align for us last year.” In fact, in addition to benefiting from significant media coverage, the company was awarded a number of grants and was admitted to support programs such as Adopte Inc. and Centech. When asked what she has enjoyed most about her entrepreneurial adventure thus far, La Rue answers, “I am in charge of my schedule and my life. I travel, I never do the same thing twice. I can shape my own future and offer the same experience to my team. It’s thrilling.”
Locketgo in Numbers:
4: Number of years La Rue worked as a logistical manager
16: Number of events at which Locketgo was present in 2018 (festivals, conferences and races)
40: Number of event days covered during the summer of 20183: Number of full-time employees (plus 5 part-time employees and over 10 employees on contract)
WANT TO LEARN MORE?
Visit Locketgo’s website