Ian Hogarth is the CEO & Co-founder of Songkick. I recently caught up him to talk about the company he founded four years ago after quitting his job at Bain & Company, Singapore. Ian holds a Master's in machine learning at Cambridge.
Songkick helps you keep track of live music. By integrating your iTunes, Last.fm or Pandora profile, you are able to receive alerts by email whenever a band you listen to announces a date in your city. It also shows users where to buy the cheapest tickets and see who else is going.
Thanks so much for taking the time to do this with me Ian, How are you doing today?
Great thanks! Thanks for taking an interest in our product.
Can you give the readers some background information about yourself, especially about what you were doing before you started Songkick?
Sure. Pete and I are best friends from Cambridge where he studied law and I studied Engineering. Michelle and I met studying Mandarin in Beijing. We quit our jobs in publishing (Michelle), enterprise software (Pete) and strategy consulting (Ian) to start Songkick.
How did the idea for Songkick come about and what made you decide that this was the right idea for you to pursue?
We all share a huge love for live music, and believe that seeing your favourite bands live is something everyone should experience more. We knew a lot of friends who wanted to see more concerts but didn't have time to keep track of when their favrouite bands came to town. We realised we could use our software development skills to simplify that process and autumatically tell you when bands you listen to announce dates in your city.
Can you tell explain to the readers what Songkick is about?
Songkick helps you keep track of live music. You sign up, give us access to your iTunes, Last.fm or Pandora profile, and we'll then alert you by email whenever a band you listen to announces a date in your city. We'll show you where to buy the cheapest tickets and see who else is going.
What would you say was the hardest part of setting up the business?
Finding our first few hires. We were very lucky to meet an amazing developer very early on, Phil Cowans who was working at Microsoft Research then. Looking back, persuading him to quit his job and join us was one of the most significant events.
You rolled out a new integration with Warner!, Can you tell us about it?
Yes absolutely. In order to able to tell our users about every concert by their favourite artists we have built up the most comprehensive database of concert information in the world. We're very excited to be working with Warner to power the tour data on their artist sites, thus ensuring that bands can present the most accurate and timely data on their tour dates to their fans. This saves bands and managers significant time, and means they can spend more time on their music.
Should we be expecting any other new features on the platform anytime soon?
Yes we have two big launches coming…stay tuned!
How is Songkick funded and what is your revenue model?
We are funded by angels and VCs from the technology and music industries including Y Combinator, Index Ventures, Alex Zubillaga, Jeff Clavier, Stefan Glaenzer, Peter Read, Dan Porter, Betaworks and other great angels.
We generate revenue by generating sales of commerce related to live music - tickets and soon merchandise and live recordings. We are a lead generation engine for the live music industry helping to solve the problem that 50% of concert tickets go unsold.
How has the your market changed since the company's launch in 2007 and how has your business changed to keep pace?
The ticketing market has continued to fragment with some fantastic new ticketing services emerging like Crowdsurge, Eventbrite, Ticketfly and Topspin, so we've continued to focus on aggregating the largest database of concert listings to provide the best service to our users.
What are the most crucial things you have done to grow your business?
Improving the quality of our user experience. That leads to happier users who spread the word more passionately to their friends.
As a UK-Based company that is successful and has been successful with funding, Do you think start-ups in the US have it easier than the UK? What is your take on this?
I think wherever you do it a start-up is hard. In London you have a few advantages as well as the well publicised disadvantages - it's slightly easier to hire a great team, and for us London has more concerts than any other city in the world, so we're close to a major live music market which helps refine new ideas.
If you you were to start another enterprise, what might it be?
I would like to do something to help reduce child trafficking.
Since the launch of the company in 2007, what moment would you describe as the most memorable so far?
The night we logged 1 million gigs in our database, and stayed up watching the database before launching a major new version of our site.
What three pieces of advice would you offer entrepreneurs starting out today?
Stay as focused as possible and keep simplifying down your ideas till you have something small you can launch quickly and iterate on. Be ruthless in hiring only the best people. Keep fit and try to exercise even in the longest times.
Finally before we go, Songkick has been a company that has been very successful with raising money, Could you share some tips on raising money?
Be authentic. Find other entrepreneurs to mentor you through the process. Try to avoid letting raising money distract you from what really matters - building a great product and delighting your users.
Thanks for your time Ian