Located in the East Village of New York City, GigMaven is quickly becoming a musical powerhouse by connecting the dots between musicians and the many venues that feature musicians.
We spent some time with Howard Han to learn more about his entrepreneurial experience in creating GigMaven.
Howard, for those who don't know GigMaven, why don't you explain what the company does?
GigMaven helps musicians and live music venues book gigs online.
The site is free to musical artists. They can create profiles, post their music, and peruse open slots for gigs. If they have a preexisting profile on MySpace, they can simply import their MySpace profile.
Conversely, club owners and music bookers can list available slots and search for the ideal artist to complete a multi-act night.
Prior to our launching GigMaven, musicians and venues engaged in endless emailing and cat-and-mouse phone calls to book musical gigs. We've completely streamlined the process in a way that is win-win for musicians and venues.
What were you doing before you started GigMaven?
I am one of the many investment bankers who have decided to become entrepreneurs.
I was at UBS Investment Bank in the Tech, Media and Telecom group mostly focusing on M&A. This is my first time starting a business.
Where did you get the startup money for GigMaven?
I initially put my own savings into GigMaven and then in July we raised a seed round from angel investors.
Who are GigMaven's main competitors and how do you compete against them?
We currently do not have any direct competitors doing exactly what we are doing. There is another firm called SonicBids, but they focus primarily on music festivals.
We see ourselves focusing on delivering a strong, more innovative product and responding more quickly to our users. Also, we do not plan on charging musicians to use our service like many other existing services for musicians.
How has your experience in starting GigMaven been different from what you expected?
Things always take longer than expected, and your patient and persistence will be tested every day. That being said, the reward has been greater than I expected.
Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
Of course, there are tons of things you would do differently if you could start again, but ultimately you have to make those mistakes in order to learn, so I do not regret any of my decisions.
What have you done that has been very effective in helping to grow the business?
The most important thing is taking the time to focus on building and developing your team and pushing them to build a product needed and loved by your users.
Also, because people are often leaving a large company to work for you, I tend to believe all the little things you can do make a big difference. In our business, that's a lot of live music shows and other perks and of course all your normal startup goodies, like lots of Red Bull.
What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to start a similar business?
Make sure you understand your market if it serves a niche community.
Another thing I recommend is that you surround yourself with people who are as dedicated and devoted as you are.
That's great advice for aspiring entrepreneurs, Howard. Thanks so much for sharing your entrepreneurial experience with us, and good luck in growing your business.