From the branded t-shirt of a famous rock star to a baseball cap sporting a country superstar’s name. The hottest performers, selling out arenas, make millions from albums, clothing and other branded items at these events. atVenu is the tech company making buying this event merchandise slick and easier than ever – not a company from Nashville or Los Angeles, but Calgary.
With the intensity at which this tech firm is growing, festivals like Coachella and South by Southwest (SXSW) are getting on board. atVenu’s software platform is selling merchandise to fans faster than ever, with far fewer headaches. They’ve revolutionized event merchandise commerce in the North American music industry and are branching out into all adjacent live-event marketplaces.
The Calgary office houses the entire company’s product development team and according to Derek Ball, co-founder and CEO, its astronomical leap to success since 2012 is not expected to slow down anytime soon. “We have doubled or tripled every year since we have started. With more than 10,000 artists, venues and festivals that use our platform now we basically dominate the music industry today.” The artists, like Beyoncé, Ed Sheeran and Blake Shelton, that use the platform have managed over $1 billion in merchandise through the software.
Ball says atVenu has tripled its revenue in the past year without expanding the team. But, with plans to triple revenue again this year, this breakneck speed will require adding new talent and Ball believes Calgary is the place to find it. “We’ve had great luck hiring people in Calgary. This is a critical area for us. We just want to continue to support this community and grow within it.”
atVenu has two other co-founders, Ben Brannen and James Seigel, and as they have grown, they took responsibilities for different parts of the company and located it accordingly. Being entrenched in the music and entertainment industry, it makes sense that they have a presence in Los Angeles. Similarly, because they are also a tech company, being in Silicon Valley is equally beneficial. But, Calgary remains the headquarters.
The idea of the company was born when the co-founders were thinking about artists’ merchandise and how it was a critical stream of revenue for them; yet, there was no system in place to manage it. “I was shocked to find out how much money was flowing through this industry through Excel spreadsheets, fax machines and spiral notebooks,” Ball says, “that was really the genesis of the idea and it was successful right away.”
Barely six years old, Calgary-based company atVenu, continues to paint part Calgary’s story, that innovation thrives here.