For this morning's interview, we spoke with Scot Richardson, CEO of Los Angeles-based LaughStub (www.laughstub.com), which develops software which helps comedy clubs and others manage ticket sales, online marketing, and customer relationship management. LaughStub is backed by a number of notable angels in the Los Angeles area, including Mark Suster and Paige Craig.
What is Laughstub?
Scot Richardson: In a nutshell, we're a WordPress for venues. We started in the comedy industry, hence the name, but basically for venues, we have a website management tool so you can fire your web programmer. We provide a customer relationship tool, a way to market intelligently to customers, with full reporting functionality, and ability to run business and marketing reports like giving you the zip codes of where your purchases are coming from, marketing tools like auto-tweet, and email management and an auto-publishing platform to publish events to other sites like CitySearch and Eventful. Really, what it does is it allows a small venue--anyone with less than 500 seats--to handle everything from admissions, to reporting, to reporting, to accounting, to marketing, and customer relationships. For anyone that small, Ticketmaster doesn't make sense. Their fees are too high to put on a $15 ticket, and you don't need to pay for the technology to handle 30,000 people simultaneously trying to get assigned seats. For a small venue, it's overkill and overpriced.
How did the company start?
Scot Richardson: I spent the previous eight years as a live comedy promoter, which grew into a live comedy promotion company, the largest in the country, ComedyJuice. Our shareholders included Dave Chappelle, Sarah Silverman--you name it, we did shows with them. Because of that, we saw problems in the industry, because the technology was not there to succeed. So, I wrote the business plan and get investment behind it.
How did you get into the technology business?
Scot Richardson: I'm definitely the business side of the co-founders. My co-founder is Nasi Peretz, who is CTO of West Side Rentals, another LA company, and who also ran properties at USC for the business school and law school. He had the technology background, who I had initially hired and who I brought on as my co-founder, and who runs the technical side of the team.
So, how long has the company been around?
Scot Richardson: We started our product in the middle of 2009, and the product has been basically available since January of 2010. We've been live for around thirteen months.
Are venues finding this useful?
Scot Richardson: Yes, they've hired us, and we hope it's a good sign. The other competitors out there in the small venue ticket space are TicketWeb and Etix. The problem with one of those is, as a venue, you can build a beautiful website, and click to buy tickets--and you're on a completely different, branded site. I always ask the question, when I've brought a concert ticket, if I'm going to get an email from the venue, or from a Ticketmaster or Live Nation. Ticket companies have basically treated customers like they were theirs, and no the venues. But, venues are becoming savvier, and want to connect with fans via social media and email, so that they can allow customers to continue the buying experience on their site, and repurpose customer data for their own usage.
How is the company backed?
Scot Richardson: We've done two rounds of funding, both angel rounds. Some of the notable people in it are Paige Craig, Mark Suster--as an individual, Ken Ramberg, and a group of Tech Coast Angels. Ken sold Jobtrack to Monster. Neil Brennan, who is a comic who created the Chappelle Show, and is a comedy club owner, is also an investor. We've got a good group of local angels and people with business experience in the comedy industry.
Finally, what's next for you?
Scot Richardson: Music is. We are launching a music vertical, which is very similar to our comedy site. We currently reach 1.3 million comedy fans through our social media email list, we we think we can see the same in the music industry. We're building a platform for music, repurposing our existing product, and already have three music client venues, and expect we can grow into a much larger market than comedy.