The founders behind iOS and web app Beatguide epitomise turning a passion into a business. Fittingly located in Berlin, the heart of the electro music scene, the Beatguide team can easily switch between aggregating events into their electro-only guide and going to them…
We caught up with cofounder Brendon Blackwell to find out why he doesn’t want funding just yet and why exactly we should consider Beatguide a mashup of SoundCloud and Resident Advisor.
Founders Stefan Baumschlager, Tino Ehrich and Brendon Blackwell
Hi Brendon, can you give a bit of background on what you do?
Hi, I am one of three cofounders of Beatguide, a music event platform for electronic music that provides rich media content – it’s like a multimedia flyer. So people can feel more emotion about an event when they go on the platform – especially the music. It’s a two-way street: the events promote the artist’s music and the music promotes the events.
Artists can sign up with their SoundCloud accounts so users can get a preview of the kind of music being played at an event. In the long run, we’re hoping to get all players on board – including labels (which would make their own profiles), artists, venues and promoters in more unseen roles. We want to encourage people to organise events on our platform.
Who are the founders and how did you get the idea for Beatguide?
I was working at a Facebook gaming company as a designer, web developer and project manager. But I didn’t relate to gambling and I don’t play games on Facebook, so I decided to quit and only do things I like – which is how I came to Beatguide.
The startup has been around for about two years, one of my cofounders Timo Ehrich started it for himself. He had a problem when he went out in London – he didn’t know what events were happening and everything was so expensive. None of the event guides really told him what the event was like inside; the text sounded fantastic and descriptive, like it’s a fantasy inside, but he still really had no idea what he was paying £40 for.
So he started an event platform to solve this problem… It was always a side project until this year. Stefan Baumschlager came along later. He doesn’t work full time on the project, as he’s working as Head of European Partnerships at Rdio.
What makes you different from everyone else?
We tweeked the idea of Beatguide to make it really simple but still unique. Artists always want to promote their events and their music. But no platform offers a place to promote both. The best way to sum it up is SoundCloud meets Resident Advisor. It’s especially useful for tourists: lots come to Berlin and think they’re going to get into Berghain and don’t and then have no idea what they’ll do because they don’t have a computer but want to experience the crazy Berlin electro. That’s where we come in.
It’s not about venues, it’s about events. So we will be able to cater to open airs and warehouse parties too.
How do you aggregate the events?
At the moment it’s handpicked, we sign up to lots of newsletters, go over Facebook and basically pick what we like… We don’t want to overcrowd people with too much choice. For an event to be picked it has to have a live DJ, electro music and be an event we would like to go to ourselves.
Will you stick to electro?
We made the decision to only do electro music right at the beginning, just because that’s what we like. I see the benefit of an event platform like ours for all genres of music, but I’m not interested in that. I think it’s unlikely we’ll branch out.
What features are you planning on introducing next?
We want to make it easy to put open airs in the program. We want to introduce groups for this, as lots of open airs want to stay a bit underground. If they’re in groups, they can survive in the system without being brought to the top so they’re ruined in a matter of minutes by too many people showing up.
We also want to let users add a pin drop to show where they are, so people can find the open air. And in the future, they’ll be able to write comments and pictures, but that’s not in yet. It’s not the priority right now.
We’re considering intergrating with Facebook but I’m not sure if we should connect with it. Although it makes it easier to get events, you loose control over the content.
What is your business model?
Good question. At the moment we’re striving for growth. We have 16 cities in mind we want to reach as our first big milestone, plus getting all the people in the scene involved, like promoters, DJs, venues. Then we’ll look at some kind of monetisation strategy.
Mobile ticketing is the most obvious choice – in Berlin it’s not that lucrative, as that’s just not how Berlin works. But in London and Ibiza it’s very lucrative – we’ll have to have different strategies for different cities. Berlin is the home of electronic music, if you don’t make it here you may as well pack up your bags and go home. I’m not sure if we’ll be able to monetise much here. It’ll always be more of a thing I made for me.
We are all coders. We promised ourselves we’d code until we had it done, and then we would deal with all the business stuff we hate. So build a product and then a company – that’s totally reverse to most startups who have an idea but no developers and run around trying to get funding off a piece of paper. We want proof by product, there’s no point talking to investors or SoundCloud with just an idea.
Who is financing you?
We received seed financing from Stefan Baumschlager, which will last a few months. We’re open to more funding, but at the moment we’re really focusing on the product. In the next three months we will be doing solid development, so when we have more stuff to prove with, we’ll start looking for money.
Where will you be in a years time?
We want to be global, in at least 16 metropolises, and making revenue. We’ll expand to London next, then Amsterdam, Barcelona and Ibiza – we already have people there doing research and handshaking. Plus, in a years time we’ll have our Android app out and our first round of funding.
Finally, I have to ask this: As an expert on the electro scene, what’s your favourite Berlin club?
Has to be Berghain. The secret is go early on a Saturday night, get your stamp, then go home and sleep and get up nice and fresh and go then.
party confetti: Flickr user @MSG
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Addicted to bass? Meet the events app dedicated to Berlin’s electronic beats