Pando

There is a market for every idea: Tablelist is banking on the VIP nightlife and DJ scene

By Dennis Keohane , written on July 7, 2015

From The Party Desk

Tablelist allows users to reserve VIP club experiences -- private tables, bottle service, and even access to prominent DJs. Today the company has announced $2.5 million in funding from a range of investors with experience in the hospitality and entertainment industry, and also from Wayne Chang, Twitter’s head of product marketing for its mobile platform.

Chang has long been an investor in Tablelist -- he played a significant role in its $1.5 million seed round -- and is participating in this round as a follow-on for the AngelList BOSS Syndicate round he led. As part of the initial syndicate deal, which also included Streetwise Media and VentureApp CEO Chase Garbarino, Accomplice (formerly Atlas Venture) participates with a minimum of $250,000.

Although Tablelist serves a very niche market -- folks who frequent clubs and are accustomed to premium experiences like bottle service, reserved and private sections, and VIP treatment -- there have been 70,000 downloads of its app so far, which mainly serves New York and Boston. If that seems like a small number of users, you should take into account that the services Tablelist offers are for a very specific consumer base: affluent club goers who have no problem sometimes paying as much as $30,000 on a Saturday night out.

Last month, between New York City (along with the Hamptons) and Boston, Tablelist processed $600,000 in transactions alone through its website.

“I think people are going to be shocked,” Jung told me. “I don’t think a lot of people realize how much money there is in this industry.”

For the rest of the year, Tablelist plans to roll out its services in other cities like Miami, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas, where it is already operating on a smaller, beta scale. It will look to expand and leverage a partnership with Yelp that has also gone pretty far under the radar. Currently, if you look up the top nightlife spots in certain cities, Yelp will offer the chance to book a table through Tablelist. One example I found was for the Maurquee in Vegas, with some tables being offered for $3500.

And the company is making a push even further into the space, adding new offerings to its platform all the time.

Earlier this year, the company acquired Privie, a nightlife discovery app that allowed users to book a space in clubs, especially ones that featured popular DJs. According to founder Julian Jung, Tablelist made the move to add Privie so that it could establish itself as the Ticketmaster for DJ events. In addition to being a way to reserve a spot at exclusive events, the company also works to help well-known artists -- like the two-time supposed “World’s Best DJ” Hardwell -- book exclusive access to shows.

Mind you, this is not my area of expertise, but running through Tablelist’s blog, it seems as if the company has established partnerships for some pretty impressive performers and celebrities. I don’t know anything about White Girl Rosé, but Jung assured me that the launch Tablelist is having in NYC is a big deal because everyone involved is an Instagram star -- which is a thing in 2015.

That said, if Tablelist really wants to thrive, Jung, who founded the company while he was a senior at Boston’s Northeastern University, should probably shed some twenty-something immaturity and differentiate what’s good for Tablelist and how to maintain cachet in the industry it serves. No startup is going to make it for too long with a featured “Bottle Girl of the Month” on its blog.

Still, while it would be pretty easy to make fun of a company that is for booking tables at clubs and say that Tablelist is another sign of the bubble apocalypse, Jung has built a pretty sound lifestyle business targeting a demographic that has no problem burning through disposable income.

If the tech bubble does burst, the ultra-rich probably won’t be affected that much. There will always be a class that will need a way to flaunt their wealth and try make you and your buddies -- who ended up at a Vegas club for a bachelor party -- feel like the peons they will always think you are.

And Tablelist will be there to happily take their money.