Lea’s dwell occasion assistant for Messenger makes shopping for tickets simpler

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Shopping for occasion tickets on-line isn’t an incredible expertise. Websites like Ticketmaster are the default, however are tough to make use of and costly. A startup referred to as Lea desires to supply a extra fashionable expertise by combining occasion search, discovery, seat choice and cost all in a single software that works proper in Fb Messenger.

Sure, that’s proper — Lea is a chatbot.

And whereas bots haven’t had the warmest reception as of but, they’re more and more turning into a typical means for customers to work together with apps and types. However within the case of Lea, the chatbot-style interface may very well work higher than utilizing a ticketing web site or devoted cell app, like Ticketmaster’s.

In line with Lea’s CEO Brian Canty, the unique concept — again when the corporate was generally known as Ticktate — was to supply a concierge-like software for purchasing occasion tickets. Much like Postmates, the corporate would ship folks to the field workplace to purchase tickets on customers’ behalf. However this concept didn’t scale, Canty explains. It was costly and the field workplaces themselves pushed again due to their deep ties to Ticketmaster.

When the corporate joined 500 Startups in 2016, it was nonetheless self-funded, and seeking a mannequin that labored. That’s, one that also made it simpler to search out and purchase occasion tickets whereas providing customers the texture of the “high-touch, hand-holding” expertise they appeared to love from earlier than, says Canty.

Initially, Lea tried constructing a bot that used pure language processing (NLP, which understands language) to help with customers’ inquires about tickets. However after six months of testing, the crew discovered that the expertise by itself wasn’t matching as much as consumer expectations.

“We decided to pull out all the NLP and just take advantage of the Facebook platform to build something that accompanies the fan throughout the full journey of going to an event,” explains Canty. “Everything from discovery — we pull in their Spotify information, suggest events based on their location and what their friends like — to a chat extension, Facebook’s feature for allowing people to chat in a group with a bot and make purchases,” he says.

The bot right now works solely with Spotify, however the firm goals to assist Apple Music and SoundCloud in time.

It presents customers the flexibility to seek for particular artists, bands and live shows, or they’ll leverage Lea’s discovery mechanisms to remain knowledgeable of occasions they could like. Each week, Lea pushes out an replace with round 5 prompt occasions after which tracks these you click on to enhance its future suggestions.

Once you discover an occasion you want, you may make the acquisition proper from Messenger or your Messenger group chat, with out leaving the app.

Each step the consumer takes in Lea is guided by the bot utilizing prompts, however Lea hopes so as to add NLP again in to reinforce the expertise sooner or later.

As for the ticket costs, they’re market-based. Lea — like StubHub, SeatGeek, GameTime and others — works with third-party ticket exchanges, which worth tickets primarily based on their present worth. That’s, if the occasion is bought out, they could be increased than the field workplace; if it’s not, they could be decrease. Like opponents, it presents a big database of round 20 million+ tickets.

However Lea is hoping to promote customers on the comfort of the chatbot expertise, not essentially by providing absolutely the lowest ticket costs. That can rely on shopper adoption of chatbots usually, which continues to be a dangerous guess.

It additionally hopes to entice customers by providing the total end-to-end expertise in a single place.

“If you think about a typical ticketing company, discovery is done off-platform — like a Songkick or Bandsintown,” notes Canty. With Lea, the app begins with discovery, lets folks plan in group chat as common, then facilitates the acquisition. “But after the purchase, there’s a lot that can still be done in the digital format — things that can be value-adds,” he says.

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Lea has a variety of plans in that space. It goals to generate income with third-party integrations for issues like concessions, parking and merchandise gross sales in future variations, for instance. (Right this moment it solely takes a 20 p.c minimize of ticket gross sales, so it wants extra income streams.) It additionally desires to work with extra platforms, like Slack, Telegram, WhatsApp, iMessage and SMS, voice platforms and others.

Although it’s nonetheless early, Lea is seeing some traction, notes Canty.

As of the third week in December 2017, the corporate had bought $500,000 value of tickets and has grown to 23,000 customers. At one level, virtually half the customers had been repeat prospects. (However this isn’t all the time the case — not everybody goes to live shows on a regular basis, so repeat utilization must be measured over an extended time frame.)

To assist with its improvement, Lea just lately closed on $600,000 in angel funding from a lot of notable traders.

The checklist contains Danny Zhang, CTO of Want; Haroon Mirza, GP of Skyrocket Ventures, investor in SnapTravel; Vito Bialla, Bialla Ventures, investor in Freshly; Chun Han, director of Knowledge Science at Yahoo!; Jeanne Lim, CMO of Hanson Robotics (creators of Sophia Bot); Hao Zheng, CEO of Plus.ai; and Seth Flowerman, investor in Ticketbis.

The app is on the market right here for Fb Messenger.

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Désiré LeSage

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