Brian Foo (CEO) founded Gigfairy in 2014 as a community marketplace for artists and promoters, and it helps users to book live musical acts. In essence, it’s a platform that eases the process of booking live musical acts while creating more gig opportunities for local musicians.
Gigfairy’s team was one of the winners of1337 Ventures’ Alpha Startups, an idea validation program, and they subsequently managed to raise their first investment from 1337 Ventures. After going through an intensive 3-month accelerator program, they managed to raise their seed round of funding from Endeavour Capital by demonstrating strong stage traction and by also increasing their month-on-month gross merchandise value (GMV).
To date, the platform has grown to a community of more than 230 musicians in Malaysia across genres, and they’re also used by notable artists such as De Fam, Paperplane Pursuit, and Jin Hackman. The platform also boasts a collection of talented up-and-coming artists such as Talitha Tan, Jon Liddell and Tasha Aleia.
Gigfairy enables hosts to discover and book any of the artists on board for any event or occasion, be they wedding celebrations, birthday parties or corporate events. Users can also book affordable sound systems as an option through the platform as well.
The Value Of Data
While the above paragraph summarises Gigfairy’s core functionality, there’s so much more that the platform can do. Brian Foo mentioned that value proposition didn’t just lie in the functionality of the platform but also in the value of the data that they’d end up collecting.
In regards to the data that they collect, he iterated, “How often a musician gets booked, who the musician is getting booked by, how big of a crowd is a musician playing to when they get booked, etc.”
Even though he didn’t notice this when he first started Gigfairy, it was something that Tune Studios was able to identify the value in. Brian Foo met up with Tune Studios through their pre-seed round investors, and even though they first began to discuss the idea of a potential partnership, it soon evolved into talks about a possible investment and later into a potential acquisition.
As such, Tune Studios and BAC Ventures recently completed their acquisition of Gigfairy for an undisclosed amount.
Brian Foo told Vulcan Post, “They really liked what we were doing and they liked our energy because they’re young and energetic too so it made a lot of sense to be acquired by them at such an early stage.”
While it did make sense, they had to spend a tedious amount of time during the negotiation process. He said, “We’ve been at it for a long, long time, so while I was over the moon I have to say I’m more relieved that it’s done and we (Tune, BAC and ourselves) can all play together now instead of being on different sides of the fence.”
CEO of Tune Studios, Adib Khalid cites that among other things, acquiring Gigfairy is a good way for the record label to scout for new talent, as he believes that the platform will lead the entertainment industry into a new era of talent booking. He mentioned, “Through it’s simplified booking process, Gigfairy is a new marketplace for artists/talents to not only obtain different avenues of income, but they are also able to increase and expose their visibility in the market to potential clients, producers and fans.”
Brian Foo also affirmed, “This data is extremely valuable and I can confirm that they are already watching some of the Gigfairy musicians closely simply thanks to the data we’ve been able to provide them with.”
Stacking Up On Firepower
“An acquisition was of course my preferred exit but I had no idea if it would happen so quickly and in the way it did.”
And he had good reason to be doubtful as another major recording label also expressed interest in Gigfairy in November, however nothing materialised. “We were also very close to securing our seed with a few other VCs as were slightly worried of the Tune deal falling through,” he said.
However, it didn’t. And this acquisition gives them the required firepower to stay ahead of their competition and to have a stronger differentiation factor, as the barriers to the industry as a whole are extremely low.
Regardless of the acquisition, Brian Foo will still remain as the helm of the company, and he will be leading the team to take a deeper dive into their own market and to also go regional.
He highlighted that the majority of their business came from the more urban market in 2015, and as such they will be focusing on serving the more Malay, Indian and Chinese-focused markets. “We’re also laying the tracks to enter the rest of the region with the help of their new partners,” he said.
The Startup Acquisition Blueprint
“We’re all happy about the acquisition but we’re not getting ahead of ourselves. The pressure is well and truly on now,” he quipped. As such, he didn’t do anything crazy to celebrate this pivotal milestone, he mentioned that he just had dinner and drinks with his friends.
While having an exit strategy in mind, as a startup founder is definitely helpful, the question still remains. Is there a blueprint that startups can follow to get acquired?
Brian Foo thinks so. He said, “I think it’s something a founder dreams about but don’t actually know how to plan for. Even for myself, an acquisition was something I wanted but I had absolutely no idea who would be interested when I first started. Having said that though, some founders I know build startups to be acquired quick and I think the ability to plan a startup’s journey from inception to acquisition comes with experience.”
And it also helps if the startup is developing a service or a product that’s of value to traditional forms of businesses. “The Gigfairy acquisition, which evolved from inception to acquisition in 12 months, demonstrates that traditional businesses realise the need for inorganic growth via startups. I think we are going to witness more of each cases in the next couple of years,” Bikesh Lakhmichand, founder and CEO of 1337 Ventures, highlighted.
Eyes On The Prize
Even with this recent acquisition, Brian Foo still believes that we shouldn’t get sucked into the “startup fluff”. He highlighted, “We’re often consumed by what’s being reported from the other side of the world thinking it could happen to us (I’m not saying it can’t) that we focus so much on creating valuations that don’t make any sense.”
He affirmed that startups should remain focused on their goal and they should ensure that their business plan is sound and that they should keep generating lots of revenue. As such he reiterated, “Tune Studios and BAC are doing incredibly exciting things for the live music industry. We share one common goal—and that is to uplift the entire music industry starting here at home in Kuala Lumpur and then the rest of the region. Both the teams are young and so hungry, and we’re stoked to be able to play a role in this.”