Impressed as I was by the success of online ticket seller Eventbrite, a recent announcement by WillCall then triggered my interest. WillCall is a San Francisco based-startup which started off by sending users in the San Francisco area a push notification about discounted tickets or VIP packages a few hours before a concert was due to start.
“A pretty easy way to see more shows” is WillCall’s main strap line and that is exactly what their Android and iOS apps seem to be providing for. As WillCall founder Donnie Dinch explains on the WillCall blog, the main problem they are trying to solve is “how to connect willing and excited people, using a mobile phone, to the greatest local shows, concerts and social events in town.”
I can imagine that people reading this might be thinking that they have seen this all before or that WillCall is not going to upset the likes of Live Nation in a million years. However, these are the main things that differentiate WillCall in my view:
- Event discovery – I believe that any form of discovery, be it content or events, is a hard one to get right one. WillCall is trying to crack this by handpicking shows that they think are likely to be popular and cut deals with the hosting venues. 48 hours prior to an event, a WillCall user will receive a message with a number of events to pick from, including info on friends attending and any special deals (e.g. discounts or the ability to jump the queue).
- Push notifications – WillCall’s messages are push based which means that users will get automated notifications well in time for an event. The only risk with such push notifications is that subscribers can eventually get fed up, treating these alerts as spam.
- Tailoring notifications – I don’t think WillCall currently enables its users to set preferences for the types of notifications they wish to receive, and I’m not sure if their competitors Thrillcall or Sosh do either. I guess the extent to which a service like WillCall can customise the push notifications one receives (e.g. by genre, area or venue) will play an important role in its long-term success.
Main learning point: the problem that WillCall is trying to solve is clear: helping artists/venues/promotors with those shows that don’t get sold out. As a user, the main added value comes from attractive last-minute deals and from discovering new events. In addition, the ‘social’ element of being able to see who of your friends are going to a gig should not be underestimated. Definitely a service with a lot of potential; don’t be surprised if the likes of Live Nation or Ticketmaster jump into this niche very soon!
Related links for further learning: