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So it’s Friday afternoon and you’re looking forward to chilling out, broadening your horizons with new cultural experiences – or just plain beery fun. But where do you go to find trusted information about what’s on near you? If you’re in London, there’s a startup in London’s startup neighbourhood of Old Street that hopes your answer is Spoonfed. The model is a different approach on the local reviews angle Trusted Places, Qype, Yelp go for, as Spoonfed is driven by events not venues.

Spoonfed is a fairly simple idea that answers the timeless question of those seeking diversion: “What is there to do in this place?” The site pairs a comprehensive list of events in London backed by original editorial content, and complemented by a stream of user-generated content from an active and outgoing user community.

The kicker is that it’s location- and preference-specific; tell Spoonfed which parts of London you hang out in, give it a general idea of the types of entertainment you’re into, and hey presto, you’ve got a customised guide to upcoming events. You can also search by timeframe, to get an overview of what’s on today, tomorrow, or the next couple of days.

The social element of the site means if you decide to attend an event, you can tell your Spoonfed friends about it, and round up a thrill-seeking posse to descend upon whatever event has caught your eye.
The site launched officially in November 2008, following an 18-month long R&D phase, and has already hit the 100,000 unique user milestone thanks to a solid SEO strategy, word of mouth and social media marketing through Digg, StumbleUpon, Facebook and of course, Twitter.
Spoonfed founders, Alexander Will and Henry Erskine Crum, are both graduates of the London School of Economics. The pair networked their way through two rounds of angel funding totalling £477,000, which they say will be enough to take them to break-even and profitability in Q4 this year.

Their board is quite experienced: Kevin Eyres, MD of LinkedIn Europe is their chairman and mentor; other board members and advisors include Clive Jackson, founder and CEO of digital advertising/marketing agency Global Beach Media; Tarlton Parsons, CIO and operations director at Touch Group, and Paul Dolan, a former partner at Deloitte & Touche and currently NED at Swansea-based semiconductor manufacturer Purewafer Plc.

So we’ve got influencers with top notch experience in social networking, big brand advertising, B2B publishing and corporate governance backing a couple of 25-year olds who pitted their combined life-savings of £8,000 against the problem they and their friends shared — never being able to find high quality information about upcoming events across all of London (not just Soho, for example) from a single trusted source.

It speaks volumes about their confidence in Spoonfed’s revenue model, which includes the obvious – ticket sales, outsourced advertising – and the ingenious; leveraging their existing database and publishing framework and the relationships they’ve built up with events promoters over the years to offer an event marketing service that will let promoters maximise and manage a digital footprint. Henry says: “Our aim is not only to be the best events online listing service, but also to own the channels by which those event managers market to their target audience.”

However, a glaring omission in their launch is the lack of a mobile application, especially a native app tied to the GPS in many modern mobiles. However, they are working on this, aiming for a J@M client app for most popular handsets first (Nokia, Samsung, Sony Ericsson) before making an iPhone app available, though they intend to replicate ‘the iPhone experience’ across the board.


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