The news that YPlan, the last-minute events booking app and website, has recently been bought by Time Out for £1.6m, has raised eyebrows.
The deal means that YPlan exited for a fraction of its promised value. Four previous funding rounds saw it raise £24.3m from a string of investors including Octopus Ventures, Nokia Growth Partners and Qualcomm Ventures. Indeed, its latest raise (in an unannounced deal) valued the company at a whopping £41.6m.
This exit is clearly not a sign of success. The business had struggled with its value proposition, structure and financials, laying off around a third of its staff at one point and pivoting from direct sales to a self-service model – where event organisers manage their own listings. So where does this leave the rest of the UK’s young events apps?
One of the most promising is Velocity – a restaurant and venue recommendation app that also allows user bookings. The young business has a busy timeline on their Beauhurst profile; despite being set up only two years ago, it has already undergone five equity fundraisings and made three acquisitions – including gobbling up Uncover, the popular restaurant cancellations specialist. Categorised at Growth-stage by our analysts, it raised another $22.5m from angel investors and DIG Investments. Indeed, its co-founder, Zia Yusuf, proudly asserts that Velocity is “the best-funded startup in the premium dining space”, and that it aims to become an “Uber for experiences”.
On the theme of Uber – destination curation app Dojo notes that its vision is that “somebody in any city around the world will book a room with AirBnb, get there in an Uber and then find somewhere nearby to go with Dojo.” Having raised two Seed rounds – one unannounced – the business was valued at just over £2m a deal in January 2015. The business recently embarked on a consumer marketing campaign and is known for its canny PR – including handing out 14,000 personalised letters. Hand-curating restaurants, bars and themes, with no current ability for the user to book, is an unusual model in this space, crammed with referral and affiliate schemes. But the app has a loyal following, in no small part due to a strong emphasis on visual design, photography and aesthetics.
Similarly, venture-stage Dice set up shop in 2014 and has been steadily carving out its brand as a modern live music discovery and mobile ticketing platform. It recently raised $6m, and has previously raised £1.4m in an unannounced deal, giving it a valuation of just over £5.5m.
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