“We’re not trying to be the best way to buy last minute tickets. We’re trying to be the best way to buy tickets”, says Donnie Dinch, founder of WillCall. That’s why today’s it’s launching a web version of its event ticket purchasing mobile app, plus adding more shows and cities with the $850,000 it just raised as part of a seed round from SV Angel, 500 Startups, RRE Ventures, RSE Ventures and several angels.
Previously, WillCall would send San Franciscans a push notification about discounted tickets or VIP packages a few hours before a cool concert started. But now the 500 Startups company will give you a head up on shows and which friends are attending up to 48 hours ahead of time. And it plans to have events listed every night so you’re never bored at home again.
Here’s how WillCall works. The startup hand-picks great events, cuts deals with venues for discounts or packages that include free drinks or the ability to skip the line, and delivers them via push just as you’re trying to plan your evening.
I’m a rabid event goer, hitting rock concerts, gallery openings, DJ sets, or the theatre practically every night, and I’ve found WillCall very useful. So have my less adventurous friends and 3000 other users who open each notification. The only problem was that there were only shows a few nights a week, and there was no easy way to preview a show’s artist beyond the provided text description.
That’s about to change thanks to the new money that almost completes WillCall’s seed round. Dinch tells me his company had its choice of investors but went with SV Angel, 500 Startups, RRE Ventures, RSE Ventures ( the largest limited partner is the owner of the Miami Dolphins), plus angels Garrett Camp (co-founder of Uber and StumbleUpon), Steve Jang (co-founder of Soundtracking, formerly at imeem), Josh Spear (co-founder at UnderCurrent), and Christian Lawless.
The cash will help WillCall negotiate deals with venues to get blocks of tickets to all their upcoming shows including the most popular ones, not just those that don’t sell out. That means there’s more likely to be shows for sale every night. It’s planning launches in one to two more cities this year, with New York and LA as its next destinations. Finally it’s putting out a web app with quick links to samples of an artists music so you can be sure you’ll dig the show.
Considering how often people wonder “what am I doing tonight?”, there seems to be a ripe opportunity for WillCall. Others like Sōsh and the unfortunately named Thrillcall are also vying for the event discovery market, but they’re more bloated and less focused on curation.
WillCall’s strength is that it doesn’t force you to wade through dozens of choices. It’s like your cool friend that always knows what’s up. You just follow along, and suddenly you’re having fun.