SBJ: How are you sustaining your growth?
Mark Steiner: Our company being in the United States and Canada, the scale for us is so large. As an event marketplace, it’s a really unique specialized industry. On the event side, we’ve identified 25 to 30 verticals, or silos, of different event types: the wedding industry, children’s birthday parties, family parties or college university events. We’re still just a blip. There’s just so much room to grow. The longer we’ve been out there, the longer there’s been an awareness and repeat business. On the other side of it, we have close to 600 categories – nearly every type of entertainer, performer, musician, speaker and other event service providers. Some years ago, there were 150,000 people that put wedding photographer on their tax returns. We have less than 150,000 people total covering our 600 categories. I would like to have all 150,000 of those photographers on GigSalad. We’re a pretty savvy tech company, but we don’t have an app out, yet. By the time we’re up there on the stage for Dynamic Dozen, we’ll have an app out.
Steve Tetrault: There’s some big heavy hitters that have billions of dollars in investment capital that we’re now competing against. We’re still like the little engine that could.
SBJ: How are you growing your revenue?
Steiner: As far as categories go, it’s a living, breathing thing. It’s not even a question of necessarily adding categories. We do occasionally, but this week we took a category off because it’s either not being fulfilled or there’s not enough people to represent it. As far as growth, as a “freemium” model, we’re looking to get those free people to come in, dip their toes in, try it out, have some success and then decide that now, (at a) paid level … they’ll see a return on that investment. Of the 115,000 or so people we have on the site, a lot of them are free, but we have another revenue stream for them. When they book on the platform, we make a little bit more money. So, it’s growth on both sides of those two revenue streams.
SBJ: What have been your top issues when it comes to managing growth?
Tetrault: We could grow just one side of the marketplace. If we wanted to get just a ton of guitarists, we could put all our efforts in doing that and get more revenue coming in from listing fees. But if we don’t have the work there to support it, their membership isn’t going to be worth anything. We don’t want to get rich quick. We want to create value for all those guitarists that join GigSalad. Our biggest challenge is to grow both sides of the marketplace together.
SBJ: What’s the worst business advice you’ve ever received?
Tetrault: Search engine optimization has always been a big thing for us. Earlier on, we were really spinning our wheels. We engaged some SEO professionals to help, and we got advice to engage in some really serious, what’s known as black-hat practices – really deceptive things. We have decided every one of those times that we just have to do it right and just wait.
Plans for the Finley Ridge apartment complex in the growing community of Ozark call for four buildings, four stories apiece, with 48 units each for a total of 192, as well as a 1,500-square-foot shared community and fitness room.