It’s in the middle of a $1 million funding round, but gig ticketing startup GiggedIn has also been on a major marketing offensive, generating 10,000 new Facebook Messenger contacts within a matter of months, and seeing growth in its user base of 20% month-on-month.

Launched in 2013 as a crowdfunding platform for events, GiggedIn changed tack to provide crowdsourced marketing campaigns for events, before finally landing on the subscription platform model in 2016. Based in Sydney, it launched in Melbourne in May 2016.

Offering subscription-based access to music events, clubs, comedy nights and cinemas, GiggedIn is designed to encourage people to get out to events they may not have previously known about, and also to shift more tickets, supporting event organisers and artists.

Founder and chief executive Edwin Onggo tells StartupSmart the mission is to “enrich people’s lives through shared experiences,” while also using artificial intelligence, algorithms and personalisation to help people find events quickly, book tickets and receive them seamlessly.

Last year, GiggedIn was focused on creating a great product, Onggo says. This year, it has focused on marketing, primarily through “investing heavily in Facebook”.

The team launched the startup’s Facebook Messenger bot capability just three months ago, and it now has more than 10,000 members on its messenger list. Effectively a chat-bot, the app provides “an instantaneous way we can have a two-way communication with our members,” Onggo says.

He calls the technology a kind of early artificial intelligence, with users giving GiggedIn information on where they’re located, the kind of events they like, and the genres of music, or other events, they prefer.

“We’re able to create different sequences or flows, if members message in and display interest to one specific thing,” he says.

“We’re able to send them communications based on the interests they’ve displayed.”

Through this and other marketing strategies, GiggedIn has seen a 20% increase in its user base month-on-month since the beginning of 2018, Onggo says. It now has over 22,000 subscribers.

According to Onggo, part of this success simply comes from the fact that GiggedIn’s users are millennials, who are “really active on social media”.

“It’s already a native experience for them,” Onggo says.

“Our members seem to be engaging at rates far superior to those on any other channel,” he adds.

Part of the crowd

Alongside its social media marketing drive, GiggedIn is also in the process of raising $1 million in funding.

The raise follows $500,000 in seed funding raised in 2015, with backers including BlueChilli Venture Fund, Blacksheep Capital, QUT Creative Enterprise Australia, Dominet Digital, Social Family Group and a number of individual angel investors.

This latest round is led by Artesian Venture Partners, plus previous investors and additional angel investors. Some $810,000 is already secured. The other $180,000, however, is being raised via crowdfunding, through VentureCrowd.

At the time of writing, with seven days left, the campaign had raised $19,000, from six investors.

“Equity crowdfunding is still in its early days but there’s a huge amount of potential in it,” Onggo says.

This form of fundraising can connect startups like GiggedIn to investment companies that might not have been on their radar before, and vice versa, providing an opportunity for “other people that normally wouldn’t have been in contact with us to join in the company and help take part,” Onggo says.

There are plans for a larger Series A round in 2019, but until then, the $1 million will be pegged for more marketing, with a continuing focus on social media.

“We’re doubling down on the marketing, and accelerating the trajectory,” Onggo says, “it’s the strategy that’s proven to be repeatable and effective”.

Know your audience

For GiggedIn, the use of social media for marketing, and for engaging with subscribers, is all part of a wider strategy of empathising with customers and understanding what they want from the product.

Frustrated with the number of unsold gig tickets, and looking for events to attend himself, Onggo set out to solve a problem that was affecting him, as a customer. This “was of massive benefit”, he says.

But still, he stresses the importance of getting to know the customer — he spent time on the phone to them, met them face-to-face and ran focus group evenings with beer and pizza.

Part of this is being changeable, Onggo says. One of the biggest lessons he learnt was “to be really passionate about the problem that you’re wanting to solve but not necessarily attached to the solution.”

While GiggedIn has always focused on solving one problem, it had to change the way it approached the solution.

“In order to do that, you need to develop a close understanding of the customer,” he says.

For GiggedIn, this means understanding the needs and habits of millennials.

“We have been working with millennials from the very beginning,” Onggo says.

Through social media, startups can generate real-time feedback and two-way communication,

“They’re really active on socials and they’re very opinionated,” he adds, but they’re also “very influential … they’re the cool kids that are abreast of what’s happening”.

This article originally appeared on Smart Company. Read the original here.

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