With a cool $1.8 million in hand, courtesy of its newly closed seed financing, online event space marketplace Eventup is thinking beyond venue discovery and booking services. It is also announcing Chicago as its newest market.
The company’s newly added investors include Chicago-based firms Lightbank and New World Ventures, as well as the Bay Area’s NEA and LA-based Crosscut Venture Partners. These firms add some serious Internet marketing and community building pedigree, not to mention some financial muscle.
Lightbank is a product of Groupon co-founders Eric Lefkofsky and Brad Keywell. Crosscut partner Brett Brewer is the founder and former CEO of MySpace parent Intermix Media, as well as the current CEO of the Intelligent Beauty diet system ecommerce company, Sensa. Add to this mix, New World Ventures partners and backers, Hyatt Hotel heirs JB and Tony Pritzker, and Eventup isn’t hurting for winning allies.
The company has taken in a wealth of feedback and learnings in the last four months, since launching publicly. CEO Tony Adam is the former director of online marketing for MySpace, but says “I have had to learn the DNA of the events industry.”
And now? “It’s all about removing friction,” says Adam. “We’re taking everything that’s manual in the process of booking a venue and deciding what to automate. One big area we’re focusing on is how we can help the customer in regards to negotiation.”
“We really want to be a destination within the event space” he adds. “In addition to a listing and booking service, we want to to provide all kinds of content. This could include things like how-to guides, infographics, and checklists targeting everyone from DIY (do it yourself) individuals to corporate marketers.”
In addition to content, he plans to explore offering complementary services such as photography, DJs, and flowers. Eventup already recommends preferred event planners based on the venue chosen by its customers.
Adam says his company will use the capital infusion to grow its team of 10 and to double down on product development. In anticipation of closing the financing, he has already hired a marketing coordinator. He also plans to add design and a front-end development expertise.
One of his more interesting revelations was the plan to open up APIs in the near future. This comes on the heels of the company’s recently announced partnership with social activity discovery marketplace Lifecrowd.
Finally, Adam confirmed that the company plans to expand in the coming months beyond its current cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, and now Chicago.
With this financing in hand, Eventup is “graduating” from the Science Inc. technology studio where it launched and grew under the watchful eye of former MySpace CEO Mike Jones. “It’s been an extremely valuable experience,” says Adam, “and we’ll still have weekly meetings with Mike, who’s on our board. But we need our own space. We have people hanging off the end of desks.”
Adam also plans to keep in touch with the CEOs of other Science companies through lunches themed around “conversion optimization” or “email marketing,” which they have already begun having.
The company’s early focus of building out portfolios of unique event venues in multiple cities was a bit too much of a block-and-tackle business. While this will be a component going forward, it has laid a strong foundation with 3,000 plus unique venues in four major US metros and can now direct more focus toward building its user base, adding more services, and generally building value.
With financing in hand, a clear direction charted, and a roster of capable investors and advisors assembled, Adam and his team have nothing left to do but execute. That’s never stopped anyone before, has it?