Shoobs means party. It’s also a U.K. startup aiming to become Ticketmaster for local nightlife events. Wondering which hot DJs are coming to your corner of town soon? Shoobs wants to be the place you go to figure out where to direct your next set of dancefloor moves — and book tickets for the party.
But that’s only the half of this startup business. For nightlife events’ organisers, Shoobs provides a self-service platform to promote upcoming events, sell tickets and connect with clubgoers.
It’s aiming to replace old school promotional tactics of flyers pressed into the sweaty palms of dancers filing out of the club after a six-hour toe-shaking session. And paper tickets that have to be tracked down by ringing a promoter’s mobile number and meeting them on a street corner. Old school is the word.
The London-based startup, whose founder quit her job to go full time on Shoobs last September (having spent a few years working on it as a side project) is currently participating in the Y Combinator program. Shoobs’ demo day is coming up next week.
After graduating YC the startup will be on the hunt for its next tranche of funding to take Shoobs Statesids. So far it’s raised just under $100,000, all from YC and YC Ventures.
“Immediately our next priority is funding — we’re going to be looking at the expansion and plans for the business,” said Shoobs’ sole founder, Louise Broni-Mensah, who, as well as being a junior trader at UBS Investment Bank in her former wage-slave life, previously (in her spare time) managed a music artist — giving her an insight into the live events market that she’s clearly drawing on now.
Shoobs’ service is currently live in the U.K., with the majority of the events on the platform being London-based (it currently has 1,027 organisers signed up), but after being accelerated through YC, Broni-Mensah is keen to step things up. “I definitely want to expand this,” she told TechCrunch. “I have ambitions to take this to America so we want good financial backing to expand this to other areas.
“I’m out in the San Francisco area at the moment and starting to talk to event organisers here and in New York so we’re kind of saying ‘in the coming months’ [for a U.S. launch]… There isn’t a dominant player here [for the nightlife sector]… It will be great to see what happens post-demo day at Y Combinator.”
“As part of Y Combinator we get access to some amazing founders and get to hear first-hand accounts of their experience,” she added. “It’s made me think bigger in terms of the vision — and that’s why we’re pushing for this U.S. launch. I have global ambitions, perhaps more so than I did when I first had the idea back in London.”
Shoobs’ main online competitors are, well, nowhere near as fun-focused — with Broni-Mensah name checking veteran Eventbrite as one option promoters have sometimes used when they’ve attempted to switch from old school methods to online. Eventbrite is of course not focused on the nightlife segment, and is, she argues, far better suited to corporate events and meet-ups than club-based funtimes.
As for large established online ticketing platforms like Ticketmaster, Broni-Mensah says they also aren’t necessarily suited to the fast-flowing world of local nightlife events, where promoters may not have long lead times to shout about their event. Ergo, having a dedicated nightlife-focused self-service platform where organisers can quickly upload and manage content themselves makes more sense.
As for YPlan, another London startup which helps mobile users find cool events to go to and book tickets at the last minute — Shoobs stands apart by being a double-sided platform, rather than being just an event discovery app. Promotors use Shoobs to upload events, track and manage their info and interact with clubbers; while clubbers use it to figure out where to dance next.
Broni-Mensah said more than 100,000 tickets were sold via Shoobs last year. The business model is simple: the startup takes a 10% cut of ticket sales (or a £1 minimum).
Shoobs doesn’t currently have any mobile apps but that’s about to change, with a couple of apps due to land soon — next week or the week after, according to Broni-Mensah. One app will be for events organisers, allowing them to manage and track their events on the go; the other will be an events discovery app aimed at consumers.
The consumer-focused Shoobs app will factor in the user’s location in determining what events to suggest to them, but will also personalise content based on the user’s previously expressed preferences and their interactions with Shoobs’ platform — so events they have looked at, or booked tickets for, will help to inform which future events are pushed their way. That will also help the events organisers connect with the right audience via the platform, adds Broni-Mensah.
Asked why she decided to go desktop rather than mobile first, she argued from the clubgoer point of view there’s an element of planning that goes into deciding where to go out — and that’s ideally suited to being done during a day-time break on a work computer.
Beyond that, she was also keen to be more than just an event discovery app from the get-go. “My strategy has been I didn’t want to be another option for event organisers to promote, which I feel people who have gone the mobile route have,” she said. “They’ve become a purely mobile event discovery tool. And what I wanted to do, is I wanted to be a key part of their whole event management — so offering them that ticketing and promotion service.
“A lot of the promoters we’re working with at the moment, we’re working with them exclusively. We have brought them from the offline to the digital world. So we’re more than just discovery — which is what you’d maybe use an app for — we’re providing a key service to the organisers.”