First of all, let me disclose the obvious: these people are my competitors. It’s probably in my best interest to make them look silly. At the same time, we decided to enter this market in large part BECAUSE our competitors had major issues, so take that as you will.
Historically, event discovery sites have been plagued with problems. These problems vary by individual company, but I think most of them fall into two categories: Too Big and Too Small.
Services that are Too Big: Eventful, Eventbrite, New York Times
There’s nothing inherently wrong doing event discovery on a massive scale- that’s what we’re going for, after all. But when sites get this big they tend to run into the issue of information overload. When users try to use one of these services to discover events, they end up drowning in a sea of “noise.” For example, Eventful claims that there are 1,938 events going on today in New York City (today is a Wednesday).
There are really only 30 or so going on that a user might care about. What are the other 1,908 listings? Broadway shows that have been on every night for years. Art installations that can be seen all day, every day for the next 6 months. Expensive seminars for things you probably don’t care about. And worst of all- advertisements for things that aren’t even events. Take a look at the picture above for one of many glaring examples- Eventbrite lists 7 “events” for today that are all hair replacement ads.
I’m sure that the fine people at Eventbrite wouldn’t be happy if they knew that anti-balding ads were making it difficult for their users to find real events. Unfortunately for them, it seems like they’ve reached a size where they no longer have control over their largely crowd-sourced listings. Then again, they probably don’t even care, because they make their money on providing ticketing services, rather than as a discovery platform.
The endless stream of useless listings wouldn’t be an issue if users had a great way of sifting through them, but sadly at this point they don’t.
Services that are Too Small: Everything else
Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration- there are many hyper-local blogs that do a pretty good job at finding cool events for people in their area. However, they are tied to a local area, and mostly rely on tracking down these events by hand. If you can track down a good one in your city- awesome! For the right reader, they can guide you to a handful of interesting events… in a certain niche. As far as I know, nobody has yet figured out how to make the transition from cool local niche blog to major event-discovery business.
Non-cliche ending paragraph
This is part where I’m supposed to rant about all the reasons why we are better than everybody. And we are! But this post is about the problems in the industry, not how cool we are. Our solution for doing everything better gets to stay a little secret between us and our investors. I’ll share the details in my March 2015 interview with Forbes. Until then, enjoy TonightLife.