July 28, 2015, by Mihaela Georgieva in: Interviews
It’s been a while since our last success story, but we come back with a new and exciting testimonial from a brilliant young entrepreneur – George Stoyanov, Co-founder of Craze.
Future Ideas: Hi George, thank you for taking the time to join us for this conversation today! Would you tell us a bit about yourself, your background and interests?
George: I appreciate the invite. Well, I’d say I’m a mix of various passions and interests: I’ve graduated my bachelors in tech, I love business and can’t live without arts and sports. Usually, I relax by going out with friends, playing some sports or playing the piano. I think that exactly this personal diversity of interests had a huge impact on the product we created – Craze is all about helping the users do what they truly love.
Future Ideas: So what is Craze exactly?
George: Craze is a two-sided marketplace. On one side we have people who are looking for cool events to go to and on the other we have organizers, who are trying to reach more people and sell more tickets.
Craze helps the end-users to always be informed on what’s happening with their favorite clubs, artists and friends. So let’s say, they don’t want to miss the next party at Melkweg – we help them be up-to-date. We also allow оur users to book tickets for those shows in a very slick way – by implementing the easiest mobile payment flow in the Netherlands.
And for the organizers, we help them sell in the two most critical selling points – early bookings and last minute sales. So if they have trouble selling out an event or just want to sell as fast as possible – we help them do that via featuring their events in our “Editors choice” section and by sending push notifications to the right users, who will love their events.
Future Ideas: How did you come up with the idea?
George: Before we started Craze, I was traveling a lot and every time I visited a new place I had a hard time figuring out what to do. There was no centralized platform to host all the entertainment-related information. If I wanted to go on an art exhibition I had to look through all the out-of-date government websites; If I wanted to simply go out that night – I needed to spend 20 minutes going through different pages of venues, trying to combine all the information so I can come to a decision that should’t be that difficult to make in the first place. It just didn’t seem right. With Craze our users can follow their favorite clubs, museums, organizers and see at a glance what they hold for them.
Future Ideas: What differentiates Craze from other event apps? What makes you stand out?
George: We have a really interesting tech solution on the back-end. It crawls the web and uses Artificial Intelligence to automatically categorize the events on our platform. This allowed us to grow over 1.5 million events & thousands of organizers and still be able to recommend to our users based on interests, popularity, etc. Furthermore we are one of the best platforms that help people keep track of the events of their favorite clubs, artists and organizers – allowing them to be the first ones to find out about their events and make last minute decisions on the go.
Future Ideas: Tell us about your business model (a.k.a. tell us how you make money, we will keep your secret).
George: We act as a ticket provider, so we take a commission out of the tickets sold through our system.
Future Ideas: What kind of difficulties have you encountered so far?
George: Starting a company makes you face multiple difficulties on a weekly basis. There were many challenges we needed to overcome in terms of: finding the right team, building the product and growing our user base. What’s specific for us is that we like to solve our problems one by one. We keep a sharp focus and try to dedicate each week on solving a different issue that we are facing.
Future Ideas: You started your company in Bulgaria. When did you come to Amsterdam and why? Did you have to change the initial concept to fit the local market?
George: Right! Well, we were looking for a western market to expand. Amsterdam was the natural winner. Few things we were looking for were:
A place with a lot of event happening.
A place where people actively go out.
A place with high tech penetration – smart phone usage was an important criteria for us and the Netherlands has the highest usage in the world.
A place that is really keen on using online payments. In Europe there are not many places like this.
We also looked into other indicators that show if our product will be accepted well. During our research, Amsterdam seemed to stand out.
Every market has it’s own specific. We were lucky to have a product that was good to go on the local market. What we needed to change was – the way we market it. We also had to integrate a new payment provider so we can process iDEAL payments.
Future Ideas: So, how does it feel to be a young entrepreneur?
George: Exciting, frightening at times, always interesting. I love the fact that you are never bored, there is always something new to learn.
Future Ideas: Was there a point when you felt like dropping the project? If yes, why so and what helped you go on?
George: Before we started I had some times when I was wondering whether I should try this idea. Once I met with my co-founder (Nikola Irinchev) those second thoughts disappeared and we’ve been pushing the idea forward ever since.
Future Ideas: What is your plan for the future?
George: We started the first half of the year with reaching nearly 15,000 downloads and 6000 really active users. Our engaged users open the app 3-4 times per week, seeking cool events to go to. The goal for the rest of the year is to at least double those numbers and increase our ticket deals with different organizers. Amsterdam is our first stop on the list of international cities. Once we conquer it we plan to move to other dutch cities like Rotterdam and the Hague. We also have our eyes on few other countries, which we plan to target in the near future.