Whats WillCall say?

As part of a goal to build up my passion presence I am going to give my thoughts on up and coming Start-Ups that I find interesting. I mostly find them through friends and blogs but if you have any suggestions I’d love to hear about them. Check out my thoughts on Whistle.

I’ve been wondering when the night life scene is going to meet mobile. If you are going to try and attack the after hours market you are going to have to have the “cool factor.” WillCall does a great job of starting of this trend with the live music scene, however this is just the first step towards tackling night life in general and not just music. 

What is WillCall?

“We think it should be a part of everyday life. Our mission is to make going to a show as casual as dropping by a bar for a drink or grabbing a cup of coffee. We measure the success of WillCall on the dance floor.” Basically WillCall is a social way to decide what show you’d like to go and see what is coming up in your city. Log onto WillCall and see what shows are playing, share this activity with friends and get them to join along. I like where this is starting but the next steps for this product are really interesting.

Funding wise, TechCrunch posted that WillCall had received $1.2M from the big names of Sean Parker, Coran Capshaw, Bruce Flohr, and John Frankenheimer. 

First Impression

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When I first jump on it is fun to check out what shows are playing in the area. There aren’t too many listed yet but with just starting out (only at the 1000+ downloads on the G-PlayStore) WillCall is a good way to get into your local music scene. In the future I would love to see WillCall have as many shows as SF Weekly. I’m really into the opportunity to have free show listed on SF Weekly as well. 

Having the opportunity to tip the artist is a awesome feature as well. If you really thinking about it, what kind of opportunities do attendees have to support local bands? I would bet that the nostalgic great feeling that people get after watching a show will entice them to donate. I was worried that WillCall would take a cut but they say that all proceeds will go to performers.

One point of concern is about WillCall becoming another HotelTonight. I mean, whats stopping people from using the app to find out about shows and then just going to the door or purchasing the tickets else where? I’ve been on HotelTonight before to search for a hotel that obviously willing to come down on price, called them up bartered a little bit, and got the same deal without having to go through HT. Better prices, less painful ticket processing, additional features (more below) will have to differentiate WillCall in the eyes of users. 

Website/App Design

Great looking app. Very HotelTonight like. You can scroll through the different shows easily and each one is visually appealing. The app has a dark color scheme going on to make you feel like you are getting ready for a fun night. Their promo video also shows a group of friends meeting up at the venue and taking shots to get ready for the show. Can you catch the night life drift?

I wish that there was a way you could sort by music type or price but I assume that once more shows get put on the docket that these options will come along.

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Ideas For Future Markets

I think that the night life market is waiting for an app to bring it into the mobile era. There are plenty of services that cater to the life of <8pm but no app has caught the cool card for late night. By starting off with live music WillCall is ready to make the move into the rest of the night life scene. 

WillCall isn’t selling the opportunity to see live music, they are selling the opportunity to have a great night. Live music is a small percentage of what is in the market for a great night. Some people don’t like the big loud crowds or expensive drinks. WillCall needs to make a move into the nightlife entertainment market. A couple other players, like Sosh are trying to tackle that battle, but there are no clear winners yet. 

I go out in the city a lot, so when I think about the app that I want to have on my phone I have plenty of ideas.

  1. I want an app that will make me feel special/exclusive about going to a bar, maybe for WillCall app holders only? Maybe even only for active WillCall holders.
  2. I want an app that will allow me to give drinks to friends.
  3. I want an app that will tell me where the dance party is going on without having to check it out before hand for myself (Upstairs Fiddlers Green is not bumping on Friday nights, only Saturdays).
  4. I want an app that will show me a map of the city with different dots about what events are going on.
  5. I want an app that will let users rate past events/locations so you can tell if it sucks or not.
  6. I want an app that will give me updates/promotions that each venue/bar is doing for that night (Electric Salsa on Saturday nights at The Makeout Room)
  7. I want an app that will allow me to invite friends to events that I’m going to.
  8. I want an app that will recognize when I’m close to one of their partner bars and then offer me a free drink if I share that I’m there with facebook/twitter.
  9. I want an app that is going to tell me where the party is at on random nights of the week (Nicks Crispys is packed on Tuesday nights).
  10. I want an app that will have a message board for everyone who has checked into a certain location for that night. Ex. Message board for everyone who has checked into The Make Out Room on a certain night
  11. I want an app that is going to allow users to take pictures of events happening a certain night all over the city. Late night I can scroll through these pictures (either news feed or preferably a map) and see what everyone else, friend groups, or public was up to that night. 

Where are the main players?

In terms of emerging markets, the night life scene hasn’t seen a lot of action yet. Its a tough market to jump into because it is very dependent on an evolving crowd/trends. What else?

  1. Not cool factor - The cool trend blows like the wind. There is always a 15 minutes of fame for an app, Draw Something, Words with Friends. The great apps make the transition from the “Nice to have” to the “part of my lifestyle” rhelm. Snapchat is currently trying to make that switch right now as well. WillCall will have to ingrain themselves in this spot.
  2. Networking factor - The market is too fragmented. Too many players either capturing too small of a market or trying to do too much at once. The reason why Venmo is taking off right now because everyone and their mothers are starting to use it. It would be interesting to see what a Venmo partnership would do for WillCall. Venmo needs the hip/nightlife scene and WillCall needs a user base. 
  3. People like the unknown - Honestly the psychology/mating ritual of the nightlife scene is really interesting. The public doesn’t want to have their night life scene preplanned out for them. (This takes all the surprise and wonder out of it. You put a ceiling on where your night could go.) Half of the allure of going out with your friends is the mystery of the unknown about “who could be out there?” If you already know everything about the event you are going to then it takes the fun out of it. How much less excited are you to open a present if you already know whats inside?

Final Thoughts: WillCall is trying to enter a tough market but is positioning itself nicely by starting small. Once they master operations with live music they’ll need to expand into other night life opportunities. All of this needs to be done carefully in order to not be a “discover events” app but rather a multipurpose experience app.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and have a conversation about what you think about WillCall. Reach out! @gregkamradt