According to the research firm IBISWorld, there are currently more than 65,000 event promoters in the U.S., most of whom have limited geographic reach. Even including the industry’s largest player, Live Nation Entertainment, the biggest companies in the space account for no more than a quarter of industry revenue, estimated to be $23 billion annually.
A new app, CrowdBuilder, plans to fully automate the process and do away with promoters entirely. The idea: to directly marry venues like restaurants, clubs and theaters with potential patrons who are given enticements to visit the space or event.
In its current iteration, hosts log in and create an event to which they want to attract a crowd. Meanwhile, patrons log in, view these different types of happenings, and create a menu of events that they’d like to attend. When there’s a match, patrons receive an SMS message (using a Cisco API) with either a free perk or even a small amount of compensation that would otherwise go to a promoter.
Given that CrowdBuilder was built just last night at our Disrupt Hackathon in New York, it has some kinks left to work out, including more advanced integration with LinkedIn and Facebook, which can give hosts some idea of who they are inviting to their venues, as well as enable friends to see which of their friends is attending a particular event.
It has some other challenges to overcome, too. CrowdBuilder would need to build out a two-sided marketplace, which is no easy feat. The app has competitors, including Eventbrite, the event ticketing company that cross-promotes the events its users are hosting. Not last, in what could be seen as either really good or pretty terrible news, many similar apps have come and gone in recent years.
Either way, the well-balanced team — including Nina Yang, a designer and iOS developer; computer scientist Irvin Cardenas (who has built a six-foot robot in the past and is at work on a modular humanoid at the moment); and Sharon Gai, a graduate student at Columbia studying knowledge management (she was here observing how enterprises might better organize their own hackathons) — seemed to have fun with it. You can check out their presentation below.