A Q&A with ShowScoop founder Micah Smurthwaite. The San Diego, California-based company was founded in 2012 and launched its app out of beta in mid-February.
SUB: Please describe ShowScoop and your value proposition.
Smurthwaite: With ShowScoop, fans can rate how bands perform live. Before fans decide to buy concert tickets, or make their festival schedule, they can see if an artist puts on a good live show. Fans also have a profile and can follow their friends’ reviews.
SUB: Who are your target markets and users?
Smurthwaite: Anyone who goes to concerts, which was a $23 billion market in the U.S. in 2012. The majority of concert attendees are men and women between the ages of 16 and 35.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
Smurthwaite: There are a couple players in the same space—geo-locating concert engines like Songkick and Bandsintown.
SUB: What differentiates ShowScoop from the competition?
Smurthwaite: The social aspect is unique. Fans can review shows, follow friends, and upload photos and videos. If I have a friend that is really into concerts, I can check his profile and stumble across up-and-coming bands.
SUB: When was the company founded and what were the first steps you took in establishing it?
Smurthwaite: We put the website up in September 2012. After getting some feedback and working through various issues, we were ready to release the iPhone app.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for ShowScoop? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Smurthwaite: I went to a music festival and was only familiar with 20 percent of the artists. I didn’t know how to effectively organize my festival schedule, other than watching YouTube videos and reading lengthy reviews from music critics. I wanted something quantitative that tapped into the wisdom of crowds. I used RateMyProfessor in college and Yelp for restaurants, why wasn’t there anything for concerts?
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story behind it?
Smurthwaite: We played with ‘How are they live?,’ ‘Concert Critic,’ and other names, but all the domains were taken. Then I called my college roommate, who always spoke in slang, and came up with hilarious nicknames for people. I told him about my idea for concert reviews and immediately he said, “Oh you tryin’ to do some ShowScoopin?!” It was a perfect fit.
SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building the company?
Smurthwaite: The event database is a big issue in this field. We have chosen to crowdsource our event database. It has been a great model for Wikipedia, IMDb, etc. The drawback is relying on the community to enforce correct information. We could draw event info. from ticket vendors, but the market is so fragmented we would have to tap into 150-plus APIs, and organize all that data according to our format—not an easy task.
SUB: You just launched your mobile app out of beta. Why was this a particularly good time to launch it?
Smurthwaite: We launched at the SFMusicTech Conference, which is a great place to launch or any music tech company. Also we wanted to get more reviews on the platform before the festival season so fans can use it to put their schedules together.
SUB: Have you raised outside funding to this point? If so, how much have you raised?
Smurthwaite: We are 100 percent bootstrapped.
SUB: How does the company generate revenue or plan to generate revenue?
Smurthwaite: Right now, we are just focused on creating value. We have revenue streams in mind, but they are irrelevant if we can’t create value and build a useful service for fans.
SUB: What are your goals for ShowScoop over the next year or so?
Smurthwaite: Our two main goals are 1) user adoption; and 2) user reviews. The more reviews, the more valuable the service is for concert-goers.
ShowScoop – www.showscoop.com