According to Brandon Stephens, the founder of the £25.3 million Tortilla restaurant chain, there’s an app for everything — except for events.
“When you think of photos, you think of Instagram. When you think of venue reviews, you think of TripAdvisor. When you think of video, you think of YouTube. All of those are super-successful open platform content aggregation [sites],” Stephens told Business Insider.
However, he said that while “tonnes of people” have tried to do the same thing in the event space, in 2017, still nobody has cracked it.
Enter REVL, the UK’s biggest events discovery app which disclosed £2.4 million in Seed funding earlier this year.
It officially launched in January, with version 2.0 released earlier this month, bringing users personalised updates on over 53,000 events, 46,000 venues, and 38,000 performers from over 500 brand partners including Universal Music and the Royal Albert Hall.
They’ve also partnered up with the UK’s top music festivals to provide lineups and maps, as well as video previews of events.
Signing up on the app — using email or a social media login — allows users to select their interests, and add their favourite pubs, musicians, art galleries, and comedians to “playlists.” They’ll then receive notifications based on relevant events close to them.
They can also “favourite” events, venues, and performers they like, with the idea that the app will eventually be able to make recommendations to them. “Ultimately, what users want is to pick up the app and have it tell them what they should do today, tomorrow or on a given date,” Stephens said. “This is the next phase for REVL.”
Users can search by keyword, category, location, and time frame, or be inspired by the app’s recommendations to build a constantly updating news feed and calendar of events.
76% of its users are outside of London, so it applies to events across the country.
“The idea is to get hyper-personalised using the idea of a playlist, where you can put in all of your [favourite] venues, comedians, musicians,” Stephens said. “You can even scan your music so we can see what you like on Spotify and give you a list of musicians and render all of the events going on with them.”
Users can also follow other REVLrs — including brands, artists, and bloggers — to see who they’re following and check out their playlists.
REVL is targeting FOMO — the Fear of Missing Out.
Stephens, who grew up in Silicon Valley and moved to London to attend the London Business School in 2003, said that in 2010, he was sitting in front of his TV watching a festival. A year later, he saw the same festival again, and said, ‘How did I not know about this?'”
He immediately subscribed to Time Out and started downloading apps, but said there was no single place to tell him everything that was going on.
“There’s currently no go-to place that has organised all of the events that are going on in the UK, much less in the US, Canada, or anywhere around the globe,” he said.
Stephens said despite the success of Time Out, their site “filters things based on curation.”
“They’re not going to have your local pub’s trivia night because it’s not interesting to most of their consumers,” he said.
“I literally wanted to be able to put in all my local pubs, my three local cinemas, the galleries, comedians, and musicians I like and just know about every single event that’s going on.” He said was looking for something that appealed to the “Fear of Missing Out,” or FOMO, concept.
He managed to persuade Jennifer — who has previously worked for the likes of Nectar, Orange, and French Connection — to join him in the project, as well as co-founder Aryn Hurst-Clark, the founder of tech recruitment firm Bearing Partnership.
It was then that he stepped aside from his day-to-day role at Tortilla, where he is still a board member.
“When I left Silicon Valley I thought, ‘I can’t wait to get out of technology,'” he said. “When I left Tortilla I couldn’t wait to get back into technology.”