Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Interview with Artin Nazarian, MySocialNightLife
Story by Benjamin F. Kuo
Earlier this month, Los Angeles-based MySocialNightLife.com (www.mysocialnightlife.com) announced a seed funding round, and its technology platform for the nightclub and bar industry. We caught up with Artin Nazarian, the firm's co-founder, and chatted about what the company is hoping to do.
What is MySocialNightLife all about?
Artin Nazarian: The goal of the project, is to make the life of folks in the nightlife industry better, by providing tools to better market to the exact demographic they need, to get them to attend clubs and bars. It's a venue management system, which automates very mundane tasks. Instead of using things like Excel documents to track guest lists, or Word to track table numbers, we've automated and applied technology to make what has been a mundane and very manual task. In addition, we though we'd connect this to social media, as a forward-facing view for customers. There is other technology out there for guest automation, but we though that if we could have venue management connected to social media, that would allow us to provide a direct link between venue management and marketing. That provides a much better customer experience, allows you to offer incentives, and do lots of things which can draw people back to a venue. Based on our research, plus being in the nightlife industry from the perspective of a party go-er, by attending clubs, and talking to people, there isn't a good system to bring clients back. Restaurants do a great job at this, but nightclubs don't. That's why we're creating a mobile application, which will allow venues to offer incentives, have people check in, so you can run promotions. For example, you might have people check in five times, and the sixth time their crew might be able to get in for free. Our thought was how do we give nightclub owners and promoters to track who is coming, and offer them a way to get those clients to return.
What is your involvement in the nightlife industry, and how did you learn about this?
Artin Nazarian: My involvement has been more from event promotion, but mainly, it's because I've had friends who have owned nightclubs, who manage nightclubs, as well as those who are VIP hosts and promoters. I have been tapped into the industry, especially in Las Vegas, where at almost every major nightclub I have some in. My actual background is in film and technology, and that's where the technology aspect came in. I connected those two about three years ago--back when MySpace was actually MySpace, and Facebook was Facebook. The idea was born in Vegas. I was looking at a crowd at a club, and I noticed how the clubs were using MySpace's personal profiles as venue profiles. They were trying to make personal profiles work for them, and thought that wasn't the way it should be. That's how the idea was born, which was by creating a niche social media and venue management sight for the night life industry. There's always the question about why create something new given Facebook, Foursquare, and Twitter, but my take on it is that if you look back at TV in the 1950's and 1960's, there were only major networks like NBC, CBS, and ABC. Then, all those cable stations came out. I see something similar happening now, where Facebook and Twitter are the major networks, but the trend is the niche networks, just like what happened in the TV world. We see ourselves as a cable station for the night life industry.
Where did your involvement with technology come from?
Artin Nazarian: My background is in both film and technology. I worked at a major studio, and I was part of a team that helped launch the iTunes movie store. I also helped launch the Blu Ray format, and have been involved in many major technology launches, from a business development and production standpoint.
Where is the site now?
Artin Nazarian: What we've pushed live as a beta, is the front-facing, social networking aspect of this. By June, we'll be pushing live the venue management system, which we call the back stage. By the end of June, the iPhone app will go live. I personally think that the iPhone app is the game changer. It's interesting how quickly that became important. When you are involved in a project for three years, it's interesting to see how things can change so much, and changes what you think is core. Suddenly, Apple has an App store which changes everything, and the balance of power has shifted from being stationary on the desktop, to being very mobile. I think the iPhone will be the game changer.
What are you doing with your seed funding?
Artin Nazarian: We are getting some seed capital, to move forward with the iPhone app, and continue to build out the site and some of the new features which are coming up, in addition to sustaining operations and marketing and the website for version 1.0.
What's the biggest thing you've learned in starting up the company?
Artin Nazarian: The biggest thing I have learned is, you start off with a concept, and it evolves. You start to work with designers, but you soon realize that within five months, that design you spent hours and hours on starts to look old. So, the biggest thing I have learned is--don't worry about the design, until the development and workflow and core coding is done. Then, worry about the design. If you worry about the design at the beginning, it starts looking old after just five months.
Thanks, and good luck!