In this episode of Art of the Kickstart, we interviewed Ed Vincent, CEO of festivalPass, the world’s first live events subscription service. Ranging from music, film, food & wine, theater, tech & innovation and more, festialPass lets you enjoy thousands of events locally and globally for one monthly fee. Learn about the inspiration behind this company and it’s road to equity crowdfunding on Wefunder.

Topics Discussed and Key Crowdfunding Takeaways

  • Ed Vincent’s 20-year experience as a serial entrepreneur before launching festivalPass
  • How the COVID-19 Pandemic has affected the company
  • Why they choose to go forward with an equity crowdfunding campaign
  • The prepwork that went into launching the campaign
  • Who their target market is and how they are reaching this audience

Links

Sponsors

Art of the Kickstart is honored to be sponsored by The Gadget Flow, a product discovery platform that helps you discover, save, and buy awesome products. The Gadget Flow is the ultimate buyer’s guide for cool luxury gadgets and creative gifts. Click here to learn more and list your product – use coupon code ATOKK16 for 20% off!

Transcript

View this episode's transcript
Roy Morejon:
Welcome to Art of the Kickstart, your source for crowdfunding campaign success. I’m your host, Roy Morejon, President of Enventys Partners, the top full service turnkey product development and crowdfunding marketing agency in the world. We have helped startups raise over $100 million for our clients since 2010. Each week I’ll interview a crowdfunding success story, an inspirational entrepreneur or a business expert in order to help you take your startup to the next level with crowdfunding.
Roy Morejon:
Art of the Kickstart is honored to be sponsored by Gadget Flow. The Gadget Flow is a product discovery platform that helps you discover, save and buy awesome products. It is the ultimate buyer’s guide for luxury gadgets and creative gifts. Now let’s get on with the show.
Roy Morejon:
Welcome to another edition of Art of the Kickstart. Today we are speaking with Ed Vincent, the founder and CEO of Festival Pass. So Festival Pass, as Ed will explain, is a really interesting subscription-based service that allows folks to basically enjoy thousands of local or global festivals for just a flat monthly fee. Currently has an active campaign on Wefunder that has raised over $100,000. So I’m really excited to hear and speak with Ed Vincent, the founder and CEO of Festival Pass. So, Ed, thank you so much for being on the show.
Ed Vincent:
Great. I’m happy to be here, Roy.
Roy Morejon:
I’m very interested just because of the way the world is right now. I guess obviously this startup or this innovation came years ago, I’m assuming. Where does this all start for you, and what’s a little bit of your history and background to inspire you to create Festival Pass?
Ed Vincent:
Sure, sure. So I think you hit it right when … I think any good businesses come from context and past experiences that lead to innovating on an industry. The first thing is, is that I have been an entrepreneur for over 20 years. I started launched my first startup, which was a e-commerce company back in 1999, which I sold in 2001. Then I went on to build an agency, about a 70 person agency through the 2000s. And that agency was an experiential agency. During that time we engaged in a lot of big events, and not only did we activate a lot of big brands at concerts and film festivals and even creating a series of branded events, like we had something where we had an online dating service and Absolut Vodka with a thing called click at a flick where people were dating at the movies, but those kinds of things led me to have a real passion for live events.
Ed Vincent:
We helped launch a couple of film festivals and we even owned one in the Dominican Republic called the Dominican International Film Festival. So, that was kind of the foray into loving live events. And after that, I went on to continue my technology career. I built a software-as-a-service business in the franchise and multiunit space, which I sold in 2014. Then for the past five or six years, I had a data consultancy and software platform in the entertainment space.
Ed Vincent:
During that time we did a lot with big television networks, like A&E networks and AMC networks. Even today that company still exists. I’m still a part owner in it, and it actually still, the platform provides the insights into movie theaters to identify who’s in the audience and what ads to serve on the screen based upon who the predicted audience would be.
Ed Vincent:
I’m kind of getting to the culmination here. In that time I was asked through my company to come in and be the interim Chief Data Officer of a company called MoviePass, which I think a few people, that maybe listeners probably heard of. It was a interesting company that came quickly into a fast success, but then had some issues along the way. It was fascinating to have a seat at the table to watch all the good decisions and bad decisions happening along the way, but that culmination of understanding a better way to have a business model that’s sustainable, something MoviePass did not have, and actually tapping into a market much bigger than the exhibitor space here in the North America. Live events is a $200 billion industry globally, and being able to have all the data experience that I have in consumer data marketing, as well as my love and passion for events, it really brought us to the place of innovating in the live event space that is long overdue.
Roy Morejon:
So when you were creating Festival Pass, and I totally get the context around that in terms of seeing events and the movie side of things, certainly, and now the festival side, where that opens up a much larger global audience, what was that process like there in terms of leaning on your 20 years of experience in the entrepreneurship world? And how did you go about deciding what features were most important for those Festival Pass goers that would finally convert into a membership type program?
Ed Vincent:
Yeah I mean, I think at the end of the day anytime you bring a consumer product to market, and especially in the model that we have, which is a marketplace model, I liken what we’re doing more of the lines of what Airbnb is to the hospitality industry, then what a MoviePass was or what some other subscription services are, because we truly are a marketplace, and in so doing, we have to provide value to the consumer while at the same time providing value to the rights holders, the people that produce these events and own these events. So having that insight enabled me to really understand on both sides, how do you serve to two customers, one being the rights holders and the other being the consumers.
Roy Morejon:
What was the biggest challenge that you encountered overall in terms of developing Festival Pass?
Ed Vincent:
Challenge? I mean, I think COVID. COVID probably was the largest challenge, but it has a lot of silver lining in it. Obviously it’s tough to launch a live events marketplace when all live events globally were shut down for a while. So I don’t know if I answered that appropriately, but yes, COVID was the biggest challenge. And of course, in building any kind of early stage companies there’s obstacles that you just have to get over.
Roy Morejon:
Yeah, no, that certainly is the elephant in the room, at least on the festival side or getting together side right now. So, the pandemic, is that what led you into running an equity crowdfunding campaign?
Ed Vincent:
Oh, no, not at all. So, I did post an article in Medium that kind of explains our whole reasoning to go down the path of equity crowd funding, and happy to summarize it here for your audience. It’s a very strategic approach. So understanding that I have the 20 years experience in the entrepreneur phase, I’ve had the benefit of understanding capital access from pretty much every point on the capital ecosystem. So I’ve raised pure, normal, straight up venture capital money. I’ve raised debt from different various stakeholders. I’ve raised angel financing. I’ve raised private equity funds as well as funds from different family offices. So in that process, every capital source has a defined kind of set of things that come along with it. Right? So part of it is really just educating yourself as an entrepreneur on the capital source and what the expectation of return is for that capital source and knowing that kind of allows the strategy of when and where to take different capital.
Ed Vincent:
So as it relates to crowdfunding, obviously I’ve been tracking the whole equity crowdfunding space since it really kind of began in 2016 with always having a dream of building a $100 million plus company without ever taking traditional venture capital. And part of that is, because of my past experiences that while I think the venture capital space is amazing for some fast velocity growth companies, and I’ll never say never down the line at the right time in the right place with the right expectation, but there’s something to be said if 10 years ago being able to build a multi-hundred million dollar company without venture capital, it was almost an impossibility. But today it’s not anymore because of things like equity crowdfunding, as well as things like low cost debt financing, revenue-based debt financing that is non-dilutive to early shareholders while at the same time providing growth capital.
Ed Vincent:
So I can peel the onion on that, but it was a very deliberate strategy that started years ago for when we went enter the equity crowdfunding space. We had raised some seed stage capital prior to, to get launched. We took an investment from a strategic partner, the third largest radio group in the country, which provided media and cash. This is just the next step in our strategy, which is to raise $1 million through equity crowdfunding, which then allows our customers as well as early stage folks, or main street investors I should say, to actually get the value that a lot of these [inaudible 00:09:47] get, unfortunately, in the world of typical main street investors they usually only get a chance to jump in at the IPO and most of the value’s already been created, but here I really wanted to participate in the small D democratic fundraising perspective so that people that actually are supporting early on will be the ones that get the value in the end.
Roy Morejon:
Nice. Let’s talk a little bit about the active Wefunder campaign that’s going on right now. What did some of that prep work leading up to the launch of that look like? And how long did you spend preparing for the launch?
Ed Vincent:
Yeah, so I guess there’s two aspects to it is one is just the legal filings, right? So anybody that’s done one before may or may not know that you have to file a reg CF with the SEC. And again, it’s not burdensome, whereas any kind of public filing requires ton of expense and a ton of work. Here, it was just making sure that you file all the appropriate information with the SEC, which was not a big lift, so I was happy to do that.
Ed Vincent:
Then we were just sitting on a place where we got approved to be able to launch our campaign, but we chose to wait for a few months because of the way COVID was, The way we look at, or at least I look at the long-term path for live events is it’s a huge business. There’s a ton of pent up demand going on now with respect to people wanting to get back post COVID, but just like everything in life, people often attach emotion to things, and uncertainty in certain environments adds into people’s desire to participate in things.
Ed Vincent:
So it wasn’t until June, July we started saying, “Well, okay, I think the world, while still knowing the pandemic is a challenge, is starting to see that there is another side to it. That it will end eventually and we will get to the other side, whether it’s through the vaccine, whether it’s through treatment, whether it’s through other various safety precautions.” So we decided that we would kind of hold off on watching the campaign until I felt the public could see the light at the end of the tunnel. So we did just that, and we didn’t launch it until this month, really, until earlier this month. And as you can see, we’ve already brought in over $100,000 just out of the gate, and we plan to close out the full million by the end of the campaign.
Roy Morejon:
How did you go about deciding on who your target market audience was specifically for the equity crowdfunding campaign? I know when we talk a lot on the equity side, usually we’re trying to attract high net worth, accredited investors on this, but I think your product and your company really speaks to the everyday festival goer or person that just wants to see live events, now, and obviously into the future, that we need more human interaction. So how have you gone about targeting your audience for this?
Ed Vincent:
Sure. Good question. So a couple of levels, right? So obviously, from my background and past experience, not everybody always has this option, but some of the initial investors knew we were going to jump into the crowd funding campaign and were waiting for it to go live to participate because they were already excited. So as a company CEO, it would be difficult to manage hundreds of investors that are individually investing separately in the company on the cap table. But the beauty of equity crowd funding is hundreds, if not thousands of investors can all invest with one source on the crowdfunding and it becomes one line on the cap table. So I was never really open from a pure logistics standpoint to expect people wanting to invest a $1,000, $5,000, $100 until we kind of launched it. So there was a few people that jumped in initially knowing that we’re going to launch it.
Ed Vincent:
The second is we just this week engaged a partner who’s raised over $100 million in equity crowdfunding to manage some of our outreach, and in so doing they have relationships with tens of thousands of investors that have already invested in crowdfunding campaigns. So we’ll be tapping into that outreach soon as well.
Ed Vincent:
The third is the one you mentioned, which is the most important to me when it comes down to allowing people to participate, that support you early. So starting probably next week we’ll start marketing to our members and letting them know that it actually exists. Just a few days ago we put up a little note on the website so when people are coming in, they know that if they click the own equity button they can actually go invest if they want to, but we haven’t really pushed or marketed that to our user base yet. We’re seeing hundreds of new members signing up every day, so it’s just an opportunity to allow those hundreds of members that are signing up for the platform to also participate in owning part of the company if they so desire.
Roy Morejon:
Yeah. Which is always wonderful in terms of leveraging the overall crowd that you own, or at least have an ownership over in terms of communicating directly with and bringing them into the company so they have a greater brand affinity for what you guys are working on now.
Ed Vincent:
Yep, no, I agree with that.
Roy Morejon:
So I know your campaigns early on, but any big surprises so far?
Ed Vincent:
Not yet. Just I’m looking forward to seeing how it rolls out throughout October and November, which is really where the big push is going to be. One of our goals when I get back to that larger strategy is once we close out this campaign, and we have a lot of early investors that are main street investors that can participate in the upside, we’re going to be leveraging some low cost debt capital for our growth. There’s sources out there, which I don’t know if anybody here knows about, but places like Clear Bank and Bravo and Lighter Capital and a bunch of others that are all revenue based growth financing companies, where you can obtain millions of dollars in growth financing without ever giving up any dilution in the company. So that’s likely the next step in our strategy, or it is the next step in our strategy is this campaign will bring us into 2021 and will likely tap into millions of dollars of low cost debt capital that will go towards paid media funding in order to continue to grow our audience.
Roy Morejon:
Amazing. So tell me a little bit about your experience with the community of backers that you’ve gotten into the campaign so far and the community that you’ve built on the website that are signing up. How have you gone about managing potentially their feedback as well as just promoting the equity crowdfunding campaign at the same time?
Ed Vincent:
Yeah. So that’s a little bit of kind of what I was talking about earlier is we’re just in the process now of making it known to our community of thousands of members that it exists, right? So going forward, what will happen is this will probably launch next week, that every time somebody signs up as a member on Festival Pass, they receive a series of emails, the first email welcoming them into the company, second email, encouraging them to share on social with their friends and earn free credits. Third email, and I may be off on the sequence of the emails, but third email talking about how they can secure their 2021 annual membership at a discount. Fourth email, “Hey, by the way, did you know you could also own part of this company?” So it’s really just this series of communications that go out to our members so they become aware of how they can both be a member as well as an owner.
Roy Morejon:
Amazing. Well, the campaign is definitely going on right now on Wefunder, so I’ll make sure to include all the links on that. Ed, this is going to get us into our launch round where I’m going to rapid fire a handful of questions at you. You good to go?
Ed Vincent:
I am. I’m here.
Roy Morejon:
What inspired you be an entrepreneur?
Ed Vincent:
Good question. I mean, I think from the age of 10 I’ve always been working, putting newspapers together on Sunday for five bucks and a free breakfast. It was always what I wanted to be. I only had a short diversion into the corporate world as an investment banker for a few years leading up to 1999, and haven’t worked for anybody since.
Roy Morejon:
So if you could meet with any entrepreneur throughout history, who would it be?
Ed Vincent:
I have a lot of people I admire, whether ones that I think everybody knows, Richard Branson is a great entrepreneur that also is a wonderful human being and has a wonderful family life. I have a lot of friends that have been down to his Island and speak highly of him, so I would like to meet him. Then it’d be interesting to meet other entrepreneurs that don’t necessarily fall into the world of tech, but some back from the industrial revolution or whether it’s folks like Henry Ford, who created almost effectively built the suburbs with his assembly line and the car.
Roy Morejon:
So if you got to meet Henry Ford, what would have been your first question for him?
Ed Vincent:
What inspired you to create something that people didn’t know they needed?
Roy Morejon:
Yeah. Well, that’s incredible. Favorite musician.
Ed Vincent:
Musician. I would have to say Jack White.
Roy Morejon:
Okay. [crosstalk 00:19:16] Sorry, go ahead.
Ed Vincent:
No, I don’t know if anybody knows Jack whiter knows he’s an amazing musician that was part of the White Stripes and The Raconteurs and just kept creating bands that he was the linchpin for.
Roy Morejon:
Got it. What book might you recommend to our listeners?
Ed Vincent:
Business or a personal?
Roy Morejon:
Both.
Ed Vincent:
Business? There’s a book called Measure What Matters by John Doerr, who is a venture capitalist, but it’s a great concept about how you build OKRs, which are goal setting that tie into annual goals, broken down to quarterly goals. In other words, do the things that matter and track it, analytics. And then the personal side, there’s a great book by Brian Grazer, the film producer called A Curious Mind. And what I love about it is it’s the constant desire to learn and the constant desire to understand why people do things.
Roy Morejon:
Nice. Last question, and I know you’re early on in this campaign, but I’m interested to hear your take, Ed, on what the future of equity crowdfunding looks like.
Ed Vincent:
Yeah. I mean the one thing I’m excited about, and hopefully it gets approved, is that currently today with reg CF, you can only raise $1,070,000 without going to the other reg A and reg Ds, which require more expenses and a lot more paperwork if you will, or disclosure, but here reg CF will move up to a $5 million soon or at least that’s what everybody’s hoping for. So I think by moving it up to a $5 million limit, it will allow companies like ours to do a second round and continue to allow people to participate in further growth financing rather than it only being very, very seed driven.
Roy Morejon:
Absolutely. No, I hope that comes out soon as well. Well, Ed, this has been awesome. This is your opportunity to give our audience your pitch, tell people what you’re all about, where people should go and why they should check you out.
Ed Vincent:
Yeah, I think it’s very straightforward. For us, FestivalPass.com. Go to the website, sign up as a free member today, or as a paid member. Any membership you sign up for now and credits you learn will just continue to roll over, even if you’re not ready to go to an event yet. So help support the live event industry by signing up now, that would be great. Then anybody interested in investing go to the Wefunder campaign, type in Festival Pass, and you’ll find us and realize that you’ll own a part of the $200 billion live events industry.
Roy Morejon:
Amazing. Audience, thanks again for tuning in. Make sure to visit ArtoftheKickstart.com for the notes, the transcript, links to the campaign and everything else we talked about today, of course. And thank you to our crowdfunding podcast sponsors, The Gadget Flow and ProductHype. Ed, thank you so much for joining us today on Art of the Kickstart.
Ed Vincent:
Thank you for having me.
Roy Morejon:
Thanks for tuning into another episode of Art of the Kickstart, the show about building a business, world and life with crowdfunding. If you’ve enjoyed today’s episode, awesome. Make sure to visit ArtoftheKickstart.com and tell us all about it. There you’ll find additional information about past episodes, our Kickstarter guide to crushing it. And of course, if you love this episode a lot, leave us a review at artofthekickstart.com/iTunes. It helps more inventors, entrepreneurs and startups find this show and helps us get better guests to help you build a better business. If you need more hands-on crowdfunding strategy advice, please feel free to request a quote on EnventysPartners.com. Thanks again for tuning in and we’ll see you again next week.