26/09/2016 1:02 PM IST | Updated 26/09/2016 2:02 PM IST

This Startup Aims To Be The Uber For Artists

Gigstart to expand after being acquired by the celebrity management company, KWAN.

Henrik Sorensen

We are living in the age of app that make things we want available to us fast and cheap, or even free. There are apps to book a cab, to order food and to call a plumber whenever we want. So why not an app to book artists for that rocking party you want to throw or to liven up an office event? Enter Gigstart.

Launched in 2013 by Atit Jain and Madhulika Pandey, the platform initially offered bookings for musicians, singers, and comedians.

Later, the company offered performers in more categories and made it easier for the performers themselves to register with it. It also received funding from the founders of Snapdeal in 2014.

The platform is very simple to navigate and the categories listed on it include bands, singers, dancers, DJs, instrumentalists, make-up artists, photographers, comic artists, magicians and more.

KWAN, a celebrity management company, acquired an 85% stake in Gigstart in August. Anirban Blah, the founder of KWAN, told Huffpost India that he decided to buy Gigstart when the moment was opportune.

"I was aware of Gigstart from its inception but the product was raw for the first few years," he said. "Once they had a stable product, I saw an opportunity for the marketplace to expand. People would need a unified platform to book artists at any level. They would also look for a service which they could rely on."

"We are not a competition to celebrity managers or event management companies," he added. "Rather we are an on-demand company such as an Urbanclap or an Uber."

Users can get a free quote from the artist on the website, and to book an artist they have to pay 40 percent of the fees in advance. Gigstart takes a 5 percent share of the booking fee and the rest goes to the artist. Boarding and lodging of the artist is the user's responsibility.

There is a rating system in place too, and both the user and the artist rate each other based on their experience. The platform even provides a blacklist for both users and artists.

Blah is keen to expand. "Most of our business is in Northern and Western region of India because the company started in Delhi and then it expanded to the western parts," he said. "But we are seeing bookings in the other parts of the country as well."

He said that Gigstart's most popular category is singers, followed by musicians and bands.

There are over 4,500 artists on the platform and, according to Blah, more than half of them get booked every month. After being acquired, Gigstart will also host the artists being managed by KWAN.

Using the data collected over the past few years, the company aims to improve its recommendation process for users and put in place a better discovery system for new artists. Blah underscored the need to use technology to boost the functionality of the platform for both users and artists. This will require better schedule management and an improved payment system, among other things.

"It took us a while to focus on different strategies," he said. "First was artist onboarding, then the vendor onboarding and then marketing. We want to play a long game here."

And, the key to that is dependability. "Going forward, we want to provide a reliable service," Blah said. "Gigstart has legs to start walking, now we want it to actually run."