Eventful serves up what's on
The race for the White House is helping this startup gain traction; a look at how it plans to keep the momentum going.
LONDON (CNNMoney.com) -- Since start-up Eventful.com came on the scene in 2004, it's steadily been living up to its name.
Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards used the site to launch a competition for his supporters, and it has become an indispensable tool for artists in the shifting world of digital music.
As its name suggests, San Diego-based Eventful is all about events. Not sure what to do Friday night? Go to the site, type in what you're interested in doing, or browse by category, and presto - you get scores of listings going on where you live.
Besides being just a place to list and search events, users can use a "demand" feature on the site to give feedback on what types of events they want to come to their town.
CNNMoney.com caught up with Eventful chief executive Jordan Glazier to discuss where the site's going and how it plans to drive revenue beyond online advertising.
CNNMoney.com: What was the idea that got Eventful started?
Glazier: It really stemmed from the desire to help people discover, track and share events. (Founder) Brian Dear and I crossed paths at eBay (Charts, Fortune 500) and he set up the site in 2004. (Glazier joined the site last year.)
Events was an odd segment of content that had been overlooked by the Internet until Eventful. It's about not only showing people what's scheduled to go on in town but also about giving them a say in what they'd like to see.
Q: The site seems to have been hitting its stride recently, with several candidates in the 2008 presidential campaign using it to connect with supporters. What sort of growth have you seen?
A: We've recently reached the 2 million user mark and we're adding about 100,000 new users a week.
Q: The service is free to users and performers, so how do you intend to make money? Is online advertising going to play a big role?
A: If you look at our site, you won't currently find any advertising. That's because we wanted to keep the site clean as we built up a critical mass. We'll slowly be introducing advertising, but we have some different revenue streams we're looking at.
Q: Can you talk about some of those plans?
A: One of those is sponsorship - what I've seen as a trend, and not just specific to Eventful, is that brands are beginning to wake up to the power of social media to engage consumers. It's a much more interactive way to engage consumers rather than just to expose them to advertising.
If done properly, brands can get more loyalty from consumers in a social media setting than in a traditional advertising format. At Eventful, brands have sponsored music events and they're basically using Eventful as a platform for entrenching themselves in the consumer population.
Q: How about your demand platform - how does that help bring in revenue?
A: Eventful Demand allows users to demand an event or performer come to town - these people are self-identifying themselves as ardent fan and future ticket buyers. These people out there engaging in social media are probably the most interested in seeing a live event.
When you think about the application of that data for direct marketing and merchandising, it becomes powerful. We're in the process of establishing revenue share agreements with merchandise distributors, ticket sellers (and) ring tone providers, and are about to roll out a site refresh that will include this.
Q: There's been such a focus on online advertising, which supports a huge bulk of the Internet. How much is Eventful going to be focusing on online advertising for revenue?
A: A lot of brands find us interesting and we're talking with them about site advertising - I welcome that. But for our business, I think it would be unwise to be dependent upon it. We don't want to build a business that is reliant on cycles in advertising spending.
Q: Eventful appears to have the biggest presence when it comes to political and musical events. Do you see that broadening in the next few years?
A: When you look at the Eventful home page, there are at least 30 categories of events. A lot of the areas where we're seeing users congregate are politics and live entertainment. But in the coming couple of years I think there will be a much more diversified audience base and interest across several more categories.
We're seeing a lot of growth in kids activities which I'm excited to see. Just like eBay, which started as a site for collectibles and moved on to all types of stuff, the awareness we're getting around music and politics is a good way to branch out to people's other interests.