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Meet Johnene McBeth of Room University in Newport News

Today we’d like to introduce you to Johnene McBeth.

Johnene, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I am Johnene. Serial Entrepreneur, Speaker, Podcast Host and Course Instructor. I teach entrepreneurs how to design quality creative for their brand and I simplify natural hair care with NEW technology! Here is how my story began. ​​In 2010, I lost all of my hair from a hair treatment gone wrong in college. In 2011, I created a student organization, My Natural International, Inc, to help college women understand self-worth and natural hair. Then, discovered that there was a problem with distribution channels for natural hair products.

In 2013, I won a Business Plan Competition in college for a natural hair product distribution center venture and graduated with B.S. in Business Management.

In 2014, YouTube was just not enough assistance to guide me in my natural hair journey, so I started hosting natural hair events to get connected to the natural hair community in my hometown, in hopes of networking to learn more about products and techniques to grow healthy natural hair.

My goal was to host events in intimate places like bakeries, radio stations and movie theater lobbies so that guests could enjoy an intimate experience in a venue that they would not have otherwise considered as an event space. My event ran for three years before I no longer wanted to deal with the frustrations of finding a venue that offered a seamless experience to host my events. The problem, venues had never utilized their event space in this way before, so my request appeared taboo.

Now fast forward to 2019, in the midst of planning my wedding, I wanted to find a venue that no one had experienced before. It took a total of 10 months before finding my venue on a beautiful outdoor rooftop connected to an industrial style (corporate office by day) venue in Orlando, Florida. Booking this event just proved that unique experiences are not packaged; they are built. Finding this space was not only a perfect match, but the booking process was digital and complete with a few clicks.

After experiencing the simplicity of booking this venue, all of my frustrations from the prior years of hosting events resurfaced as I thought, ” Why was this not my experience with all of the venues that I booked with for my networking events, and I wonder if other people are experiencing difficult booking processes.” Then, I started brainstorming and fell in love with the NEW Business Idea!

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Room University was born on February 29th, and the goal was to launch this summer, but then COVID-19 arrived and challenged all of our plans. We started to recruit, but our partners were afraid and losing their businesses left and right. It has just been horrible to see some very unique venues close down; if only Room University could have been LIVE prior to this, that additional revenue from hosting events could have been useful in some way.

I was starting to lose hope, especially since I found the perfect wedding venue, and then we had to postpone our wedding to May 2021. It does appear that restrictions are loosening, so we have started to recruit again with an expected launch of November 2020. Our goal is to recruit at least 300 businesses to list their venue before the end of this year.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Room University story. Tell us more about the business.
When you book a hotel, you have many marketplaces like and even AirBNB. Shouldn’t booking event spaces be as simple? I called my dad, a Sales and Retail Manager for over 30 Years for some insight as he always has the BEST BUSINESS IDEAS. Then it clicked, Room University would be the peer-to-peer marketplace to rent unique event venues. Both myself, Johnene McBeth and my father, Johnnie Benson, are both CEO and Co-Founder of Room University, a digital marketplace offering exclusive access to unthinkable event spaces. We are on a mission to influence the power of partnership and build solid trust within communities, as we make it simple to utilize any space.

Need to plan your event? Looking for an easier way to book a venue without the hassle that comes along with messy contracts, large lump sums of money and poor communication? You’re in luck. Want to host an event in your venue? You have the space, and you even have the control to host events when it works for your business. Connect with the professionals looking to make your space a part of their special occasions. List your space and start earning money now!

We want to partner with event spaces that offer a unique experience, such as corporate offices, car dealership lobbies and brunch cafes that may close in the evening. This way, venues are still generating income even when they are closed. The most exciting part is that Room University would be THE FIRST, black-owned venue rental marketplace in the WORLD. One of my personal goals in life is to make Black History so that my grandchildren’s grandchildren can see the evolution of their ancestors and take pride in who they can become, so it means something special.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
The late Chadwick Boseman said it best, “Purpose is an essential element of you. It is the reason you are on the planet at this particular time in history. Your very existence is wrapped up in the things you are here to fulfill. Whatever you choose for a career path, remember, the struggles along the way are only meant to shape you for your purpose.”

I do not believe in good luck or bad luck, but I do believe in expecting unexpected blessings. When things work out, that is my signal that this is what God wanted and when things to do not work out, this is my signal that He is protecting me from something that did not have my best interest, which allows me to prepare my mind for the next step.

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