The goal: Bigger than Dick Clark
TV is the aim of New Year's Nation's ambitious growth plan.
Yogman works with consultants in each New Year's Nation host city to handle on-the-ground logistics. Last year, the party debuted in New York, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Dallas. This year, Detroit, Denver, Philadelphia and Seattle join in. (San Francisco is out.)
In his first year of business, Yogman has run into the kind of unanticipated obstacles that plague startups. In July he filed a lawsuit against the company he used last year for credit-card processing services and equipment, E-Tickets Software, seeking repayment of $97,073 that the company withheld from New Year's Nation's ticket-sales receipts. E-Tickets hit back with a countersuit seeking $131,131 in fees for allegedly unreturned equipment. The case is pending in U.S. District Court in Manhattan; each side is after payment plus punitive damages.
"This is something that monopolized my year and knocked me off the ground from the beginning," said Yogman, who says E-Tickets' equipment is in his lawyer's hands as they work through the legal dispute. "I've been working with one hand tied behind my back."
An E-Tickets executive involved in the lawsuit referred questions to the company's spokesman, who did not respond by press time.
Aside from the legal complications, Yogman is pleased with the results of his company's operations so far. Low-overhead marketing, including Google Adwords and a MySpace campaign, has expanded this year's ticket sales, and Yogman is optimistic that New Year's Nation will grow further in coming years. His vision is bigger than eight venues. Bigger, even, than Dick Clark.
The goal: A TV sensation
"I look at it like shooting a pilot for a TV show," Yogman said of the "NYN-TV" multi-venue broadcast, which will stream live over the Internet this year. "I hope that by creating an audience online this year, it will help me bring it to cable TV, and eventually network TV."
Learning from TV's tricks, Yogman is adding a reality-TV staple to this year's broadcast: each location will feature a confessional "What's my resolution?" camera. Guests and viewers will also be able to text New Year's wishes, which will be scrolled across the screens at the various locations.
Eventually, Yogman hopes to supplement ticket-sales revenue with sponsorships, but for now the company is running on investment dollars. This week is a critical one for the venture: Most people make plans for New Year's Eve during the week between Christmas and New Year's. Yogman seeds crowds by selling the first 100 tickets in each city for $100, a discount on the usual pricing (which varies by location but starts at $125) and a slight loss for the company. Another sales tactic is New Year's Nation's affiliate program, which allows social butterflies to recruit their friends and earn a percentage of the ticket fee.
That's how Ethan Baird, a 27-year-old Boston software developer, found the party last year: a friend of a friend. He attended the Boston event with a group of college buddies.
"It was great," Baird said. "We had a fantastic time, and I'm looking forward to hooking up with them - live and virtually - this year." Two of his friends will be at the Philadelphia party, three are in New York City, and the rest will attend in Boston.
Next year, Yogman hopes to add a six or seven more cities, a half-dozen satellite trucks and a time zone or two.
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