After five years at investment bank UBS 25-year-old Kevin Jochelson figured it was time to go out on his own.
He had an idea: make finding events anywhere in the world simpler. It’s a service he struggled to find when travelling through Asia and working at UBS in Hong Kong.
“In Hong Kong I didn’t even know where to begin searching for an event,” he said.
“Hong Kong didn’t use the same event guides I used in Sydney and didn’t use any of the same ticket selling sites.
“When I went to China I had to contact friends to find out what was on because I didn’t speak Chinese or know what was a reputable venue to see an event at.”
After more than a year of development and several months in a private beta version Jochelson launched Fiestafy just in time for the Christmas holiday period.
Fiestafy is a free web app that allows travellers and locals to find events anywhere in the world, in their own language.
The site has already struck partnerships with TicketMaster in the UK and works with the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney and is looking at bringing on a few more businesses as it pushes into the US and Asian markets.
The site’s main versions are in English and Chinese. Jochelson said with the influx of Chinese tourists into Australia, it’s one of the fastest growing sources of tourists for the country, that’s where he wants to focus.
His goal is to be the Expedia for major events. The site uses similar technology to ones that help users find flights or hotels.
But it’s not just a solution for travellers and expats. Fiestafy is also an advertising solution.
“During our early days of validating the product we realised that there’s this dark cloud overshadowing the entertainment industry. Entertainment marketing is synonymous with huge billboards and in today’s digital age that form of marketing isn’t measurable or effective anymore,” Jochelson said.
“Event companies are spending tens of thousands of dollars on huge billboards and other traditional advertising like fliers, and still aren’t able to decipher what’s successful and what’s not. And when their events sell out they’re paying for wasted advertising every minute their advertising remains up, promoting to people who can’t attend their events, which is just the worst!”
To date Jochelson has bootstrapped the company but he told Business Insider he’s looking to raise about $500,000 in funding this year from investors.
“Coming from a banking background you understand why and when people would want to invest in you,” he said.
“When I’m happy to put more money in that would be the right time.
“It doesn’t cost a lot of money to create a startup, it costs a lot to run a business.
“Being a startup and bootstrapping definitely keeps you awake at night. It’s not easy, you’re definitely watching your figures all the time.”
Not many startups have the luxury of taking almost two years to build and launch a product — many would run out of puff if they didn’t get a minimal viable product out the door after a few months.
Jochelson said initially he had planned for the site to be up and running at the start of 2014.
“We were in a beta version for quite a long time. I’m a perfectionist. In the tech scene everyone talks about getting a minimal viable product out as soon as possible but when you’re servicing business clients you want a polished product,” he said.
“You don’t want to go to market with a product that fails. You want to make sure you’re giving people what is somewhat you’re best offering.
“A lot of startups will say lets validate the users side and if we get enough money we’ll figure out how to make it. From my perspective it was always about validating that revenue side first.
“From here we’ll add more features and keep making it better.”
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