Get to know a Toronto startup: Roxi
Listen 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