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Entertainment, like transport, is integral to any major city’s attractiveness to its citizens and tourists. And while we’ve seen some truly disruptive (read:Uber) and innovative startups entering the transport sector, entertainment in South Africa and emerging markets, for the most part, has not changed too much in the last few years in terms of event discovery and ticket purchasing.
While there are some players facilitating mobile payments for goods at events, event discovery still largely relies on traditional avenues such as nightlife guides and brochures.
Enter Pocketplan, a mobile event discovery app founded by ex-Rocket Internet members Martin Mygind and Fabian Kast, who wanted to simplify the way in which people find out about events happening in their city and provide them with a way to pay for, and store, tickets to those events.
The app focuses on simplicity. Events that show up in your ‘feed’ are only happening within the next 72 hours, so you aren’t bombarded with a plethora of information. Instead users can personalise the types of events that show up in the app. So if one user only wants to see food-related events, and another only wants to see nightlife, they can filter the app accordingly.
Pocketplan’s model is very similar to a London-based company called YPlan, which received funding within its first year. Pocketplan believes this model will work well in SA because not only is there a gap for this kind of application — one that can find you something to do, and allow you to book for it right there and then — but because its mobile play suits the country’s infrastructure.
The idea behind the app was brewing for a while in the minds of its founders, but coding only started in August 2013. After a soft launch for friends of friends to test the platform in January 2014, Pocketplan officially went live, with Cape Town as its first city, in March this year.
Since then it has expanded its offering to Johannesburg as well as Bogota in Columbia, where the company has a team of five people. Cape Town serves as the company’s main office though, with a team of 15. The company has received seed investment from a local entrepreneur but is currently seeking Series A funding in the US and Europe.
Buying tickets in the app means that users have a clear history and cache of the tickets they have purchased. Getting into a show simply means opening the app and showing your digital ticket at the entrance. Tickets also sometimes come with exclusive perks thrown into the mix, such as a discounted price, skipping the queue, or a free drink at the door.
Working with various partner-establishments, such as Cape Town’s SEED Experiences (Rocking the Daises), Ramfest, The Assembly, and The Side Show Pocketplan reserves tickets for events up to three weeks in advance, which means that even though users are only seeing events within 72 hours, they are still able to get tickets to high-demand events. In this light Pocketplan could be seen as a last-minute marketing tool for venues, which is particularly handy when events have not sold out.
Kast tells Ventureburn that Facebook is a great way for people to find out about events, but it doesn’t provide any kind of quality or filtering. Pocketplan (which integrates with Facebook) works with local curators, or “influencers”, such as DJs, chefs, athletes or artists, who know what’s what in their industry. These curators handpick the events listed on the app.
Pocketplan’s revenue is generated by taking a percentage on every ticket sold through its platform, with this percentage varying from partner to partner depending on the type of ticket bought. Pocketplan tells Ventureburn that this percentage can range from as little as 5% up to 50% of the ticket price.
Since launching, Pocketplan has had 15 000 active users in South Africa, with 5% checking the app every morning when they wake up. About 50% of users are checking the app every 10 days.
Even though Pocketplan has its foot firmly planted in ticket sales right now, it notes that it has options in terms of expansion, working with any potential partner connected to events, and building something around those partners. For example it could look into offering an exclusive car service (in partnership with a transport startup) when you buy your ticket for a show.
Pocketplan’s city-centred model means that it focuses on operating in only the biggest cities in each country it has a presence in. In this light there are no immediate plans to expand further into South Africa, but rather Asia is in the company’s sights.