REVL: Jennifer Roebuck, Brandon Stephens and Aryn Hurst-Clark
Founded by three serial entrepreneurs, Event app REVL already has 140,000 events with over 600 brand partners, including the O2 and Wembley Arena
Tell us what your business does:
REVL is an events marketplace that brings consumers and event owners together to enable discovery and promotion. We have 140,000 events across 40,000 venues from 17 ticketing providers and 600+ brand-name partners, including the O2, Wembley Arena, Fuller’s, British Museum, Natural History Museum, and the V&A.
We’re pioneering the use of PLAYlists for events to help REVLers organise their favourite venues and performers and stay on top of when new events are announced and new tickets go on sale. The overall effect being that whether you want to find out about the quiz night at your local pub, or your favourite touring artists coming to town, you can easily find out on one app.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
Brandon: Jen and I began thinking about the idea when we kept missing out on festivals we wanted to attend. Like most people, we didn’t have time to research every event that was going on, and plan enough in advance to ensure we got tickets. What we needed was all of our events organized in one place, and suggestions personalized to our interests.
We were amazed that no one had taken the open platform approach to events which would enable a single app to house thousands of events, and enable this. So we decided we might as well provide the answer to a problem we and many other people experience.
How did you know there was a market for it?
We needed it ourselves – downloading one app for gigs, another for films and supplementing these with newsletters simply isn’t time effective. This doesn’t just affect consumers, but brands who don’t get the audiences they are looking for because it can be challenging for consumers to find out about them. Particularly when events platforms limit what they display to what they personally find the most interesting. It was this need that enabled us to partner with 600 large and small brands across the UK.
What were you doing before starting up?
Brandon: Before starting REVL I was in a number of Silicon Valley start-ups, and launched the burrito chain Tortilla. Jen, was the director of global marketing and ecommerce for French Connection. While Aryn was developing tech recruitment firm Bearing Partnership.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
Brandon: Personally it’s less about ‘running’ your own business and more about building products and businesses from scratch – seeing an idea transform from concept to something that people get enjoyment from is incredibly rewarding! Also, there’s tremendous creative energy and excitement in a start-up, and having grown up in Silicon Valley and worked in start-ups early in my career, in some ways it feels like it was an inevitable path.
Aryn: Most of my career has also been focused on starting and running companies focused in the recruitment space within technology.
How did you raise the money?
Brandon: We received private funding from influential individuals in the events sector as well as friends who are passionate about having new experiences, and believed in us and our vision of creating the ultimate events platform.
Describe your business model and how you make money:
We currently offer advertising and sponsorship opportunities for those brands who want to promote their events. In the future we plan to provide event hosts with the ability to show video previews of events, live-stream gigs, show line-ups of festivals, analytics about their events.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
In order to become the most comprehensive events platform on the market we needed content exhaustiveness. And the only way to do that was to build to make REVL an open platform for event broadcast and bring on a critical mass of partners across a range of interests.
To do this we needed to build a product with sufficient benefits to the partner that it would be worth their time to upload their event content. The concurrent efforts behind product development and business development were not easy!
What was your first big breakthrough?
Our first breakthrough was when our first few partners said ‘yes’. We knew there was a gap in the market from a consumer perspective, but the level of enthusiasm the partners had and the number of businesses keen to work with us was far greater than we anticipated.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Make sure there is a market for your idea, build a prototype and test it out. Work with people you trust and secure enough investment to carry you through the tough times. Whatever you are building, it takes three times longer, costs three times more and you’ll encounter roadblocks along the way.
Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
In five years’ time REVL will be the default event discovery and experience utility. Not just for the UK, but Europe, the US and beyond. We want to organise the world’s events and be the platform for the experiences economy.