With over 5 million Twitter followers, UK actor/author Stephen Fry is the closest thing we get to an “Ashton Kutcher”, given that he has a big following and occasionally takes an interest in tech startups (sometimes a financial interest). But his choices are hit and miss. One was a startup which allowed you to put virtual post-it notes on websites… But his picks have improved and recently Yplan, a VC-backed startup with real execution credentials, benefitted from his largesse. Like HotelTonight, YPlan [iTunes link] is a way to book events (like plays, shows and concerts) via iOS mobile with literally a couple of clicks. And it’s going to come in handy for New Year’s Eve and other holiday events in the UK capital.
Founded by Viktoras Jucikas and Rytis Vitkauskas, YPlan provides handpicked London highlights and an ability to then book them, drawing on a team with experience at Time Out, toptable, Songkick and lastminute.com.
The smartphone app has already garnered $1.7 million (£1.06 million) from Wellington Partners and Octopus Investments and is very much part of this new wave of “effortless transactions” on mobile. Taxi apps like Uber and Hailo in London are educating user to the idea of a simple app, with credit card details plugged in, that can literally make your life easier.
In the U.S., there is WillCall, currently only available in SF. It’s a talented, small team and does web/mobile and general ticketing, but tends to focus on gigs and theatre rather than YPlan’s full range of events. There is also ScoreBIG, but it focuses only on sports.
Of course, YPlan’s ‘competitors’ are myriad. Time Out, for one. But the latter is an editorial business, not transactional, and mobile and bookings are an after-thought. Ticketmaster stops selling tickets online 24-48hrs before a show starts, so it’s not set up for the last-minute ticket market which is pretty big in a city like London. It’s also not really a mobile business. And whereas Groupon is focused on 50%+ discounts, their mobile offering has been stillborn.
YPlan’s other backers include Lastminute.com co-founder Brent Hoberman, Sherry Coutu (advisory board member at LinkedIn), Songkick’s Peter Read and Andy Philips of booking.com, Tom Hulme (IDEO), Gi Fernando (Techlightenment) and Robert Linney (Chemical Brothers) and Baltcap, a VC fund directed at the Baltic region.