Performing is something Ziv Kong holds dear. After all, he’s been singing and playing his guitar for an audience for 13 years. In fact, for 10 years, he split his time between his day-job as a website developer and while his nights were dedicated to daily performances.
However, 3 years ago, he came to a realisation. He, and many other performers, were just constantly running around in a fruitless circle: scrambling to find gigs and unable to grow beyond a limited field but driven by the love of performing.
He made a decision to take a step back and understand the industry, to see what exactly were the problems and work towards solving them. He recruited his friend, Brandon Chong, who was the person who taught him how to play the guitar and had performed with him numerous times over the years.
With the rest of the team, they worked out GIG88, an online platform to help performers display their talents to people who are looking to book a gig.
How It Works
Ziv shared that they noticed the industry did not evolve or adapt to the modern e-commerce world. It was still very much traditional, where there was a lack of transparency and it was difficult for people to source for performers.
He said, “There’s a misunderstanding that hiring performers, for a say a wedding, is expensive. In actual fact, there is such a wide range of performers available that are really affordable and suit their budget. Knowing this, we set out to make this industry embrace e-commerce.”
When you head over to their website, you can use the GigReco option to select the Gig Type, date, venue, country and also put in your budget. Some recommendations will come up and you can watch videos of their previous performances before deciding.
You can also search for performers by name or by type and of course, check out the videos they’ve uploaded to help you decide.
According to Ziv, they have around 300 performers registered with GIG88. At this point of time, their repeat clients are mostly corporate customers, because wedding receptions ideally will only happen once in a lifetime for each customer.
From The Performer’s Eyes
Registration on their website is currently free, and the team claims that it will always be free.
This means performers can rejoice, as there’s nothing for them to lose by signing up and getting their name out there. GIG88 operates on a freemium model, where performers can join GIG88 for free with an option to subscribe and upgrade for additional features and priority listing.
As the platform is currently still in its beta stage, there’s still a lot more left to be worked on so that it can continue to mature into the best product for users.
“We are experimenting our product market fit and would like to introduce features like a performers matching system, video listing algorithm and a anti-exploitation system so that our final product is easy to use, fair and safe for everyone,” said Ziv.
Not All Smooth Sailing
Right now, there are a total of five people on the team at GIG88, with Brandon as the chief engineer, guitarist and hardcore programmer who built the backend, algorithm and automation of GIG88. David Gan handles finance, and comes with more than 10 years of experience in accounting and financial institution. Calvin Ng works on communications, Montana Choi is the rose among the thorns in business development. Ziv, as the founder, mainly takes charge of the team and is the frontend programmer for user experience and user interface.
They are currently in the MaGIC Accelerator Programme Cohort 3 and were part of the E@Stanford programme. Ziv said, “We are looking forward to launch our full product and actively grow our performer database to be one of the biggest and best performing arts sourcing platform.”
Amongst the challenges they’ve faced, one was a rather unexpected one.
“Many told us that our startup name sounds like a betting website. After some research, we found out that the name ‘GIG88′ was indeed previously a betting website.”
Furthermore, the number ’88’ is commonly associated with sports betting platforms and online casinos.
The team didn’t let that discourage them too much. Ziv joked with Vulcan Post, “Please publish this article so more people will know that GIG88 is not a betting website but a legit performer sourcing platform.”
There was also a time they struggled with being overly-eager to please. After gathering feedback from many sources, they were scrambling around to incorporate all that feedback in.
As a result, their platform almost went off course from what they had originally set out to do. They almost pivoted to become a ticketing platform, but in the end, the original vision held true. This was a lesson they carry to today. “Feedback from the users is important but we need to be very careful on implementation.”
The team is also looking for the right angel investor who understands the industry, specifically talent management and event management. They remain very optimistic. “Until we find the investors, we’ll just bootstrap by serving corporate clients that have already started using GIG88 as their performer sourcing platform,” they said.
At the moment, the team hopes to fully launch by the end of the year. As the platform still needs more work, it remains to be seen if they will be able to attract the users they need to make this viable.
Perhaps they can start by changing their name.