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Your Ticket To VIP Nightlife: Interview With Discotech Founder Ian Chen

Where to be? How to get in? Don’t you love when technology makes it easy to be IN THE KNOW without making crazy efforts or by lucking into some special privilege?

 

 

Discotech is a nightlife app for discovering local events and clubs, and for booking tickets. Meant to streamline night time experiences, users can make reservations, gain access to guestlists without printing tickets, and earn both rewards and discounts… all on one platform.

 

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Launched in the City of Angels, the startup already has its sights set on setting up shop in Las Vegas and Washington, D.C., early this year. $250K in angel funding will help them continue to develop and grow. Co-founder Ian Chen tells us more:

 

What’s your company about? What do you do? Who are your customers?

Our iOS mobile app is essentially an “OpenTable” for nightlife. Discotech allows users to find upcoming events, sign up for events, buy tickets, and book tables at nightlife venues. Our customers include anyone who goes – or wants to go to – “clubbing.” Currently, we are only live in Los Angeles, but we plan on expanding to other major cities in the near future.

 

What’s the greatest thing about your company/website? Why is it better than the competition?

The greatest thing about our app is that it’s a “one stop shop” for planning a night out. Users can save a lot of time by using our app to find events, figure out prices, and make reservations at the hottest clubs in LA. Our app is better than the competition because we are directly integrated with clubs’ back-end systems, so you won’t ever need to talk to a promoter ever again. Secondly, we are coming out with a loyalty program, which will allow users to earn points based on their spending at different venues. Users will then be able to redeem their loyalty points for rewards such as free bottles of alcohol or free admission to the venues they patronize.

 

How’d you come up with the name for your company?

Discotheque means “nightclub” in many foreign languages. We gave it a little tweak to “tech” since we are a technology company, and thought it sounded pretty cool.

 

 

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What time do you usually start work each day? How many hours a day do you usually work?

I usually start work around 10-11 a.m. everyday (We are a nocturnal company and our tech co-founders do most of their best programming late into the night). I spend most of my day working, probably around 14 hours a day.

 

When’s the last time you went on vacation and where did you go?

Last time I went on vacation was this past summer, it was a family vacation for my grandmother’s 90th birthday. I went back home to my hometown of Potomac, Maryland.

 

When do your best ideas come to you? In bed in the morning? During dinner? On your third beer?

When I am sitting on the toilet. (Seriously)

 

How many people did you start the company with and how many people work for you now?

The company started with 3 founders. We have 6 people in total now.

 

A lot of people have big ideas. What gave you the confidence to actually go after yours?

We had a really stellar team of friends that really bought into the idea. We have also had a lot of experience going out to nightclubs, too, and knew that there were some significant pain points that could be addressed with this mobile app.

 

Remember the early days of starting up? Describe the struggles you went through.

Working on the app part time because we needed to maintain our full-time jobs to support ourselves financially was a struggle. Finding a solid team of A-Players and on-boarding them without the promise of a salary was also a big struggle. Talking to countless angel investors and giving similar pitches over and over again was also not pleasant. Cold-calling potential club partners and getting rejected was never easy to swallow.

 

 

app shots

 

 

How do you handle frustration? What has been your biggest professional frustration?

I try to take a “step back” and put my frustrations into perspective. I also try to remind myself how fortunate I am to be doing what I am doing, and that building a startup is obviously going to have its hurdles and challenges. My biggest professional frustration is probably in dealing with channel partners who are less than professional when it comes to being on time or prompt with our agreed-upon deadlines. I guess its to be expected from the Nightlife Industry. It’s also very hard to get anything down in formalized writing, which can be stressful.

 

What’s your office environment like? Do you listen to music? Watch movies? Play video games?

Currently, me and my 3 co-founders live together in a townhouse in Hollywood, Los Angeles. We cook together, work together, exercise together, go out together, so we are very tight knit. We definitely play music while we work (usually electronic music, hip hop, or 90’s music). No video games, we don’t have a video game console – it would be too distracting! We definitely watch movies together at night sometimes to unwind.

 

How do you picture your company in 5 years?

I picture our company being live and active in all major cities in the United States, offering our users access and benefits to all major clubs in the country. Ideally, we would also be available in some countries in Europe and Asia where clubbing is prevalent. I imagine we would have many more employees by then, dedicated to running individual cities and making sure our customers receive great service.

 

Who or what inspires YOU? Role models? Quotes? Running? Video games? Snack food?

I feel like I am inspired by my co-founders, my parents, and my friends. These people all value hard work and discipline, and I admire that and emulate that myself. I also am involved in MMA (Mixed Martial Arts), and the culture of hard work / perseverance definitely keeps me focused and inspired.

 

How’d you fund this venture? VC? Self-funding? Crowdfunded?

Initially, we funded this venture ourselves. We have since raised over $250K in angel funding (we are still raising more). We are not paying ourselves any salary, so our burn rate is extremely slow.

 

Got any great bootstrapping tips for the lean startups out there?

Don’t pay co-founders a salary. (Assuming they have enough savings to live off of) This will by nature keep your personal spending very lean. Live together, work together.

 

What other advice do you have for other entrepreneurs struggling to get started?

In the beginning it’s all about the team. Make sure you take the time to find a strong team that is incredibly dedicated. It’s easy to get excited about an idea, it’s hard to stick through all the ups and downs and put in long hours when it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

 

Do you consider yourself a successful entrepreneur? If not, what’ll make you feel successful?

I am very proud to have made it to where we are today (live product, growing user base, generating revenue), but being profitable would be great!

 

Top 5 mobile apps you’re in love with and why?

  1. Discotech – It’s my baby
  2. Google Maps – makes life so much easier when you know how to get around
  3. groupme – makes it easy to stay connected to groups of people / my team
  4. Lyft – Great form of transportation and very affordable
  5. Yelp – helps me make a lot of decisions when it comes to getting food

 

What is your music streaming player of choice, and what are you listening to right now?

Grooveshark – John Dahlback (One Last Ride). Electronic Music.

 

Three people (other than you) we should follow on Twitter and why?

  1. Elon Musk – Guy is changing the world in some big ways, definitely a genius of our generation.
  2. Mark Cuban – Involved with many startups, and is also a very interesting man in general.
  3. Paul Graham – One of the major thought leaders and voices in the startup space

 

Where should our readers find you?

 

Photo Credits

Discotech | Ian Chen

Author : Keith Liles

Keith Liles is a freelance writer who loves travel, music, wine, hiking, poetry, and just about everything. He practices saying "yes" to life vigorously, rehearsing for the phone call when he's asked to tour with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Follow Keith on Twitter @KPLiles.

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