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Text-ticketing startup Pogoseat allies with TM Europe

Pogoseat, a US start-up which provides access to last-minute tickets via text message, has agreed a partnership with Ticketmaster in the UK and Europe.

The agreement will see LA-based Pogoseat utilise Ticketmaster’s APIs to reach more fans and provide additional venues, sports teams and event promoters with another avenue to sell tickets. Those who want to use the service sign up to receive SMS alerts – then, when tickets become available, a text message is sent and fans can reply with the quantity of tickets and location they want. The tickets are delivered via a link in a text message, with various fulfilment methods available.

“This partnership with Ticketmaster allows Pogoseat to access new clients across the entire European region”

Pogoseat CEO Kiran Patel says: “This partnership with Ticketmaster allows Pogoseat to access new clients across the entire European region. We are excited to be working with the biggest ticketing company in the world, providing a new marketing channel to sell tickets for their clients.

“Both brands are aligned in offering the easiest and most fan-riendly experiences when purchasing tickets, making this a perfect partnership.”

Pogoseat has raised more than US$3m in seed, series-A and venture funding since its founding in 2012, from investors including Structure Capital, BluePointe Ventures and TYLT Ventures.

 


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UMG, ReplyYes to sell tickets with chatbots

As predicted by ReplyYes CEO Dave Cotter last year, the chatbot-based ecommerce platform is to begin selling concert tickets as part of a new partnership with label giant Universal Music Group (UMG).

Cotter told IQ in that ReplyYes’s ‘conversation commerce’ technology, which makes personalised product recommendations through text messages, has the potential to transform live music ticketing following a successful launch selling vinyl records and comic books. (The Edit, ReplyYes’s daily vinyl recommendation service, has sold more than 100,000 albums via text in its first 18 months in operation.)

The company’s deal with UMG, announced on Friday, is described as “an exclusive agreement to create a host of new engagement and shopping opportunities for UMG artists and their fans worldwide”, including for tickets, merch and recorded music.

“At UMG, we want to empower our artists and labels to leverage new technologies that help them build deeper relationships with their fans,” comments Universal’s senior vice-president of consumer engagement, Peter Sinclair. “ReplyYes helps us accomplish exactly that.

“Our recording artists, songwriters and labels benefit from these exciting new forms of fan engagement and merchandising that are created by conversational commerce”

“Our recording artists, songwriters and labels benefit from these exciting new forms of fan engagement and merchandising that are created by conversational commerce. We are excited to work with ReplyYes, and even more excited for the millions of fans around the world who will experience this new and direct way of interacting with their favourite artists.”

The Seattle-based start-up has also announced it has raised US$6.5 million in series-A funding from a consortium of venture-capital investors.

A statement from Madrona Venture Group, one of the firms leading the funding round, says: “We believe that mobile messaging will play a major role in the future of ecommerce. ReplyYes is at the centre of major macro technology trends: ecommerce, mobile, messaging and artificial intelligence.

“With the success of their vinyl music store, The Edit, […] and by bringing on major partners like UMG, ReplyYes has proven that their ecommerce over mobile messaging platform has a huge opportunity ahead of it.”

 


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Could chatbots soon be selling concert tickets?

The CEO of a Seattle tech start-up which has sold over US$1 million worth of vinyl records in eight months through a text message-based ‘conversational commerce’ channel says the technology could soon also be applied to concert tickets.

ReplyYes chief Dave Cotter, a former Amazon general manager and the co-founder of the private SquareHub social network for families, tells IQ its first two channels – the aforementioned The Edit, and Origin Bound, which sells comic books/graphic novels – are “just the beginning”, and that the live music business is poised to take advantage of the growing trend towards text-based ecommerce chatbots.

So how does ReplyYes work? Each person who signs up to The Edit or Origin Bound (by texting ‘start’ to join the service) receives a text message daily with a personalised record or comic suggestion. Users can then reply ‘yes’ to purchase the item, or ‘like’ or ‘dislike’ to help ReplyYes’s algorithm learn their preferences.

“Beyond the ability to be able to deliver messages more quickly than email, there’s no app people have to download, which reduces the friction,” explains Cotter. “In other words, text messaging works on every phone, smartwatch or any device that supports SMS.”

“The chat platform is really exciting right now. It offers a much more intimate channel for retailers and brands to connect with their customers, and with much better open rates”

However, “the nuances of human conversations are really hard for a bot to handle”, he continues (just ask Microsoft, whose Tay chatbot became a sex-crazed Holocaust-denier in less than a day), so ReplyYes has humans on the other end of the phone, too. “When bots can’t handle it, it can be a really bad customer experience. Bots are good at tasks, not conversations; this is why [we have] human operators as well, to jump in when bots aren’t right for the job.”

These human operators – unlike, say, the staff of a call centre in Bangalore – are also experts in their field, picked for their “deep knowledge of the channel”. (The staff of The Edit, for example, include a “puppy-loving neighbourhood riot grrrl”, a “feisty text artisan who puts the ‘wreck’ in ‘record'”, a Golden Girls-watching, Justin Bieber-loving, ‘Psycho Killer’-singing vinyl therapist and Britanny, who is “fuelled by laughter and driven by hip hop.”)

While ReplyYes is by no means alone in exploring the possibilities of chatbots for ecommerce – Facebook, for example, earlier this month announced the launch of a feature that will enable businesses to offer automated customer support via its Messenger app – it remains one of the most successful examples so far of how the technology can be harnessed to build a solid customer base, boasting 50,000 users across both platforms, and has secured over $2.5m in investment from various venture-capitalist groups since its inception.

“I do think it’s great for live [music],” concludes Cotter. “The chat platform is really exciting right now. It offers a much more intimate channel for retailers and brands to connect with their customers, and with much better open rates.”