When Thrillcall started in 2008 with three people collecting info on live music events, it had one goal in mind: Make sure people don’t miss the show. Six months after the company relaunched as a consumer mobile app, co-founder Matt Tomaszewicz says it has the same mission. But figuring out just how to execute took the startup five years.
Thrillcall’s iPhone app displays live music events on any given night, and includes how to buy tickets and any ticket offers from its partners. Today Thrillcall announces it now has show listings in every major US city and a total of 60 venue partners across Los Angeles, New York City and San Francisco, where it launched in February and is headquartered.
Back in 2008, it was Jambase and few other startups competing in the way of concert listings and reminders. Today, Jambase is still around, plus leading service Songkick and a bunch of competitors including newcomer Vybe, Bandsintown, GigLocator, and GigBeat.
“Everybody can do concert reminders, but people now turn to Twitter and say ‘I want to see a hip hop show in SF, [but] I don’t know who is playing and I want to get a ticket,'” says Tomaszewicz. “We saw mobile as where it was all going.”
Thrillcall didn’t always know what it wanted to be when it grew up. The startup began by collecting data on performers, venues, dates, and locations, then ran it through a scoring system, which initially hurt its breadth of concert listings but added accuracy. The founders considered being the TripIt for concert planning with maps to easily track where friends were located at a music venue. Then Thrillcall settled on a Kayak-like website to search artists, watch videos, listen to music, buy tickets and get reminders. Users were most engaged in buying tickets.
The company thought it’d hit a major milestone when concert ticket behemoth Live Nation/Ticketmaster approached it to use its data, but the partnership developed more slowly than expected. Tomaszewicz says ticket companies are highly protective of their venues, which also hold tickets. It’s a lesson that likely shaped Thrillcall’s strategy for the app, where both ticketing outlets and venues offer exclusive deals.
“Everyone in Silicon Valley wants to be disruptive, disruptive, disruptive. To work with the live music business, you have to be complementary,” says Tomaszewicz.
Tomaszewicz wouldn’t disclose user numbers, and it’s questionable whether enough people go to last minute shows to give Thrillcall traction. What sets Thrillcall apart is how it’s made in-roads within live music, an industry that will require digital marketing channels to promote shows and off-load tickets during sales slumps. Thrillcall gets a percentage of any ticket sales made through the app.
Thrillcall plans to extend exclusive ticket offers to three new cities in the fall, and Tomaszewicz says to expect a lot more curation within the app. The lean company of 20 full-time employees operates on seed funding and plans to raise institutional funding later next year.