Algorithms can’t tell you what to do tonight. You need a local who knows the scene, hears about all the events, and can tell you what’ll actually be fun. That’s why DoStuff hired over a hundred cool kids in cities across the country to power recommendations in its new event discovery iOS app. Hold on to your liver, it’s adventure time.
You might know the company from its media sites like SXSW favorite Do512 in Austin, DoTheBay, or DoNYC. Now the parent company DoStuff is uniting its fragmented properties into a single app where you can get the best event suggestions in 18 cities. They include LA, Seattle, Chicago, Boston, Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, Indianapolis, Louisville, Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria, Mexico, NYC, San Francisco, and Mexico City, but more are coming soon.
How To Fight The Loneliness
The DoStuff app is smartly designed to find you something to…do, but without overwhelming you with endless lists of sleazy club nights and lame community gatherings. While most other event aggregation apps force you to go through the chore of sifting out what’s good, DoStuff has real live humans handling curation.
Once you’ve picked your city, you’ll see a ranked stack of the day’s best events. Each stylish card includes critical information, and you can tap in for extensive details and links to buy tickets. If you’ve got a hankering for arts, music, food and drink, or sports, there are dedicated feeds for each. Lazy bums who won’t leave the neighborhood can browse a map view, and there’s a whole section of free events for culture-seekers short on cash.
Beyond straight-up event recommendations, you can also read through DoStuff’s editorial content like “12 Tiki Bars To Celebrate National Rum Day”, “Upcoming Comedy Shows Not To Miss”, previews of upcoming festivals, and ticket giveaways. Got a favorite haunt? DoStuff has whole venue calendars in its search feature. Plus you can follow your favorite artists so you don’t miss when they come to town.
Standing On The Shoulders Of Startup Corpses
“There’s probably been 87,000 companies that have tried to tackle this,” DoStuff’s founder and CEO Scott Owens admits. “Where we’re different is that we’ve become a part of the scene in those communities by partnering with people.”
See, DoStuff wasn’t trying to be an event app empire from the get-go. It started way back in 2006 in Austin, and didn’t expand until 2010. Now it’s raised a new $2 million funding round from Owen Van Natta, C3 Presents, and a bunch of event moguls, bringing it to about $3 million total. That gives DoStuff the dollars to put the feet on the ground necessary to win where everyone else failed.
The fact is that the companies perhaps best equipped data-wise to nail event recommendations just don’t care. EventBrite only makes money selling tickets to events on its system, so Owens says “they’re fighting against themselves if they surface other things.” He thinks similarly about Facebook. “It’s not in their DNA to be a part of a local community. They’re a platform.” Facebook knows where your friends are going, just not if where they’re going is any good.
I’m a big fan of Songkick, BandsInTown and WillCall for discovering concerts, but Owens points out that they “only get the ticketed events. They don’t get small pop-up shows that are often the most interesting. We do because of the human aspect.”
Replacing The Local Entertainment Section
What DoStuff lacks is the personalization of those platforms, but it’s a conscious choice. “When you go down the rabbit hole of personalization, you end up with way too many crappy events” Owens believes.
I see his point, but it’d be great if DoStuff could learn over time how much I’m willing to spend, where exactly I live, how far I’m willing to travel, and what kind of events I like. Then it could subtly massage the rankings without sending me to endless book signings because I went to one poetry reading. Owens says he’s open to that.
But precisely because it’s not personalized, DoStuff is poised to replace tired old broadcast media. “There’s nothing that represents the community now” Owens tells me. “The radio stations have fallen away as cultural institutions. The papers have fallen away.” Last year, San Francisco’s Bay Guardian weekly paper shut down.
Without the cost of printing on dead trees, DoStuff hopes to survive on a combination of revenue streams. It shows traditional ads from promoters hawking their events. There’s sponsored editorial content highlighting businesses, and sponsored events where brands foot the bill and DoStuff brings the crowd.
Event discovery is a graveyard. “It’s the stereotypical startup,” Owens laughs. “It’s almost a joke. But I think that shows there’s a clear need for it to be done well. You need bodies to do that.”