Behind The App: Shahar Nechmad, Creator Of Stagedom
Serial entrepreneur. Startup competition judge. Lecturer and speaker. And now, an Appster. Meet Shahar Nechmad, creator of Stagedom, the ultimate music experience for fans and bands.
Stagedom gives users a chance to engage with artists, discover and share music, and get backstage access and VIP treatment at concerts and events. This app makes it really easy to stay up to date with all of your favorite artists, all while interacting with other fans and getting the latest content right on your mobile phone.
According to Shahar, Stagedom’s goal is to revolutionize the entertainment space – music, sports, movies – with a focus on live events, mobile platforms and everything in between.
Here’s the catch: Shahar, a self-proclaimed tech geek, once knew nothing about mobile apps. How did he go from analytics expert to mobile entrepreneur? Read on to find out.
From Idea to Appster: A moment of passion
“I had this idea in my mind for 4 or 5 years,” said Shahar. “When you go to a concert or any event, it’s always an experience –it’s a moment of passion. I thought, there’s gotta be a way to enhance and extend this experience.”
Disappointed at how events always end without giving people more of what they crave and labels not using this opportunity to engage their audience, he decided to build an app for it.
“After you leave an event, you still that passion and that adrenaline rush. What we really want to do is extend this.”
Another music app?
Think about like going to the movies, he tells me. “I love Batman. When I come out of watching Batman on IMAX, I’m asking myself, ‘why can’t I just take my phone out and I’m going to pay right now to get access to different endings, director’s cut, missing scenes, etc.’ In that moment of passion, I want to extend it to a mobile experience.”
But it’s another music app.
“In the past five years, I can count on one hand the amount of music startups that actually succeeded.” Shahar continued, “Even the ones we call a success, most of them are not making money, so it’s a field that we all know has opportunity, but no one figured out how to make it work.”
And Shahar did exactly that.
A whole different animal
“When we started we knew it was going to be extremely hard,” admitted Shahar.
Although he’s no tech novice – he was the founder of NuConomy, a leading web analytics and advertising company that was sold to Live Person – this is his first venture into mobile apps, which he describes as a ‘completely different animal.’
Shahar says, “Everything is different. If you do something for the web, if there are bugs to fix or you need to change something or push a new version, you just take it to the server and it’s automatically updated for everyone. When you send an app or an update to the app store, that’s it; you can’t really control it.”
Case in point: the first version of Stagedom. Shahar says that this first iteration had bugs he wanted to fix, so he pushed an update. The problem? Not all users were updating the app on their devices, creating calls to the server for the old version. “Even on the development cycle, with the way you actually design and prototype your product, it’s really different and unique to the mobile world. We’re still learning a lot.”
The learning curve wasn’t limited to the development process. To make Stagedom actually work, Shahar needed to have the big boys on board – the music labels.
One of the biggest challenges Shahar faced was validating his idea and that Stagedom had a place in the industry. Although he knew Stagedom was something special and no one else had anything like it, for him, the entertainment industry was untrodden territory.
“I thought the idea of Stagedom is great and that it makes a lot of sense,” said Shahar. “At the same time, I knew that I’ve never worked in this industry, so I wanted to hear from [the labels] that there is something there and it does make sense.” At the end of the day, what mattered to Shahar was validation that there is an opportunity and direction for an app like Stagedom.
Selling the idea to labels, band managers and other key players, however, proved to be a real challenge. Coming from the tech world, talking to industry folks was a whole different language. Overcoming this obstacle meant figuring out the “x-factor” behind Stagedom and giving artists and labels a reason why they want to be a part of this revolution.
“We have a distinct advantage,” Shahar explained. “We have two types of users: users who download the app and actually use it, and artists, labels, venues, agencies and brands. The way we look at it, if we can help the labels, etc. make money, they will have an incentive to push our app.”
Shahar notes that a ‘distinct advantage’ should also be defined from a marketing standpoint. For instance, a ‘distinct advantage’ is something that can be really integrated into the product that makes it garner more users, such as games where you can’t play without other users so you’ll have to invite more people to play.
That’s just one of the many secrets Shahar shared for other app developers.
Don’t build a network. Build relationships.
While most people think that having a large network is what gets connected, it’s the relationships you build that really matter.
“Every startup is about relationships, especially when you go into the entertainment industry,” Shahar said.
To reach the right heads in the biz, he keyed in on his connections – not just people he met or knew, but relationships that he worked really hard on to build. “We had lots of relationships from my last company, but in particular it’s the media. We used those connections to get to the labels and band managers. The relationships we have in the industry is our key to kind of break this chicken and egg problem.”
More from Shahar:
- Move if you have to. Shahar knew that to be in the entertainment industry, he actually had to be in the industry. The first thing he did was move to New York to get his name out and build his brand.
- Focus on one environment. Shahar is a big believer in starting with an iPhone app because it’s much easier than developing for Android. Certainly don’t build for iPhone and Android at the same time, especially not from the start. “Your app will change a lot. Building for multiple environments is a waste. Do it for one and do it well.”
- What competition? Shahar knew that the music industry is a crowded market with giants such as Pandora and Spotify already staking claim. First, Stagedom is much more than just a music service. Second, Shahar’s last company competed directly with analytics behemoths Google and Omniture. “What’s going to be harder than competing with Google?” he quipped with a chuckle.
- Get on a list and get on it fast. Apps get discovered by being on Featured lists. Get on the Top 10 list if you can. Shahar says, “You need 50K-100K users to in the Top 10 list. If you’re not in the top 10, your chances of getting a lot of users are almost impossible. You’ll have about a 500-user base and that’s about it.”
- Distribution is key. Stagedom doesn’t have a big budget to spend on marketing, and Shahar warns against trying to get consumer apps five million or twenty million users. “It’s really, really hard and it’s more luck or a lot of money spent on it.” Instead, appsters should think about distribution from day one. “If you don’t have a key advantage of how you will distribute the app, don’t even go there.” Another way to look at it is knowing the numbers and knowing them well. “If you can find a way to see exactly how much money you’re making from each new user, it becomes much easier because then you know how much money you need to spend to get more users – you know for every dollar you spend you get x amount of users and you earn x amt of money.”
- Have a plan. Shahar’s approach is a three-part plan: (1) Building a really good mobile experience; (2) Analytics based on a marketing platform for the mobile generation and the web vs. real life situations; and (3) Data that puts them in the middle as it flows through the industry and the app users. “If we can put ourselves in the middle, that’s a really good place to be. There’s tons of interesting things you can do.”
- Last, but not least, make friends with Apple. If you can. “I know it’s really hard, but somehow, find a way to have a relationship with Apple to get a way to get your app approved much faster.”