The honest ticketing appJuly 9, 2013: 12:35 PM ET
Applauze can get you into the show and lets you know exactly how much it will cost up front.
By Varun Nayar, reporter
FORTUNE -- Picture yourself trying to make plans for Friday night. You pore over local listings, Google endlessly, and consult friends, all to find the most interesting things happening around town that -- when finally found -- are probably already sold out.
Enter Applauze, an event-finding and ticket-purchasing mobile app that is as useful as it is easy to use. Similar to Yelp for restaurants, and Bandsintown for concerts, Applauze -- released this past March in the iTunes App Store -- gives users in 36 cities a list of options from across the event spectrum, from music, to sports, theater, and free community events.
The app, which works with a network of more than 500 ticket brokers in the U.S. and Canada is the latest brainchild of 35 year-old Kiran Bellubbi, the CEO and founder of 955 Dreams, a mobile app startup in Mountain View, Calif., that has raised $4.2 million in seed funding from firms like 500 Startups, m8 Capital, Kapor Capital, Felicis Ventures, and CrunchFund. Applauze sets out to provide customers with "the simplest and most beautiful way to find events."
Bellubbi considers his new app a "secondary ticket market play," differentiating it from its competitors. Although 955 Dreams doesn't own the primary ticketing rights to events at venues worldwide, the team resells tickets provided to them by brokers with whom they have networked in the U.S. and Canada, scouting for the best deals for their customers. "In a true market place," Bellubbi says, "we need to build adequate tools to facilitate a dialogue between the buyers and sellers and let supply and demand determine what the fair price of the product is."
However, Applauze's elegant, user-friendly interface is what most separates its service from that of longtime competitors in the ticket industry such as Ticketmaster, Ticketfly, and StubHub. Users simply scroll through a list of event titles, tap, and the tile expands and displays a description, directions to the event, costs, and other pertinent details. There's the option to purchase tickets, RSVP to free events or to invite friends via Facebook. The app also features a built-in chat engine that allows users to talk to customer support in real time. Bellubbi explains this was all part of his vision to make a customer-friendly ticketing app: "People have limited time," Bellubbi says. "They should be respected for using your product -- don't insult them with crappy software."
The app also promises to protect customers from hidden fees and charges that are common at ticket-booking sites. The price listed is what you actually pay for the ticket (i.e service charges, which result in a 3-10% markup, are included in the ticket price, rather than popping up when it's time to pay.) This means tickets at Applauze appear more expensive than those at competing sites, but according to Bellubbi, they ultimately cost the same amount. Though Bellubbi acknowledges it will take some time to habituate customers to the pricing strategy, he believes users will appreciate the honest salesmanship in the long run.
Applauze will also be helped along by the 4.9 million users of Band of the Day, a daily band-finding app developed by 955 Dreams that in 2011 earned runner-up status (behind Instagram) for the iTunes App of the Year. Bellubbi expects that success will carry over to his work in the events and ticketing market: "We've developed a big reputation with a lot of labels and artists," he says. "We're a part of that community." Among his future plans for Applauze is to offer perks like backstage passes and line-skipping privileges. (He also plans to continue to enhance the app's discovery and planning functions.)
Bellubbi envisions Applauze becoming a community platform and 955 Dreams becoming a lifestyle and entertainment brand. Yet his biggest ambitions relate to the technology itself. Bellubbi developed Applauze to be mobile-only because he saw the platform as central to the way young people interact, but also because he sees app development as a way to transform how people live. "Mobile is our opportunity as software professionals to make technology human again."