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Get to know a Toronto startup: Roxi

Posted by Anna Starasts / September 18, 2012

Roxi appListen up, party people: this app's for you. Roxi is a nightlife brokerage service that promises to simplify and streamline the process of getting on guestlists or booking bottle service at Toronto nightclubs. The app connects you directly with nightlife industry owners and managers, and helps them connect with their clientele, without having to always go through a promoter.

Roxi will be free for users and available as both a web and mobile app (the company will generate revenue by charging a commission to venues for every booking that patrons make through the app). Launching on October 1st, the startup aims to have 32+ registered clubs and 5,000+ app downloads by January 2013.

The name may sound as cute and flirty as the server pouring your drink from that frosty magnum of Grey Goose, but the idea behind the app comes from CEO Jeff Tchadjeu's years of practical insight into the intricacies of the nightclub biz.

While studying at McMaster University, Jeff co-founded Limelight Media, a nightlife marketing company that planned, hosted and promoted its own branded events. The experience made Jeff an expert in the industry's inefficiencies and pain-points.

One of these is the process for booking bottle service, which often involves a loose network of promoters working a pen and paper reservation system. Enter Roxi: a web and mobile application to simplify the process. Chris Spoke, Roxi's VP of Corporate Development, gave me the scoop on this new app:

Why do you think clubgoers need Roxi? Why cut out the real-life promoters?

By offering a central directory of local nightlife venues and the functionality to immediately get on guestlist or book bottle service, we dramatically reduce the friction and transaction costs for customers.

It's important to note however, that we do not intend to fully replace promoters. Promoters still provide venue owners with an important service: the leverage of their personal networks and charismatic personalities to maximize attendance at a club. We just want to offer owners the tools to lessen their reliance on a large number of promoters by helping fewer promoters be more productive.

Who is the ideal Roxi user? Who would this app really appeal to?

The ideal Roxi user is a young adult living in or near the city who occasionally enjoys a night out on the town. They may not know the ins and outs of the nightlife scene or have a promoter on their speed-dial, but they're willing and able to spend good money for a good time.

What do you see as the biggest challenges to finding investors in Toronto?

We've actually done fairly well raising a seed round in Toronto, despite our limited networks of accredited tech investors. We will likely focus our efforts on Silicon Valley angels and Venture Capital funds for our next round of financing, given the greater abundance of capital at play there.

You're part of the first cohort at Driven Accelerator [Toronto's first tech startup accelerator for underrepresented minorities in tech]. Where do you see your business one year from now?

One year from now, the goal is to have have a profitable business running with venues registered for our service in key cities throughout North America and Western Europe.

Why do you think Toronto is growing as a hot spot for tech, digital and mobile startups?

Toronto acts as a magnet drawing in talent from across the country. It's a rapidly growing and increasingly vibrant city with great quality of life. It's also recognized as Canada's international hub -- our best shot at having a world class city. That, plus the fact that we're so close to Waterloo, another tech hub, certainly doesn't hurt.

Aside from that though, the tech sector is rapidly growing generally, everywhere. That plays more into our growing scene than anything about Toronto specifically.

What's one key piece of advice the Roxi team can give aspiring startup founders.

As the Greek goddess of victory famously said, "Just do it!" The learning curve will certainly be steep, but no amount of reading, talking or attending conferences can ever replace the lessons learned by getting your hands dirty and giving your idea a real go.

Photo by Jesse Milns



Tiffany / September 18, 2012 at 01:03 pm
Awesome, an app for the biggest douches in the country.
Golnar / September 18, 2012 at 01:35 pm
Somebody had a hard time in highschool. ^^
Tiffany / September 18, 2012 at 01:38 pm
High school WAS hard -- they didn't have bottle service.
joe mama replying to a comment from Tiffany / September 18, 2012 at 01:48 pm
I'm with you. Only the douchiest places have bottle service. It's the illusion of sophistication.
Benny / September 18, 2012 at 02:02 pm
hahah. This app reminds me of Maro/Cinema. DOUCHEBAG CENTRAL!
Jane / September 18, 2012 at 02:18 pm
hmm he stole this idea from a guy who pitched this exact same idea on Shark Tank!
Doucheyousay / September 18, 2012 at 02:19 pm
"Only the douchiest places have bottle service"...now, if this statement right here isn't the poster-quote for what / who a douchebag is...I don't know what is. For the record, if you are completely unaware of yourself enough to make such a stupid, blanket statement...you are a douchebag. Enjoy.
Guy / September 18, 2012 at 02:19 pm
A new and improved way to pay 1000% markup to pretend you're a somebody!
Jake Warner / September 18, 2012 at 02:20 pm
Great idea, I hope places like Muzik and Maison get on board. Would make things so much simpler.
Matt replying to a comment from Jake Warner / September 18, 2012 at 02:37 pm
Why the hell would anyone want to go somewhere that's 'difficult'? Whatever, I'm glad there's a market for clubs as that leaves more room in bars for decent people who don't have self-esteem issues.
joe mama replying to a comment from Doucheyousay / September 18, 2012 at 02:47 pm
I'm completely unaware of myself? That doesn't even make any sense. Is that some sort of insult?

I've been to more than my fare share of clubs, and all of them are pretty douchey...And of course, most, if not all, have bottle service.

...What with all the machismo, dress code, only playing popular music, girls/guys showing up in limos because it's their bachelorette/bachelor/birthday party, having to pay a huge markup on bottle service just to have a place to sit and someone serving you, the look-at-me I'm so awesome wearing pimpin' clothes, spending lots of money, and reek of cologne kind of atmosphere is not douchey at all.

Maybe you're right, maybe everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Mine is that all of the above make clubs really shallow and pretentious, more so than non-bottle serving venues. Maybe bottle-service isn't the reason, but it's one of the many commonalities clubs share.
905indahaus / September 18, 2012 at 03:19 pm
They should develop an adjunct app called "increase my line of credit", because we all know that these douchebags simply cannot "afford" the lifestyle they pretend to live. The other idea would be to create a "wipe my pillow" app, as once they leave the "club" alone, they go home alone and realize how shallow and horrible their lives are. I was that guy once. Except I got some bad crabs from a girl I met who was sharing my mortgaged bottle service. Good times indeed!
AlwaysGO / September 18, 2012 at 03:24 pm
This is a great idea! I travel alot and this seems like it could be extremely useful in order to go out in a city that I'm not from.... Not sure about everyone else but you have one guaranteed downloader right here.
nightattheroxburyguy / September 18, 2012 at 04:40 pm
this is a losing start-up no doubt. very limited customer base. a dozen clubs in the city and the very few who use bottle service. this sounds like somebody is just looking for investors to fund his lifestyle. your business model will result in pure meltdown. this idea is so laughable!
LIFTfoodie / September 18, 2012 at 06:15 pm
Glad to see there is such an encouraging community in toronto (?!). Let's hope these guys bring some economic attention from san fran to toronto. I am sure all our local software developers will thank them. Whether you think bottle service is stupid or not, these guys have had the foresight to answer a preceived need in a niche market. Who knows what will happen - after all, instagram was bought for $1 billion dollars. If you think bottle service is self obsessed than I don't know what instagram coukd be defined as! Let us know when you have a less laughable idea witth the potential to make millions and benefit the local economy and I might see your (and the others') point.

For now, I'm rooting for you Rockii.
Samuel W. / September 18, 2012 at 06:31 pm
So typical of Toronto to demoralize local entrepeurs rather than show love and support. Same trend is visible in many other sectors such as music. This looks like an intriguing idea and I look forward to the launch. Hopefully you'll close a large round and laugh at these rude comments when you think back.
MR.FORTE / September 18, 2012 at 08:23 pm
iamdeveloper / September 18, 2012 at 08:35 pm
how-to make money developing apps;

1. create cheap website with place holder graphics and dead links with godaddy.com
2. sell app idea to dumb foreign investor with slick website and blogto fake buzz.
3. go clubbing, get laid and drunk on start-up capital while telling investors you're promoting the brand.
4. hire a student graphic designer/your friend to code app and pocket the development cost.
5. take a long vacation in a Caribbean resort thinking about your next big app.
I. P. Freely replying to a comment from Samuel W. / September 18, 2012 at 08:50 pm
Saying "typical of Toronto" is ridiculous. This happens in every major city. Everyone in the first world is free to have an opinion and many people express those opinions online.

I think the key problem is that BlogTO is losing their focused identity and starting to take on a more "mainstream" approach and maybe people aren't happy with that. I started coming here because I found it to be sort of a counter-culture to the mainstream. People don't come here to get reviews on family restaurant chains, they're looking for a more original and unique experience. The same with music, nightlife etc. Clubs always only play popular music, and I don't come on here to find out about popular music or venues that cater to that type of music. There's a lot of other Toronto-based clubbing sites, where they call each other "bro" that would love to hear about an app like this, but personally, I think it's a bad fit for this site, as you can tell from the resounding comments here.

In the same week this site will go from covering a Kelly Clarkson concert to covering the Sheepdogs concert, and those are two totally different artists, that typically appeal to completely different circles.

I think people here are more interested in the newest hipster dive bars, not a more streamlined answer to get bottle service so they can go to the brant house and pump their fists in a booth to the latest ludacris song while drinking grey goose.

If BlogTO is trying to be everything to everyone, I think they should stop, because we already have enough outlets for that. But for anything outside of the mainstream, BlogTo is the best solution.
talkic.com / September 18, 2012 at 10:54 pm
They need to get the cast of the Jersey Shore endorsing this.
Gabe Gala / September 19, 2012 at 11:32 am
These guys are on the verge of trying to revolutionize an entire market. Anyone who doesn't see that is simply blinded by their pathetic hatred of the extremely large demographic that attends these clubs. Which is fine to hate, but its very sad. I for one am pumped to see the results of such an endeavor.

Deltron / September 19, 2012 at 12:06 pm
Haters gon Hate. This is a brilliant idea for those who don't want to deal with promoters or for some reason can't get a hold of them. Also clubs can now run with out them as well. They don't have to as it can ease the stress of their current ones. Also newer clubs don't have to worry about early costs of promotion teams. It will be very interesting on what the founder does with the product globally and how the market responds. Small minded people only think this will happen in Toronto or only clubs will use this. Bars who have private sections or events with VIP or after parties can benefit. This can also work some demographic tracking as well something which I feel is lacking in this industry.
Stan / October 3, 2012 at 09:02 am
I absolutely love your blog.. Very nice colors & theme.
Did you create this web site yourself? Please reply back as I'm looking to create my own blog and would like to learn where you got this from or just what the theme is named. Appreciate it!
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