One Solstice Raises $450K to Match Musicians and Concert Venues

Among other things, Austin, TX, is famous for its live music scene and yearly festivals, including South by Southwest and Austin City Limits.

A lesser-known annual gathering in Austin that has nonetheless gained traction since it was first held in 2014 is Solstice Festival, which will take place this weekend at venues throughout the city. Since the various stages aren’t bunched together, as they are at some other music festivals, the event’s organizers encourage attendees to use mobile apps developed by Madison, WI-based One Solstice to view schedules, learn about artists, and interact with fellow concertgoers.

“Our technology has been at the root of the festival since the beginning,” says Matt Ford, co-founder and CEO of One Solstice. “It’s grown tremendously, to hundreds of artists on about 20 stages around the city.”

One Solstice partners with two other groups, Austin Green Art and Special Events Live, to put on Solstice Festival. They handle most of the organization and logistics, Ford says, “but we’re the tech people behind it.”

Last year, 38 festivals across the country used One Solstice’s technology, Ford says. It also helped facilitate about 1,500 concerts, and he says those events—and the venues they’re held in—will be the startup’s focus going forward, more so than festivals. The company recently raised $450,000 in equity financing to help with this shift. The seed funding round was led by Mark Bakken, Ford says, with other Madison-based angel investors also participating. (Bakken, an Xconomist, is a managing partner of HealthX Ventures.) Ford says that One Solstice, which launched in 2013, had previously raised about $90,000 in a pre-seed round.

Ford says One Solstice hopes to become a large-scale booking service that matches musicians and concert venues, similar to how Airbnb connects travelers and hosts or property owners. In order to start moving in that direction, he says, One Solstice will need more software developers proficient in Javascript, a Web programming language, so the startup plans use some of the new seed money to hire them.

Ford and some other members of One Solstice’s eight-person team are based in Austin, and he says that the startup will continue trying to get more venues there to sign up to use the technology. From there, One Solstice might expand to other cities in Texas or cross state lines to penetrate music hubs like Seattle or New York, Ford says.

“Our target customers are music venues that put on thousands of concerts every year,” he says. “The competition is the old way of doing things. Our goal is to make a technology that is better than streamlining a paper calendar with Google Mail and Facebook messages.”

One Solstice’s business model involves charging event spaces and festival organizers fees for licensing its technological platform, Ford says. The startup is bringing in revenue, he says, but he declined to reveal sales figures from 2015 or projections for the current year.

Making money is of course essential for a company to survive, though Ford points out that One Solstice grew out of a volunteer project he worked on around the time he was graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. That project was on behalf of Make Music Madison, a free, outdoor music festival held on or around the summer solstice each year.

“We spun off a really interesting technology [and] realized we could service the music industry in a professional way, and really help out,” he says.

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